Work-Related Muscle Disorders Could Lock You Out of Your Job

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), musculoskeletal disorders are one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness.

Musculoskeletal disorders include conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strains, tendinitis, and arthritis.

Jobs that require repetition, awkward body postures, or heavy lifting put workers at risk for numerous musculoskeletal disorders. If you’re concerned about the effect your job is having on your body, you should speak with your employer and work with him to come up with a solution.

Overview of Work-Related Muscle Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders can affect anyone. However, there are certain occupations that place their workers at a higher risk for injury. In fact, 25 percent of work-related muscle injuries come from six specific occupations:

  • Freight loading
  • Nursing
  • Janitorial work
  • Truck driving
  • Office work
  • Maintenance

Within these occupations, the following conditions are most often reported:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the central nerve in the wrist becomes pressed or squeezed as a result of inflammation. This condition is generally considered to be a repetitive strain injury and is the fastest growing occupational hazard today. As the nerve is pinched, the wrist and hand may become numb, partially paralyzed, swollen, and painful.

Though carpal tunnel can make it extremely difficult for someone to do his job properly, it is a preventable condition that often responds to treatment.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

Though small, the ACL plays an important role in the inner workings of your leg. The ACL is found in the middle of the knee, and its job is to prevent the tibia (lower leg bone) from sliding out in front of the femur (upper leg bone). When an ACL injury occurs, the ligament is over-stretched or tears, causing severe pain and instability.

Most injuries to the ACL occur when a person changes directions rapidly, stops suddenly, slows down rapidly, lands from a jump incorrectly, or experiences some type of direct contact or collision.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff is located in the shoulder, playing an important role in helping your shoulder move and remain stable. It’s made up of muscles and tendons which can get torn, strained, or inflamed. If you have a job that involves repetitive overhead movement of your arms, or a lot of heavy lifting, this can cause stress on your rotator cuff muscles or tendons, resulting in an injury.

Back Strain

The muscles in your back are responsible—even if only in a small way—for almost every movement you make. Whether you have a pulled latissimus dorsi (the lower back muscle behind the ribs) or a tensed rhomboid (shoulder muscle), placing any stretch, twist, or pressure on the injured muscle will cause severe pain. As a result, mobility is greatly decreased.

Both the activities of daily living and most work duties demand a certain degree of mobility. Unfortunately, back strain and immobility can make these tasks physically impossible.

Avoiding Muscle Strain

With a little prevention, workers can increase productivity, lessen muscle fatigue, and reduce their chances of a workplace injury. The term “ergonomics” refers to equipment and furniture that lessen strain and promote muscle comfort. OSHA encourages employee safety by advising employers to educate and train their workers on the importance of muscle health, balance, and ergonomics. This guidance includes training on the following:

Posture. Good posture can go a long way in preventing back, neck, and shoulder strain. Employers should encourage their employees to sit straight and support their backs. They should also recommend that workstations are organized so there’s no need for overextending or stretching to reach equipment, including computers, keyboards, telephones, and writing utensils.
Movement. Routine movement should be encouraged to prevent muscles from seizing or tightening. Walking around every 20 to 30 minutes increases blood circulation as well as allows the muscles to stretch. Periodic movement can also decrease the effects of an awkward position. This is especially beneficial if the employee didn’t even realize his posture or position placed him at risk for injury.
Ergonomic risk factors. When appropriate equipment, like ergonomic chairs, padded floor mats or footrests, and muscle braces, isn’t provided or properly used, workers are placed in extreme danger of suffering muscle fatigue and long-term risks. However, employees can’t know their risks unless someone tells them…and that’s a role for employers. To keep their employees healthy, employers must be willing to discuss health risks and ways to avoid injury.

Don’t Let the Insurance Company Muscle You Out of Benefits. Call Steve Lee Today

If you were injured at work, a workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure that your rights and interests are upheld. Muscle pain can be extremely painful and inconvenient. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may not be able to complete daily tasks, let alone work duties. Let attorney Steve Lee work with you to secure a reasonable recovery while protecting your financial independence. Call, click, or chat now to schedule your complimentary consultation.

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