Work-Related Upper Limb Disorder
Work-Related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULDs), also known as Repetitive Strain Disorder (RSI), describes a range of painful disorders affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves. These are generally caused by repetitive movements at work and are typically associated with the upper body. common examples include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVs)
- Dupuytren’s contracture
Work-Related Upper Limb Disorder Symptoms
There is a range of possible symptoms which may occur in any of the areas of the upper body, these could include:
- Localised or referred pain
- Swelling of the joints
- Pins and needles
- Loss of strength in the hands
- Cramping in the fingers or arms
- Reduced movement in the joints
WRULDs are associated with the workplace – there are a number of possible causes of WRULDs such as:
- Prolonged repetitive work
- Uncomfortable or awkward positions
- Sustained or excessive force or grip
- Using handheld power tools for long periods
- Vibrating equipment
- Working at poorly designed workstations
- Not taking enough breaks
- Poor working environment such as dusty conditions, cold environment etc.
- There may also be psychosocial elements, including tight deadlines, high workloads, fatigue etc., which can exacerbate any work-related symptoms.
Prevention and Treatment
It is the responsibility of the employer to reduce the risks of WRULDs by implementing any necessary changes. This may include ensuring that tools and equipment are suitable for the task, for example, workstations should be suitable for working – adjusted to suit the correct height, operators should have regular breaks and work under good conditions with protection from any adverse conditions.
Employers can carry out a risk assessment to make sure that workstations are safe and set up correctly and that employers are trained to use the equipment properly.
Work-Related Upper Limb Disorders affect thousands of people every year in the UK and if ignored, can cause long term disability. It can often be prevented by making small changes to the work environment or work technique and in most cases successfully treated with physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy for Work-Related Upper Limb Disorders
One of the best types of treatment for any type of WRULD related disorder is physiotherapy. This type of treatment aims to improve the health and mobility of the tissue through various techniques involving specific stretches and exercises as well as hands-on manipulation. Targeted physiotherapy can help to stretch out tightened bands of muscle which are a result of poor posture or repetitive strain. As each presentation is different and individual, any type of treatment should be tailored to suit individual needs, with a personalised treatment.
Another type of useful treatment which is sometimes combined with physiotherapy is the use of TENS units. This describes a type of electrical treatment that stops pain messages from going to the brain.
Clinical opinion seems to suggest that good posture, a healthy active lifestyle and exercise may be critical factors in improving this distressing condition. More importantly, an ergonomic / workstation assessment is clearly as important a measure in the prevention of this type of disorder as physiotherapy.
We offer a wide range of physiotherapy and related services from our South West London clinics. Our treatments are based on established techniques supported by the latest research and proven to be valid and effective. All of our physiotherapists are highly experienced and specialist clinicians, offering hands-on treatment with superb results.
Ergonomic/Home Workstation Assessment
With a high percentage of the population still working from home and set to do so into the near future, it is important that the home workstation and environment are ergonomic and good for our health.
We offer an ergonomic/home workstation assessment with the aim of evaluating the working environment, determining how this may be causing any aches, pain or discomfort present and implementing changes to reduce the risk of postural-related pain while working from home. During this online video assessment, one of our experienced physiotherapists will assess your home workstation and suggest any necessary or useful changes or improvements that could be made to help reduce and avoid any painful symptoms. They will also offer some postural desk-based exercises which can be carried out on a regular basis to help keep any painful symptoms at bay.
Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you.