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10 min. walk from Boston Manor Tube Station.
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E8, E3, E2, 207, 607, 83
Millions of Europeans suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) every year. The statistics from the European Survey on Working Conditions are staggering — 24.7% of workers have backaches, 22.8% have pain in their muscles, and 45.5% say that their jobs require them to work in repetitive and painful conditions. Out of all the occupational diseases in the EU, MSDs are by far the most common.
In Great Britain alone, 469,000 workers suffer from work-related MSDs, with the result that 6.6 million total days of work are lost due to these debilitating conditions. MSDs don't only lead to lost workdays (and in some cases, lost jobs), they can seriously impact your quality of life and contribute to lifelong pain and dysfunction. Let's take a closer look at MSDs — who's at risk, which conditions are most common, and how a physiotherapist can help.
Your musculoskeletal system consists of your muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, and vertebral discs. Also commonly known as overuse injuries or repetitive stress injuries, musculoskeletal disorders cause serious pain and limit your movement, function, and range of motion. In general, MSDs can be traced back to certain risk factors at your job such as:
• Extended periods of standing
• Repetitive movements like bending and twisting
• Sitting at a desk and typing for long periods of time
• Overexertion and heavy lifting
• Poor ergonomic support at work
If your job includes any of these risk factors — like requiring repetitive motions throughout the day — then you may be at risk for a work-related musculoskeletal disorder. In addition, certain lifestyle habits like having poor nutrition, being overweight, or getting inadequate sleep can contribute to your chances of suffering an MSD. It's important to pay close attention to any changes in pain level, functionality, or soreness that may occur at work as a result of repetitive motions. By acting quickly, you can seek help from a physiotherapist before your condition worsens.
If you do suffer a work-related MSD, it may impact your ability to do your job correctly. Worse, it may have negative consequences for your overall quality of life by causing pain and dysfunction that prevents you from performing and enjoying day-to-day activities. Over the long run, musculoskeletal disorders have been known to lead to job loss and lifelong disability.
With MSDs, injuries are caused by a combination of your work conditions and your own personal fitness and wellness habits. Over time, poor practices and harsh working conditions often lead to some of these common musculoskeletal disorders:
Individuals with arthritis experience frequent pain in or around a joint like the knee or hip. This pain can limit your activity and disrupt your activities of daily living — and is often associated with carrying heavy loads, unnatural positions at work (like crawling), or repetitive movements that affect the joints.
Your back is a complex structure, and any injury to the vertebral discs or to the muscles that support your spinal cord and core can result in serious pain. Back pain is a common issue for workers whose jobs require heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and unnatural positions. However, pain in the upper back and neck can also be caused by prolonged periods of sitting at work — especially in cases where workers are using improper posture.
Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome experience pain, tingling, weakness, or numbness in their wrist as a result of compression of the median nerve in the wrist. This issue is often associated with workers who do administrative tasks that require typing.
Jobs that require repetitive motions of the wrist and arm can lead to tendonitis which is a painful inflammation of a tendon. Those who suffer from tendonitis might experience pain, swelling, numbness, and decrease in ability and range of motion in the affected area.
Those who work in positions that require heavy lifting and exertion are prone to muscle strains and ligament sprains. These painful conditions are common for workers in manufacturing positions who are often subject to highly repetitive movements with insufficient time for muscles to recuperate in between motions.
Though work-related MSDs can create a stressful, aggravating, and painful situation for sufferers, seeking physiotherapy treatment can make all the difference. Physiotherapists are professionals who are trained to diagnose and treat ailments of the musculoskeletal system. For MSDs, a treatment plan with a physiotherapist might include all or some of the following:
In some cases, it might be necessary to use assistive devices like braces, splints, or supportive cushions following a work-related MSD. Not only will your physiotherapist make sure that you have access to the correct device for your situation, but they will also counsel you on the correct body mechanics for using these devices appropriately and preventing further injury.
Muscle overuse and muscle weakness are both significant contributing factors to strains, sprains, and back injuries like herniated discs. To help treat and prevent injury to your muscles, your physiotherapist will work with you to develop targeted strengthening exercises. You will do some of these strengthening exercises in the office, and your practitioner will also provide you with exercises to do at home.
Many MSDs are caused or exacerbated by using poor posture or ergonomics at work. A physiotherapist can help identify any postural habits that are causing issues — and teach you how to adjust your positioning at work accordingly. For instance, if your job includes a lot of lifting that puts you at risk for developing strains and sprains, your physiotherapist will work with you on how to lift appropriately with your legs and glute muscles to avoid issues. Or if you have chronic neck and shoulder tension from sitting at a computer all day, your physiotherapist will help teach you body mechanics for sitting and typing.
As we perform repetitive activities at work, our muscles become tight and inflexible which can lead to pain and dysfunction. During a session with a physiotherapist, your practitioner will probably perform some passive stretches on you to encourage your muscles to lengthen. In addition, they will teach you some active stretches that you can do both at home and at work to prevent further injury.
If your job requires repetitive movements, physical exertion, or long periods of standing or sitting, it's a good idea to see a qualified physiotherapist for preventative care. In cases where you have already suffered a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, a physiotherapist can help get you back on track with exercises, stretches, postural techniques, and adaptive devices.
The trained and compassionate team at CK Physio in London can help you address your MSDs. Interested in learning more about how physiotherapy can help? Please feel free to contact us today.