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Understanding the 4 Most Common Musculoskeletal Disorders

Avoid painful on-the-job injuries

Musculoskeletal disorders, also known as MSDs, account for 600,000 injuries that require days away from work and cost businesses between $15 billion and $18 billion annually. People working in every industry, from manufacturing to restaurant and hotel staff, are at risk of having to deal with MSDs. Identifying and treating MSDs early or preventing them outright will save money and keep people from being unable to work due to pain.

Here are 4 of the most common MSDs, their symptoms, and ways to prevent them:

  1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an MSD that affects the hand due to pressure on the median nerve which controls movement and feeling in the thumb and first three fingers. It is caused by swelling or anything else that makes the carpal tunnel smaller.


  • Numbness in the wrist, forearm, or hand at night
  • Stiff fingers in the morning after waking
  • Pain or numbness that increases when using the wrist or hand
  • Aching pain between the wrist and the elbow
  • Tingling numbness that occurs occasionally


  • Take breaks when possible
  • Relax your grip
  • Use proper posture
  • Maintain muscle strength in your arm, hand, and fingers
  1. Tendinitis

Tendinitis, sometimes spelled tendonitis, is a condition in which a tendon becomes inflamed or irritated from overuse. Severe tendinitis can lead to the rupture of a tendon. Some types of tendonitis include tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, and jumper’s knee.


  • The tenderness that builds up gradually or occurs suddenly
  • Loss of motion in the joint
  • Swelling of the affected area


  • Stretch before beginning rigorous activity
  • Take breaks or alternate your tasks
  • Work out to increase muscle strength
  1. Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tears happen when the tendon is either partially or completely severed due to sudden action, such as falling or lifting something heavy, or over time from wear and tear.


  • Deep, dull shoulder ache
  • Inability to sleep on the affected shoulder
  • Weakness in the arm


  • Stretch your shoulder daily
  • Strengthen your shoulder muscles with exercise
  1. Lower Back Strain

A lower back strain happens when the muscles in the back are stretched too far by extreme physical exertion, falling, improper posture, bending repeatedly, lifting heavy objects, or sitting in the same position for extended periods of time.


  • Stiffness in the back
  • Pain that radiates into the leg
  • Stabbing pain
  • Muscle ache


  • Exercise and build muscle strength
  • Sit properly – with knees and hips level
  • Lift with your legs, not with your back

Musculoskeletal disorders account for 31 percent of all work injury cases in the United States. Knowing how to prevent MSDs or identify them early will lower that percentage and will help keep you from having to miss days to recover from injury. Additionally, consider physical therapy if you suffer from any MSDs. Physical therapy provides a permanent, non-invasive solution to almost all MSDs, removing the need for costly surgery or long-term pain medication. You can read more about the benefits of physical therapy on our blog.

At Nova Medical Centers we specialize in Occupational Health. From our superb services to our convenient electronic systems, we provide instant, personalized care for employees who have suffered work-related injuries.


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