Everything you need to know about musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a set of pathologies that affect the upper and lower limbs, as well as the human spine. These conditions are due to behaviors and gestures to which one is exposed during the performance of certain professional activities. Their consequences can range from mild or sharp pain to permanent discomfort during movement. They are the cause of thousands of work absenteeism and job loss. According to the WHO, they are now a public health problem and even more, a major occupational health concern.

Different types of musculoskeletal disorders

The term "musculoskeletal disorders" does not refer to a single disease. It is rather a question of various affections among which we find lumbago, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, rotator cuff syndrome.

Low back pain

Low back pain is pain that is generated in the lumbar vertebrae (lower back). They can be felt up to the level of the buttocks, behind the thighs and even to the back of the knees. A distinction is made between common low back pain and symptomatic low back pain. These diseases, although benign in some cases, can make you immobile or invalid and require special surgery.

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Cervical pain

In the lot of MSDs, neck pain is one of the most recurrent ailments. These are sharp pains experienced in the cervical vertebrae (top of the spine) or neck. It is usually manifested by headaches, body aches, disability and the presence of itching in the fingers.

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carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist

Carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist is characterized by muscle weakness in the wrist. It is also manifested by drowsiness and tingling in the fingers. These symptoms are the consequence of the pressure of the median nerve at the level of the wrist. At the beginning of the disease, the clinical signs are banal and even temporary. At an advanced stage, they intensify considerably so that, consulting a doctor becomes imperative.

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Risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders originate from several factors. Indeed, they are caused by movements of the arm and the hand which are a priori harmless in the context of domestic and daily tasks. It is rather in a work situation or in a professional environment that these normal actions become harmful and risky. In other words, it is their uninterrupted repetition, followed by intensive efforts and pressure, and the lack of recovery time that is at the origin of MSDs. To these are added the awkward postures at work, the handling of heavy weights, the use of vibrating, hot or cold objects. There may be risk factors that are unrelated to work situations. For example, there is age, obesity, family history, lifestyle, etc.

In reality, a single factor cannot in isolation cause a musculoskeletal disorder. It takes the regular association and interference of several for there to be trauma, lesions and manifestations of the signs of an MSD.

Manifestations of musculoskeletal disorders

The symptoms of MSDs result from the origin and nature of the pathology. Overall, they are manifested by pain. These are moderately experienced at first and then gradually become more pronounced:

  • At the preliminary level, MSDs are manifested by pain and loss of vigor;
  • At the second level the pain arises quickly and lasts throughout the day. There are also joint swelling and stiffness at this level;
  • In the final stage of the disease, the symptoms are more severe. Depending on the nature of the disease, there is the appearance of inflammation, disability, muscle damage, difficulty in performing simple movements, etc.