Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are injuries of to the body’s musculoskeletal system. This includes but is not limited to tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and discs. According to the CDC, work-related MSD’s are commonly caused by bodily reaction, overexertion, or repetitive motion. Examples include bending, lifting, reaching, twisting, pushing, and pulling.

Common MSD’s include but are not limited to:

  • Tendonitis
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Epicondylitis (Tennis/Golfers’ Elbow)
  • Bursitis
  • Carpal/Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Ruptured or Herniated Disc
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

According to the 2018 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, overexertion injuries are the #1 cause of injury (~1/3 of all injuries) and cost the U.S. over $13 billion dollars! Although it is common to think of repetitive motion as a primary cause of injury, this is rare by itself. It is when awkward posture/position and/or forceful exertion is present that is truly concerning. Repetition alone is less likely to create injury. Focus should be on forceful exertion and awkward posture, not on repetition alone. Additional information on these and other risk factors can be found below.

Signs and Symptoms of MSD’s

Although signs and symptoms may seem insignificant at first, they should never be ignored. Reporting early is crucial. Some signs and symptoms of MSD’s are listed below.

  • Fatigue
  • Aches and Pain
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Discomfort
  • Tenderness
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Swelling
  • Body parts “Falling asleep”
  • Loss of strength
  • Loss of joint movement
  • Trouble sleeping due to pain

What Causes MSD’s?

As employees perform regular job duties, they face issues (risk factors) that can increase the risk for injury. As exposure to risk factors increases, the risk for injury also increases. When the requirements/demands of a job exceed the capability of an employee performing the job, fatigue, discomfort, pain, and injury may occur. It is ultimately the exposure to injury risk factors that cause MSD’s (the root cause of MSD injuries).

Reporting, Pain, Discomfort and MSD's

Although the goal initially is prevention, when signs and symptoms of MSD’s are present, employees are encouraged to report these as quickly as possible! Reporting does not necessarily mean that a doctor must be seen. This depends on the nature and severity of pain and discomfort. Each situation varies from person to person. If you are unsure of the next steps and what to do, contact the Workers’ Compensation Team.

To report an injury, file an incident or safety concern, go to the CSU Workers’ Compensation website or contact a member of the Workers’ Comp. Team for additional information or with questions.

File an incident, workers’ compensation claim, safety concern/near miss

To request an ergonomic evaluation, changes to equipment, tools and/or furniture for your office, workstation and/or job tasks, complete an ergonomic evaluation request on the ergonomics website. Appropriate recommendations will be made to reduce exposure to injury risk factors following the evaluation. Contact a member of the Ergonomics Team for additional information or with questions.

Injury Risk Factors (Root Causes of MSD's)

Risk factors are conditions of a job that contribute to the risk of developing an MSD. Exposure does not guarantee injury but increases the likelihood. The 3 primary risk factors are:

  • Force – examples of force include heavy lifting, pushing/pulling, or excessively squeezing a hand tool such as a hammer.
  • Awkward postures – examples of awkward postures include reaching overhead, bending to ground level to lift a box, or looking down at a laptop monitor.
  • Repetition/Duration – examples include repeating similar motions/actions (e.g. force, awkward postures, etc.) over the course of a workday. If the duration these actions are repeated is increased, the more likely an injury such as an MSD will occur.

The goal with MSD’s is PREVENTION! Ergonomics is about preventing injuries, enhancing the health and well-being of employees and increasing performance. By ensuring the job tasks are within the capabilities of employees, that goal can be met.

Secondary risk factors include:
  • Static Posture
  • Contact Stress
  • Cold/heat
  • Vibration
  • Noise
  • Physical Stress
  • Emotional Stress
Personal risk factors for injury include:
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Etc.

Contact CSU Ergonomics
(970) 491-2724