You may suffer a work-related injury, whether acute or chronic, in any part of the body. However, many affect the musculoskeletal system, which includes not only muscles and bones but also cartilage, spinal disks, joints, nerves and tendons.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, if employment duties or the general work environment contribute significantly to the condition, it is a work-related musculoskeletal disorder. Working conditions may worsen the disorder or cause it to persist for an unexpectedly long time. Some of the most common work-related musculoskeletal disorders include the following.
Arthritis is a broad term that includes over 100 conditions that cause pain or damage to the joints. Though most people associate arthritis with the elderly, as many as two-thirds of those affected are under age 65. People employed in occupations such as agriculture, construction and mining are at greater risk for work-related osteoarthritis, often affecting the hip and/or knee.
- Back injuries
Fabricators, laborers and operators, as well as those involved in repair, precision production and craft, make up over half of all work-related back injuries. Associated back problems can become chronic in 5% to 10% of patients.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
An estimated 1.9 million people in the United States experience carpal tunnel syndrome. People who work in technical, administrative support and sales may be at higher risk. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the median nerve when tissues in the wrist put pressure on it due to swelling. Because it affects nerve tissue besides the brain and spinal cord, it is a peripheral nerve disorder.
The science of adapting job demands and workplace conditions to workers’ capabilities is called ergonomics. It can help reduce the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders when applied in the workplace.