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What you should know about musculoskeletal conditions

Workplace injuries cost employers money and cause employees to suffer. Fortunately, some injuries can be reduced or eliminated with the use of ergonomics in the workplace.

Americans spend around 2,000 hours a year at work, so workplaces need to be a safe, ergonomic location. The hours spent at computers or on a factory line add up, and those repetitive motions take a toll on your back, arms, neck and eyes.

What are the signs and symptoms of workplace injuries caused by repetitive motions?

While not all repetitive-motion injuries cause long-term pain or injury, sitting incorrectly for long periods of time can cause neck and back strain, headaches and other related illnesses. Repetitive motion injuries can wear away at tendons and ligaments, inflaming joints and causing pain.

The goal of ergonomics is to reduce the limitations of the body by making the joints, bones, tendons and muscles work in the best possible positions. These positions work to reduce the potential for strain by aligning the body properly. When a person isn't working in the right position, it leads to reduced efficiency, a loss of income due to injury, increased medical claims and potentially permanent disability.

Musculoskeletal disorders occur when muscles, tendons and nerves are aggravated by repeated movements in awkward positions or when exposed to high forces, vibrations or exposure to cold. Irritating the nerves can cause inflammation that is painful and restricting; tendons can tear, and joints can become stiff.

Employers need to make sure that employees get enough breaks and have ergonomic work conditions. Without them, more injuries take place, and you may need to apply for workers' compensation.

Source: AIHA, "An Ergonomics Approach to Avoiding Office Workplace Injuries and Illnesses," accessed Dec. 13, 2016

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