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Job-related musculoskeletal disorders: risk factors, prevention, and treatment

Pennsylvania workers' compensationWhat are musculoskeletal disorders? According to healthline, they are conditions that affect the muscles, bones, and joints. Common symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders include discomfort, stiffness, or inflammation in the neck, shoulders, back, knees, hips, legs, feet, and limbs.

Job-related activities that can cause musculoskeletal disorders include:

  • Hours of sitting at a desk
  • Repetitive physical motions
  • Heavy lifting
  • Maintaining a poor posture

Facts and figures

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of musculoskeletal disorders in 2016 across all industries involved back injuries. Workers who were the most affected by back injuries included:

  • Nursing assistants — 52.8%
  • Janitors and cleaners — 37.5%
  • Stock clerks and order fillers — 45.7%
  • Maintenance and repair workers — 42.5%
  • Truck drivers — 32.4%
  • Laborers — 43%

The bad news is musculoskeletal disorders are very common in adults. If you work in certain occupations, you are at a greater risk of developing a musculoskeletal condition. The good news is these conditions are often preventable and treatable.

Ergonomics and prevention

Preventing work-related musculoskeletal conditions can be accomplished through ergonomics, which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls "fitting a job to a person." Effective ergonomics has been proven to reduce the likelihood of sustaining a musculoskeletal disorder and boost productivity in the workplace. It involves making accommodations that promote a safe and healthy workplace.

OSHA urges employers to do the following:

  • Provide adequate management support and communication
  • Allow workers to make assessments and offer solutions
  • Provide ergonomics training and urge workers to report early signs of musculoskeletal disorders
  • Identify and address possible risks in the workplace
  • Keep track of progress, such as reduction of injury cases and increased productivity

Treating musculoskeletal disorders

If you have already sustained a musculoskeletal disorder due to the nature of your job, it's important that you don't ignore the symptoms. Doing so will only worsen your condition over time and lead to serious pain and inflammation to the affected areas.

Recovering from a musculoskeletal disorder may require some time away from work. Effective treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Acupuncture, massage, and other holistic treatments
  • Medication for pain and inflammation
  • Osteopathic treatment
  • Relaxation techniques

Treatment for musculoskeletal disorders can be expensive. As long as your condition is work-related, however, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover the costs.

Obtaining workers’ compensation is easier said than done. Moreover, proving that a musculoskeletal disorder is job-related requires the work of a highly-skilled attorney.

The legal team at Vellner Law, P.C. knows how the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system works and how to advocate for a fair settlement. To maximize your chance of receiving benefits, contact our law office today and schedule your free consultation.

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