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Musculoskeletal Disorders

‘‘Musculoskeletal disorders include a wide range of inflammatory and degenerative conditions affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, peripheral nerves, and supporting blood vessels. These include clinical syndromes such as tendon inflammations and related conditions (tenosynovitis, epicondylitis, bursitis), nerve compression disorders (carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica), and osteoarthrosis, as well as less well standardized conditions such as myalgia, low back pain and other 
regional pain syndromes not attributable to known pathology. Body regions most commonly involved are the low back, neck, shoulder, forearm, and hand, although recently the lower extremity has received more attention.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are widespread in many countries, with substantial costs and impact on quality of life. Although not uniquely caused by work, they constitute a major proportion of all registered and/or compensable work-related diseases in many countries. Accurate data on the incidence and prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders are difficult to obtain, and official statistics are difficult to compare across countries. Nevertheless, MSDs are the single largest category of work-related illness, representing a third or more of all registered occupational diseases in the United States, the Nordic countries, and Japan 
[6,49,54,73]. Numerous surveys of working populations have reported upper extremity symptom prevalences of 20 to 30% or even higher. In the United States, Canada, Finland, Sweden, and England, musculoskeletal disorders cause more work absenteeism or disability than any other group of diseases [4,15,39,54,63,65].

MSDs occur in certain industries and occupations 
with rates up to three or four times higher than the overall frequency. High-risk sectors include nursing facilities; air transportation; mining; food processing; leather tanning; and heavy and light manufacturing (vehicles, furniture, appliances, electrical and electronic products, textiles, apparel and shoes) [6]. Upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders are also highly 
prevalent in manual-intensive occupations, such as clerical work, postal service, cleaning, industrial inspection and packaging [63]. Back and lower limb disorders occur disproportionately among truck drivers, warehouse workers, airplane baggage handlers, construction trades, nurses, nursing aides and other patient-care workers, and operators of cranes and other large vehi- cles [54].”*

* Passage taken from the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 14 (2004) 13–23 
”Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: the epidemiologic evidence and the debate” 
Authors: Laura Punnett, David H. Wegman 
University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854, USA

The information on The Job Stress Network is for educational purposes only. The Job Stress Network and the Center for Social Epidemiology are not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services (such as consulting on individual worker’s compensation cases). The information provided through our website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or may suspect you have a health problem, you should seek appropriate medical attention from your health care provider.

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