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What are Musculoskeletal Disorders and What Causes Them?

musculoskeletal disorders and causes

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are a group of conditions that affect the muscles, bones, and joints in the body. These disorders can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty with movement.

Treatment for these disorders often involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.

This content piece will look at a few MSDs and their causes, especially with manual handling work practices.

The Symptoms of MSDs

MSDs have a wide range of symptoms, with various types of MSDs.

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bruising and discoloration
  • Joint stiffness
  • Inflammation
  • Difficulty in moving

Types of MSDs

MSDs have several types with varying degrees of severity. Some common types of musculoskeletal disorders include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and tendinitis. Each of these types of MSDs has various symptoms, often more than one, which can be a temporary or chronic condition.

What are the Causes of MSDs?

There are many different causes of musculoskeletal disorders. In some cases, the exact cause of a musculoskeletal disorder may not be known. MSDs in professional workplaces typically occur due to repeated movements, prolonged strain and stretching of the muscles, bad postures, a lack of ergonomics in work equipment, and more.

1.       Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a type of joint disease that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints wears down over time. Over time, the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away, leading to bone rubbing on bone and causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it can affect any joint in the body, but it is most commonly found in the hips, knees, and hands.

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This can happen for several reasons, including age, genetics, and previous injuries. However, it can also be caused by a sedentary lifestyle, which is what most office jobs entail.

That means if you sit on a desk chair for long hours, and tend to not be very active outside of your work life, it can cause problems down the line. A key recommendation would be to incorporate short, 10-minute breaks into your working hours and consider an active, physical hobby after the work hours.

2.       Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause the joints to become inflamed. It typically affects the hands, feet, wrists, and knees, and can cause significant pain and discomfort. It occurs as an autoimmune response in the body, though the exact cause is unknown. Still, it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Smoking and obesity are two factors that either increase risk or further exacerbate an existing condition.

3.       Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms of fibromyalgia can include fatigue, sleep disturbances, and difficulties with memory and concentration.

If a person already has RA, they can develop fibromyalgia. Just like RA, the causes of this disease are also not fully understood. However, a few known risk factors that can further exacerbate or can cause fibromyalgia include:

  • Injuries from repetitive stress on muscles and joints
  • Viral infections or any other illnesses
  • Obesity and overweightness
  • A family history of fibromyalgia or similar diseases

4.       Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle, making them more likely to break. It is often called the “silent disease” because it can progress without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis is most common in adults, but it can affect people of all ages.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include a family history of the disease, being over the age of 50, and having a small, thin frame.

Other causes include:

  • Long-term use of steroids
  • A lack of physical activity
  • A lack of calcium and vitamin D in the diet
  • Some medical conditions, such as celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis, can also increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Additionally, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of developing the condition.

5.       Tendinitis

Tendinitis is where the tendons can become inflamed. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones, and when they become inflamed, they can cause pain and discomfort.

Tendinitis is typically caused by repetitive strain or overuse of a particular tendon, but an injury or infection can also cause it.

The most common cause of tendinitis is a repetitive strain or overuse of a particular tendon. This can occur when a person engages in the same motion over and over again, such as typing on a keyboard or playing a musical instrument, with consistent repetitions over a prolonged period. An underlying condition of arthritis can also increase the risk of developing tendinitis.

The Solution to the Problem

There are various causes for MSDs, but one key takeaway is that both a sedentary lifestyle and one that is too excessive can be harmful to our bodies. In a professional environment where manual handling or long hours spent working sitting at a desk are required, it is vital to provide training sessions to employees, such as a manual handling online course. Moreover, providing alternatives or tools to reduce its effects can also be helpful in this regard.

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