MSDs are common in office workers
The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as “injuries and disorders of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and cartilage) and nervous system. They can affect nearly all tissues, including the nerves and tendon sheaths, and most frequently involve the arms and back.”
Up to 85 percent of the population will suffer from musculoskeletal pain.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are known by many names, such as cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs).
MSDs are also called repetitive motion disorders (RMDs), overuse syndromes, repetitive strain injuries, and “office syndrome.”
Poor ergonomic posture can cause MSDs
When workers sit or stand in a posture that is not ergonomically correct, they can experience musculoskeletal pain.
Because musculoskeletal pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a major source of suffering, health care, and utilization of compensation, there is a definite need for prevention (2).
OSHA – MSDs have a variety of names
Ergonomics: The Study of Work, OSHA 3125, page 2, states “Occupational safety and health professionals have called these disorders a variety of names, including cumulative trauma disorders, repeated trauma, repetitive stress injuries, and occupational overexertion syndrome.”
To view OSHA’s discussion of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs): “Ergonomics: The Study of Work – OSHA 3125,” click here: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3125.pdf
Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) defined by PEOSH:
“Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces) or sustained or awkward positions. Cumulative trauma disorders are also called repetitive motion disorders (RMDs), overuse syndromes, regional musculoskeletal disorders, repetitive motion injuries, or repetitive strain injuries.”
Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, “PEOSH Cumulative Trauma Disorders in Office Workers” December 1, 1997
Musculoskeletal Disorders in office workers:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a compression of the median nerve in the wrist that may be caused by swelling and irritation of tendons and tendon sheaths.
Tendinitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon. It develops when the tendon is repeatedly tensed from overuse or unaccustomed use of the hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder.
Tenosynovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon sheath associated with extreme flexion and extension of the wrist.
Low Back Disorders – These include pulled or strained muscles, ligaments, tendons, or ruptured disks. They may be caused by cumulative effects of faulty body mechanics, poor posture, and/or improper lifting techniques.
Synovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a synovial lining (joint lining).
DeQuervain’s Disease – A type of synovitis that involves the base of the thumb.
Bursitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of the connective tissue surrounding a joint, usually of the shoulder.
Epicondylitis – Elbow pain associated with extreme rotation of the forearm and bending of the wrist. The condition is also called tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – a compression of nerves and blood vessels between the first rib, clavicle (collar bone), and accompanying muscles as they leave the thorax (chest) and enter the shoulder.”
Cervical Radiculopathy – A compression of the nerve roots in the neck.
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment – A compression of the ulnar nerve in the wrist.
Symptoms of MSDs or CTDs
The following symptoms may involve the back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or fingers. If symptoms last for at least one week or if they occur on many occasions a doctor should be consulted.
- Decreased joint motion,
- Cracking or popping of joints
MSDs can be caused by work and non-work activities
These disorders can result from work and other than work activities that involve repetitive motions or sustained awkward postures, such as sports or hobbies.
“These painful and sometimes crippling disorders develop gradually over periods of weeks, months, or years. . .Work and non-work activities may together contribute to cumulative trauma disorders. These disorders can also be aggravated by medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, multiple myeloma, thyroid disorders, amyloid disease and pregnancy.”
“PEOSH Cumulative Trauma Disorders in Office Workers” December 1, 1997
- Public Employees Occupational Safety & Health, State of NJ, 1997.
- Textbook of Pain, 1998, “Prevention of Disability due to Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” written by Steven James Litton
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA 3125 2000 (Revised), “Ergonomics: The Study of Work”