Ergonomic hazards can contribute to the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD's), which can develop as a result of overuse of body tissues through awkward, repetitive and/or forceful movements. One of the goals of ergonomics is to design tasks to achieve optimum performance of a task while minimizing the risk of injury or discomfort.
What are musculoskeletal disorders?
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) are injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. They may be caused or aggravated by various hazards or risk factors in the workplace.
MSDs can occur in:
- Tendons and tendon sheathes
- Blood vessels
- Joints/spinal discs
MSD’s do not include musculoskeletal injuries or disorders that are the direct result of a fall, struck by or against, caught in or on, vehicle collision, violence, etc. They are caused by overuse of the musculoskeletal system, whether it be during a single forceful exertion, or through repeated use of the same joint over time. They are often known as “sprains and strains”.
Many body parts can be affected by MSD’s. The back is the most common, but the shoulders, neck, elbows, hands and wrists are also frequently involved. MSD-related pain and discomfort can also occur in the hips, knees, legs and feet. The incidence of tendonitis increases with age as muscles and tendons lose some of their elasticity.
A number of medical diagnoses are covered by the term MSD, including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist/hand)
- Epicondylitis (tennis or golfer’s elbow)
- Muscle strain
- Rotator cuff disorder or syndrome (shoulder)
- Tension neck syndrome
- Tendonitis or tenosynovitis (anywhere in the body)
- Back pain
While different body parts can be affected by these disorders, the symptoms of MSD’s are similar no matter where they occur.
The symptoms generally include:
- Pain with or without movement
- Swelling and tenderness
- Reduced range of motion and/or stiffness, and
- Tingling and/or numbness in nerve-related injuries or disorders