What Are Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs)?

When a muscle, tendon, nerve or joint is stressed and traumatised on a repeated basis for days, months or years, those body tissues eventually become damaged. This leads to a work related musculoskeletal disorder. Work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are sometimes called repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), cumulative trauma disorders and overuse injuries. When a WMSD develops a worker experiences:

1. swelling, as tissues become irritated

2. pain

3. stiffness and loss of range of motion of surrounding joints

4. inability to work and function at home

Besides the most common upper extremity disorders, WMSDs may also affect the low back, knees, ankles and feet.

How Do You Treat WMSDs?

Ergonomics should be a priority in the work place, so WMSDs are prevented instead of treated.

If you think you have signs and symptoms of a repetitive strain injury, see your doctor. Make sure your doctor has a description of your job and understands how your job affects your body. Treatment may involve a combination of approaches, such as:

• job modifications

• services of health professionals, such as physiotherapists  

  or massage therapists

• exercise program

• use of medication for pain relief

• application of heat or cold

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