Work Related Pain & Injury
Most work is good for one’s health, it can offer a range of positive benefits for both mental and physical health. It provides not only financial gain but also psychological gain in terms of a sense of purpose, community and social inclusion and depending on the type of work, it may help to engage in physical activity. However, work related pain and injury are incredibly common, affecting thousands of people each year.
What Is Work Related Pain & Injury?
Work related pain and injury may be described as either Work Related Musculoskeletal Injuries (WRMI), Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD), or repetitive strain. These terms all refer to various disorders that occur as a result of injury or strain sustained at the workplace or during working duties. Work-related injuries can include physical injuries, occupational illnesses, and repetitive stress/strain injuries.
In most cases, work related pain and injury is associated with occupational tasks and poor ergonomics, with the hands, wrists, shoulders, back and neck the most commonly reported affected areas. In most cases, it is the soft tissue structures that are affected, namely the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Some disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, affect the nerves creating painful symptoms and can cause a lack of movement.
How Do Injuries Occur?
The majority of work-related musculoskeletal disorders are due to workplace equipment, overexertion, falls and repetitive tasks. Regular exposure to certain work-related activities or poor ergonomics are risk factors that can contribute to the development of painful and persistent symptoms that can interfere with performance at work as well as outside of the workplace.
Acute And Chronic Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders
Work related pain and injury can generally be divided into two categories. The first of which describes acute pain from a specific injury such as a fall or lifting a heavy load; the second category describes injuries that are the result of a repetitive movement or posture. The latter generally occurs over time and depending on the type of injury, the damage may be less obvious, however, the pain and injury caused, is no less serious.
Possible Causes Of Workplace Related Pain And Injury
- Repetitive movement (tasks such as packing / loading /swiping or using a mouse)
- Poor posture
- Using vibrating equipment
- Ill-adapted office furniture
- Unsuitable equipment
- Poor working environment
- Not taking enough breaks
- Remaining stationary or seated for extended periods of time
- Poor ergonomics
- Driving long distances
- Manual labour – pushing, pulling, or dragging heavy loads
The Importance of Correct Posture
Good posture is extremely important for all aspects of life, including in the workplace regardless of the occupation.
Poor Postural Habits
It is easy to get into habits of poor posture when both sitting and standing. Sitting for extended periods in a slumped position can have a knock-on effect on the body in many ways, resulting in one or more of the following issues: muscle and soft tissue strains and tension, chronic back, neck and shoulder pain, digestive problems, stiffness, aches and pains, nerve compression and general fatigue.
Good posture brings with it a wide range of benefits, helping to minimise the risk of musculoskeletal pain as well as aiding digestion and respiration by allowing the rib cage and diaphragm muscles to expand properly.
What Can Influence Our Posture?
- A poor ergonomic workstation
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Muscle weakness
- Low level of general fitness
- Lack of awareness of correct posture
Office Work Related Pain and Injury
Modern life means that many of us are desk-based spending many hours of the working week in front a screen and this type of work is often associated with back and neck pain.
Injuries sustained in other types of work such as manual labour are typically more visible and well documented, for example, injury following a fall or injury by lifting heavy goods. For office workers, musculoskeletal pain and injury is more subtle and usually develops over time, often causing longer term damage typically to the lower back and neck pain.
Ergonomics And Musculoskeletal Pain
Poor posture and unsuitable work furniture and equipment can have an adverse effect on the body in the long run. The height of the computer monitor, position of the keyboard and mouse, extended periods of sitting in an unsuitable chair, and incorrect posture such as sitting lopsided, cradling the phone in one ear, hunching forward to look at the screen (where the weight of the forward leaning head excessively puts a strain on the neck and the shoulders), can all lead to neck and back pain and other work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Over time these issues could potentially develop into longer term problems like osteoarthritis.
An ergonomic workplace assessment and suitable furniture and equipment is paramount to creating a healthy environment and reducing the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
Read more about correct posture in the workplace here.
Management and Treatment
Persistent pain can be extremely debilitating and lead to the disruption of numerous day to day activities affecting performance at work, social life, and sleep patterns.
It is important to identify the issues that cause work related pain in order to start to correct them. Employees have a responsibility to ensure that the working environment minimises the risk of work-related injury and discomfort, regardless of the occupation. This includes an ergonomic workplace assessment and investing in an ergonomic workstation for office work.
How Can Physiotherapy Help Work Related Musculoskeletal Pain And Injuries?
Physiotherapy is highly effective in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries across all areas of the body, including the back and the neck. It helps millions of people throughout the world to remain mobile and active at work.
Physiotherapists are trained to assist people in the prevention of injuries as well as recovery and rehabilitation.
Through the use of targeted exercises, hands on manipulation, different techniques and exercise plans, physiotherapy can help with strength building, correct posture, and improved flexibility. A well-trained physiotherapist will be able to identify musculoskeletal disorders and accurately pinpoint the soft tissue structures, such as individual muscles, tendons or ligaments that have been affected and begin treatment to repair any existing damage or injuries.
This type of treatment also helps to promote general wellbeing and improved health by teaching better habits and lifestyle choices, as well as correcting posture and body alignment, helping to address neck and back pain, general injuries, and a loss of mobility.
Physiotherapy can effectively treat both workplace injuries and long-term chronic injuries as well.
We offer a wide range of physiotherapy and related services from our clinics. All of our physiotherapists are specialist, highly experienced clinicians offering excellent results.
If you are experiencing any work-related pain or injury and would like to discuss this further, get in touch today.