Work-Related Musculoskeletal Injuries and Prevention
Defining the work-related musculoskeletal injuries.
Work-related musculoskeletal injuries are commonly a group of painful injuries of tendons, muscles, and nerves. To name a few here: tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tension neck syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome and so forth.
It becomes difficult to define work-related musculoskeletal injuries, as they develop gradually after the injury due to overuse.
What are the risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal injuries?
The work-related musculoskeletal injuries emerge from hand and arm movements like bending, gripping, straightening, twisting, holding, reaching and clenching. These common movements are not specifically detrimental in the day-to-day activities of daily life. What makes them harmful is the work situations and recursive patterns. Especially when you do some work forcefully and often, speed movements and lack of recovery time can also be the cause. Some of the work patterns give birth to such work-related musculoskeletal injuries;
– Recursive repetition of movements.
– Limited or fixed body positions or posture.
– Work that does not give enough recovery between movements.
– Force enforcement on the small parts of the body like the wrist, hand and arm.
Usually, none of these factors cause work-related musculoskeletal injuries singlehandedly. These types of injuries happen as a result of the interaction of combinations among them. Cold, vibration and heat can also be the cause of the development of such damages.
How do such work-related musculoskeletal injuries happen?
Practically, three types of work-related musculoskeletal injuries can happen;
– Muscle injury.
– Nerve injury.
– Tendon injury.
When your muscles contract, they use chemical energy from your sugars in the body and develop by-products like lactic acid that are removed by the blood. The muscle contraction that lasts for a while decreases the blood flow. As a result, the substances produced by your body muscles are not removed at the same pace, and they amass in the muscles. The collection of these substances annoys muscles. And it leads to pain gradually. The intensity of pain relies on the duration of the muscle contractions and the amount of time between activities for the muscles to make adjustments to remove those irritating substances.
Your nerves carry signals from your brain to your control activities of muscles. Also, they contain information about touch and pain from the body to the brain, temperature, and bodily control functions like salivation and sweating. Tendons, muscles, and ligaments usually manoeuvre your nerves. With the recursive motions and awkward body positions, the tissues encircling the nerves become squeezed and swollen or compress nerves. Here, compression of your nerve can cause muscle weakness, sensations of pins and needles and numbness. Poor circulation and dryness of the skin also might occur.
Your tendon contains multiple bundles of fibres that link muscles to bones. Tendon injuries concerning recursive or recurrent work activities and awkward positions happen in two categories. One is tendons with sheaths, which can be found primarily in the wrist or hand, and another one is tendons without sheaths, which can be found around the elbow, shoulder and forearm. The tendons of your hand are encased in sheaths by which the tendon slides.
The inner walls of the sheaths consist of cells that generate a slippery fluid to lubricate the tendon. With a recursive or frequent movement of the hand, the lubrication system might not work efficiently. It might not generate sufficient fluid, or it produces poor lubricating quality. This malfunction creates friction between the tendon and its sheaths that can cause inflammation and swelling of the tendon area. Frequent inflammation can cause fibrous tissue formation. It will thicken the tendon sheaths and hampers the tendon movement. Inflammation of the tendon sheath is referred to as tenosynovitis.
Tendon sheath might swell up while inflamed with lubricating fluid and cause a bump under your skin. We call it a ganglion cyst.
Tendon without sheaths is vulnerable to recursive motion and awkward positions. When the recursive tension is put on the tendon, it will become tense, and some of the fibres can tear apart. The tendon becomes bumpy and thickened, which can cause inflammation. We commonly consider it as tendonitis. In other cases, like in the shoulder, tendons pass by the restricted space between bones. The sac called bursa filled with lubricating fluid will sit between tendons and bones as an anti-friction device. As tendons become bumpy and thickened, a lot of friction will be put on the bursa, which will inflate. Inflammation of the bursa is referred to as bursitis.
Physical therapy can help workplace-related injuries with restriction of movement, exercise plan, application of cold and heat, customized treatment plan, medication and surgery (if required). You will find multiple options for work-related injury treatment in Calgary.
How to prevent work-related musculoskeletal injuries at the workplace?
Employers are duty bound to provide a safe and healthful working environment to their workers. In the workplace, the number and intensity of work-related musculoskeletal injuries resulting from physical overexertion are high. One should enforce ergonomic principles. It can reduce the risk of developing such injuries in high-risk industries like firefighting, construction, healthcare, food processing, warehousing and transportation.
Here are some of the suggestions to prevent injuries.
– Offer management support – with robust commitment and management, you can ensure the overall success of the ergonomic process. Management must rule out clear goals and purposes for the ergonomic process. They should discuss it with workers and make necessary changes when required.
– Involvement of workers – you should encourage your workers to partake in the process like solution development, worksite evaluation, and implementation to make your ergonomic process successful.
– Recognise and provide crucial information about the hazards of the workplace to workers.
– Give the essential training – it is the most crucial part of the ergonomic process. It makes sure that workers are conscious of it and its benefits.
– Identify the problems – encourage the early reporting of work-related musculoskeletal injuries. So that damage can be limited. Give useful information to workers to prevent the progression of symptoms.
– Implementing the solutions of controlling hazards – there are various solutions that you can deploy to limit, control and reduce the hazard. It will automatically reduce work-related musculoskeletal injuries.
Other than the prevention steps mentioned above, you can focus on teamwork, job rotation, workplace design, work practices and job enlargement to ensure the safety of the workers. If you have suffered any work-related injuries, you should visit a physiotherapy centre in Calgary to join the work quickly.