Work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD’s) are common among many office workers. WMSDs are related to a common group of disorders that affect the nerves, muscles, and tendons of the body. Common related injuries include carpal tunnel, tension neck syndrome, and tendonitis to name a few. Areas affected are typically in the back, neck, shoulders, wrists, hands, elbows, knees, ankles, and feet. WMSDs occur when the body does more than it can withstand such as prolonged periods of standing or sitting. Office settings commonly rely on the use of computers meaning that workers are often sitting for prolonged periods of time.
WMSD’s are the leading cause of human injury and decrease in productivity in office workspaces because of fixed body positions. However, WMSD’s may also occur because of standing, repetitive motions, twisting, and lifting to name a few. It has been proven that WMSD’s result in three types of injuries including injuries to the nerves, muscles, and tendons. Work related musculoskeletal disorder symptoms occur in stages of early, intermediate and late. During the three stages, symptoms go from mild to severe with pain being the most commonly associated symptom. Eventually, the person suffering from WMSD’s may experience stiffness of the joints, redness and swelling in the area that is affected, and muscle tightness.
During the early stages of WMSD’s symptoms generally include mild aching and fatigue in the affected areas such as the limbs that are particularly bothersome while at work but seem to fade or disappear at night or after time away from work. During this stage work productivity is not affected and therefore the person may not even realize that there is a problem occurring within their body. It is especially important to pay attention for the appearance of these symptoms in order to treat them before they worsen or become persistent.
By the time, WMSD’s reach the intermediate stages, the person will continue to experience aching and fatigue in the affected area that will occur while at work and continue during the night with less intensity. Productivity starts to decrease at this point and repetitive motions become difficult. If the person does not seek treatment at this point WMSD’s will increase to the late stages that include extreme aching and fatigue of the areas affected and even signs of persistent weakness. At this point, the pain is extreme enough to disrupt normal sleeping patterns and greatly reduces performance and productivity in and out of the workplace.