We are leading specialists in Cumulative Back Injuries.
The term cumulative back injuries or musculoskeletal disorders covers any injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the neck, shoulders and arms (upper limbs), back or hips, knees and ankles and feet (lower limbs). The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued the following guidance;
Upper Limb Disorders
What are Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs)? They are aches, pains, tension and disorders involving any part of the arm from fingers to shoulder or neck including problems with the soft tissues, muscles, tendons and ligaments, along with the circulatory and nerve supply to the limb and are often caused or made worse by work.
The symptoms can include;
- Aches and pains
What causes a ULD?
- Repetitive work
- Uncomfortable working postures
- Sustained or excessive force
- Carrying out a task for a long period of time
- Poor working environment and organisation e.g. temperature, lighting and work pressure, job demands, work breaks or lack of them
- Individual differences and susceptibility
Lower Limb Disorders
What are Lower Limb Disorders (LLDs)? LLDs at work affect the hips, knees and legs and usually happen because of overuse – workers may report lower limb pain, aching and numbness without a specific disease being identified. There are several recognised disease of the lower limb, which can be work related as follows;
Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis – A degenerative condition that affects the joints of the body (e.g. knees, hips and spine) and happens when the cartilage coating at these joints becomes damaged or work away. More common amongst male than female workers and significantly increased risk amongst miners, floor layers and cleaners.
Knee Bursitis – More commonly known as miner’s or housemaid’s knee is caused by repetitive kneeling or knee straining activities. Workers report tenderness and swelling and a reduction in knee movement due to pain and tightening of the skin over the kneecap. Beat knee is an acute and extreme form of bursitis and very common in miner’s due to the amount of kneeling and squatting required in the job.
Meniscal lesions / tear – If the knee is bent or twisted while bearing a load, the force may cause a meniscal lesion or a tear. Overuse trauma for example repetitive squatting or kneeling is the main cause of these injuries and such damage leans toward the injured knee being inclined to degenerative changes typical of osteoarthritis.
Stress fracture / stress reaction injuries – Stress fracture and reaction injuries are the result of repeated micro-injuries to bone, typically found in those who regularly undertake marching or stamping of the feet.
Varicose veins – Varicose veins are any dilated subcutaneous veins of the leg. Employees may complain of feelings of heaviness and pain, a sensation of swelling of the legs, night time calf cramps and restless legs. These symptoms can increase during the day especially after prolonged standing.
Lower Back Pain
Low back pain is common and can be extremely painful and difficult to cope with, however some musculoskeletal disorders are avoidable if you identify the risks prevalent within the work place and ensure you protect your employees from them. Back pain is more common in tasks that involve;
- Lifting heavy or bulky loads
- Carrying loads awkwardly, possibly one handed
- Repetitive tasks, packing of products
- Long distance driving or driving over rough ground, particularly if the seat is not, or cannot be, properly adjusted
- Stooping, bending or crouching (including work at PC’s)
- Pushing, pulling or dragging heavy loads
- Working beyond normal abilities and limits
- Working when physically tired
- Stretching, twisting and reaching
- Prolonged periods in one position
Back pain is not usually due to any serious damage or disease and does usually improve over time. Your employer has a duty of care to risk assess your work place and if you begin to suffer from any form of musculoskeletal disorder you need to report this to your employer immediately.
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