You can develop a musculoskeletal disorder doing any type of job since this disorder relates to your muscles, nerves and/or tendons—which you use in just about any job. Even when you’re working at a computer the entire day, your hands, wrists, arms and back undergo stress from sitting for long hours and engaging in the repetitive motion of typing, which can lead to repetitive stress injury. Repetitive stress injury is another term for musculoskeletal disorder. In Arizona, at least 4,000 cases of musculoskeletal disorders cause employees to take time off of work each year.
Causes of musculoskeletal disorders
It’s not only repetitive motions that could cause a musculoskeletal disorder. Working with vibrating equipment, lifting heavy objects and pulling and pushing items or equipment could injure your muscles, nerves or tendons. Exposure to the cold for long periods is another risk factor because cold temperatures tighten your muscles, putting you at a higher risk of injury. Awkward postures while working are other contributing factors to repetitive stress injuries. It’s important that you have your workstation set up in an ergonomic way. Employers are responsible for ensuring that employees have ergonomic setups even if they work remotely.
Occupations that have the greatest risk of causing musculoskeletal disorders include:
- Office jobs
- Construction jobs
- Manufacturing jobs
- Factory jobs
- Driving jobs
Warning signs of a musculoskeletal disorder
Stiffness in your muscles after work is an early warning sign. You may want to incorporate stretches into your daily routine to help keep your muscles flexible. Numbness, tingling, burning, aches, pain and swelling are other symptoms of a musculoskeletal disorder. You might have decreased joint movement and/or strength as well.
Everyone is at risk of developing a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, although this risk is higher in certain occupations. If you notice the symptoms early on, you could prevent a serious case of a RSI.