Work and musculoskeletal disorders. How can we deal with them?
The term musculoskeletal disorders includes health problems of the elements that contribute to movement, such as muscles, tendons, bones, cartilage, vascular system, ligaments and nerves.
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are injuries to parts of the body such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, nerves, bones and blood vessels, which are caused or exacerbated mainly by work and its effects. of the immediate work environment. Most work-related musculoskeletal disorders are cumulative diseases, due to repeated exposure to high or low-intensity stress over a long period of time. However, musculoskeletal disorders can also be acute injuries, such as fractures, that occur during an accident.
These diseases mainly affect the back, neck, shoulders and upper extremities, but can also occur in the lower extremities. Some musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, have clear signs and symptoms. Others present only with pain or discomfort without a clear indication of a specific condition.
Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common work-related problem in Europe. Almost 24% of workers in Europe report suffering from back and lumbar pain and 22% complain of myalgias. Both diseases are more prevalent in the new Member States, at 39% and 36% respectively.
Depending on the type of work, there are different risk factors for the body, increasing the risk of developing some musculoskeletal disorders.
Indicative risk factors that may be responsible for the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders are:
- Prolonged standing
- Prolonged sedentary work
- Large power applications
- Repeated movements
- Weight lifting mistakes
- Poor body alignment when performing the task
- Work tool weight and tool handle
- Work rate
- Habits of the person (smoking, lack of exercise, etc.)
- Somatometric characteristics of the individual (age, height, weight, etc.)
- Psychological stress at work etc.
In order to reduce the risk of disorders, first of all, on the one hand, the factors related to the employee must be improved and on the other hand, the work must be ergonomically correct and psychosocially tolerated.
Regular exercise for strengthening and flexibility of the body, adopting a healthy lifestyle, maintaining the desired body weight, creates a strong body so that it can cope with stress. On the other hand, the implementation of correct ergonomic tactics play an important role. Maintaining a generally upright posture at work, frequent breaks especially if the work is monotonous, has many repetitions, or prolonged static position, as well as the correct lifting of loads are some of the basic things that need to be taken care of. Also, the lack of pressure in the workplace and good cooperation with colleagues is essential.
Unfortunately, despite the advancement of science and the possibilities for safe and productive work at work, work-related musculoskeletal disorders are a major problem worldwide, constantly worsening even in the most economically developed countries. The modern way of life, smoking, poor diet, stress and lack of exercise as well as working conditions that are mostly characterized by intensification, flexible hours, overtime and measures such as the abolition of the Sunday holiday and raising age limits retirement contributes to the exacerbation and perpetuation of the phenomenon if we do not take action.
The solution to deal with this phenomenon is in the hands of every human being. In order to achieve prevention and to have a drastic reduction of work-related musculoskeletal diseases, it is crucial that workers collectively work with health professionals to improve their working conditions and to create free public sports and leisure facilities. contribute to improving health and quality of life.
The rehabilitation of such diseases includes the treatment of the symptoms and the restoration of strength and neuromuscular coordination with exercises and natural means in order to restore the functionality of the affected area. In addition, proper ergonomics and body function are learned for daily life activities to reduce the risk of re-injury.
Essentially, the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders requires an integrated management approach. This approach should include not only the prevention of new cases, but also the stay at work, the rehabilitation and reintegration of workers already suffering from musculoskeletal disorders.
Kontzaelias DA, (2011). Physiotherapy in diseases of the musculoskeletal system, Publications: UniversityStudioPress, Thessaloniki.