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Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Posted by UWSPcps - October 8, 2015 - Academics, Alumni, Featured, Health Sciences and Wellness

Lindsay WorleyLindsay Worley ’13 is originally from Sheridan, Wyoming, and received her bachelor’s degree in health promotion/wellness at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is in the process of completing her master’s degree in public health/community health education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and will become a certified health education specialist in May 2016.

Currently, Lindsay is a chiropractic technician at Infinity Wellness and Chiropractic in Plover and is also working on her graduate internship with Ministry Health Care Employer Solutions in Stevens Point.

Lindsay follows a holistic approach to healthcare and really believes in primary prevention. She is looking forward to completing her master’s degree and excited to be working in the field of health promotion and wellness and helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle.

This article is republished with permission from Ministry Health Care’s October Health e-News.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a leading cause of pain, suffering and disability in American workplaces. MSDs are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints and cartilage that cause inflammation and typically result from the work environment. Symptoms include back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hernia, numbness, fatigue and overall decreased body strength.

Risk Factors:
Examples of work conditions that may lead to MSDs are:

  • Sustaining improper posture positions over time
  • Lack of physical fitness and poor diet
  • Sitting too long at a desk or working on a computer, which can cause serious discomfort in the neck and result in low back pain and muscle fatigue
  • Psychosocial factors relating to work demands, which heighten stress levels
  • Tasks that call for frequent bending or twisting of the neck, shoulders, and back
  • Lifting heavy objects with incorrect form that result in extending parts of the body to near the extremes of their range of motion, putting tension and pressure on the tendons and nerves

Financial Burden of MSDs:
MSDs are also associated with high financial costs for the employer. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Agency (OSHA):

  • Work-related MSDs in the United States account for 600,000 injuries and illnesses
  • Employers spend as much as $20 billion a year of direct costs from MSD-related workers’ compensation claims. Total costs are estimated to be between $45-54 billion
  • MSD cases require 38 percent more lost-time days than the average injury/illness

How can YOU prevent MSDs?

  • For every sedentary hour, take a few minutes to stretch or walk around to get your body moving and increase circulation of blood flow to the muscles to minimize injury.
  • Make sure the monitor of your computer screen is positioned at eye level height, to prevent sustained periods of time in cervical flexion.
  • Get out and go for a walk for some fresh air and for a mental break.
  • Use proper lifting form, avoid twisting and lift with your legs not your back.
  • When lifting heavy objects, lift the load gradually and smoothly, keeping your back and your neck straight. The ear should be aligned with your shoulder, hip, knees and feet.

What can I do?
In order to maintain your overall health, you have to practice daily the fundamentals of general health. This includes maintaining a healthy body weight, staying active, and eating a well-balanced diet, which will help decrease stress and alleviate pressure on joints and muscles surrounding the bone. Engaging in injury-reducing behaviors, such as being cognizant of your overall body posture, and taking advantage of care options at your worksite, will prevent the risk of MSDs from developing.

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