According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a musculoskeletal disorder (also known as MSD) is a disorder of soft tissue, joints, cartilage, blood vessels, or spinal discs. In the workplace, MSD mainly describes injuries or conditions in areas of the body that may be exposed to risk factors (discussed below under MSD Hazards): neck, back, shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand, abdomen (hernia only), knee and ankle.
The term MSD may be used to refer to a number of common medical conditions:
- Back muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal disc degeneration
- Low back pain
- Neck tension syndrome
- Herniated disc
An MSD hazard refers to work-related risk factors that cause symptoms requiring restriction of work duties and/or medical treatment beyond first aid. OSHA recognizes at least 6 work-related risk factors for an MSD: force, contact stress, non-neutral (awkward) positions or posture, vibration, cold temperatures, and repetition. If you experience more than one of these, you have a much higher likelihood of getting an MSD. For a list of symptoms associated with a specific MSD, click on the link to the individual MSD in the above list.
Neck and Back MSD
Most back MSDs are caused by posture and non-neutral positions, and force. Low back strain from lifting heavy items while twisting is an example.
Most neck MSDs are caused by non-neutral positions and posture, such as when you hold your phone between your ear and your shoulder by tilting your head.
- How to Sit With Good Posture
- Do You Have a Crick In Your Neck?
- The 3 Worst Moves For Your Back
- How to Lift Heavy Items Safely
- Do Back Exercises At Your Desk
What Should You do if You get An MSD At Work?
Work-related MSDs that require medical treatment beyond first aid, assignment to a light-duty job, or that cause MSD-related symptoms lasting a week or longer, are called MSD incidents. If you have an MSD incident, you should report it to your employer. Employers are required by law to take your report seriously, and to not seek retribution because you spoke up.
Ergonomics Program. Proposed Rules. Federal Register #64:65768-66078 Standard # 1910. November 23 1999