Are you stressed out about back pain and other symptoms? Does a desk job affect your well-being?
Here are some shocking reports for you as companies in India are concerned about work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) affecting employees’ productivity.
Out of the 500 working professionals surveyed, around nine in ten were unaware of the factors that could lead to such serious diseases.
Eight in ten reported having body pain-related issues.
The study also revealed terrible posture, a lack of efficient remote workplaces, inadequate breaks, and improper work furniture are among the crucial factors contributing to WMSDs.
So let’s know more about this and try some natural hacks to tackle this situation.
What are musculoskeletal disorders?
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders, or WMSDs, are a group of painful occupational disorders affecting muscles, tendons, and nerves. The most commonly affected body parts include hands, wrists, elbows, neck, and shoulders, the most frequent being the whole vertebrae. Repetitive activities in an awkward posture might be the reason for these disorders. These work-related musculoskeletal disorders are often called by various names, including repetitive motion injuries, cumulative trauma disorders, repetitive strain injuries, occupational cervicobrachial disorders, Overuse syndrome, etc.
WMSDs primarily arise from repetitive arm and hand movements while typing. These movements are not harmful in daily life but what makes them hazardous is their fixed body positions and continual repetition of moves.
While doing desk jobs, we almost concentrate our body force, particularly on specific body parts like hands or wrists, and there begins the pathology. In addition, heat, cold, and vibration are also contributing factors to WMDs.
The following injuries cause WMSDs:
- Muscle injury.
- Tendon injury.
- Nerve injury.
Symptoms of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders
Pain is the most common symptom of WMSDs. In some cases, stiffness in joints, muscle tightness, redness, and swelling of the affected area may occur. Some workers may also experience “pins and needles,” skin color changes, decreased sweating of the hands, and numbness.
WMSDs may progress from mild to severe.
Early stage: Pain and weakness of the affected limb occur during the job shift but disappear at night and during days off work. There is no reduction in the performance of the work.
Intermediate stage: Pain and tiredness occur early in the job shift and continue at night—the reduced ability for the continuous job.
Late stage: Pain, tiredness, and weakness continue at rest—sleep disorder, inability to do light jobs.
Some people go through all of these stages in different ways.
It may be challenging to say precisely when one stage ends and the next begins. The initial Pain is a sign that the muscles and tendons should rest and recover. However, sometimes an injury can become long-lasting and, sometimes, irreversible. The sooner people recognize symptoms, the quicker they will respond.
Types of work-related Musculoskeletal disorders
WMSDs include various musculoskeletal disorders, primarily affecting the upper limb and vertebrae.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
It occurs due to repetitive wrist motions. The symptoms include Pain, numbness, tingling and burning sensations, wasting of muscles at the base of the thumb, and dry palm.
It occurs due to the repetitive wrist and shoulder motions, sustained hyperextension of arms, and prolonged load on shoulders. The symptoms include weakness, Pain, swelling, burning sensation, or dull ache over the affected area.
Epicondylitis (elbow tendonitis)
It occurs due to repeated rotation of the forearm and bending of the wrist at the same time.
It occurs due to repetitive hand twisting, forceful gripping, and Pain at the base of the thumb.
Thoracic outlet syndrome
It occurs due to prolonged flexion, extending arms above shoulder height, and carrying loads on the shoulder. The symptoms include Pain, numbness, and swelling of the hands.
Tension neck syndrome
It occurs due to prolonged restricted posture, and Pain is the only symptom.
Lumbar and cervical spondylosis
It occurs due to improper postures, ultimately leading to degenerative changes in the lumbar and cervical area, and is the prime cause of back pain and neck pain, respectively.
How to tackle musculoskeletal disorder
Find the source, and it is the workplace. It’s a rule that we need to eliminate the risk factors or hazards at the source itself, which is a fundamental principle of occupational health and safety. To help decrease the number of WMSD cases, firms must evaluate employee behavior and conduct proper training, the report adds. Along with this, consider other factors such as light, heat, and comfort.
Therefore the main task to protect workers from WMSDs should aim at avoiding repetitive work patterns through specialized job designing is necessary for achieving the well-being of the employee, which may include
- Job rotation,
- Job enlargement
How can Ayurveda help you to Manage work-related musculoskeletal disorders?
Restriction of Movement
The first step in treating an occupational disorder is avoiding the causative factors, which is a desk job in many cases. In this context, work needs to be restricted. Splints are often a good option as they mechanically support a joint where an excessive load is anticipated, and they help limit the injured joint’s movement. However, in the occupational context, there may be better options than splints; jobs must be redesigned to support the worker’s health.
Application of Heat or Cold
The application of ice on painful muscles is recommended only immediately after an injury occurs and only for a few days. Heat or cold application usually relieves Pain and swelling, improving blood circulation and draining the accumulated fluid. The use of ice is not recommended in case of muscle spasms and stiffness because cold temperatures will contract the muscle even more.
Heat is recommended for muscle pain relief as it enhances blood circulation, facilitating the elimination of lactic acid buildup. However, it is not recommended for injuries with marked inflammation and swelling.
Stretching exercises are beneficial as it promotes circulation and reduces muscle tension. However, people suffering from WMSDs should consult an expert before exercising.
Eat healthy meals at regular time intervals.
Including anti-inflammatory herbs, such as ginger, cinnamon, pepper, etc., in your diet can be a good choice.
Eat more omega-containing food items such as mackerel, tuna, sardines, etc.; if you are not a fish lover, you can go for chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.
Vitamin B complex also helps in improving musculoskeletal health.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
It is rich in anti-stress, anti-arthritic, muscle relaxant, and adaptogenic properties that help eliminate all physical and mental derangements. It is also a neuro tonic and nourishes the body.
Bala (Sida cordifolia): This acts as a muscle relaxant and strengthens nerves, thereby reducing Pain. Use this along with milk or with other formulations.
Rasna (Pluchia Lanceolata): It is an excellent remedy for musculoskeletal disorders as it reduces pain and inflammation.
Dashmula (Combination of roots of ten plant-based medicines): It is a time-tested remedy for pain relief.
Guggulu (Commiphora Mukul): It is also an anti-inflammatory remedy.
Apart from these medicines, specific panchakarma procedures are used with success as described below:
Nadi Swedana and Sarvanga Swedana (Sudation with medicated vapors): An effective procedure to relieve stiffness and Pain.
Abhyangam (Massage): Procedure performed with various muscle relaxant oil or ghee for muscle relaxation.
Localized vasti (Specialised form of fermentation with the help of medicated oils): Very useful in Pain due to a stiff back, slipped disc, muscle spasm, etc.
Matravasti (Medicated enema): A combination of medicated oil and kwatha (decoction), given through the rectal passage, helpful in relieving back Pain caused by lumbar canal stenosis and sciatica syndrome.
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) primarily affect the productivity of employees. Although these are the most common disorders in most workers, they may not be ignored. Many modern medicines are available for treatment in the form of NSAIDs and Muscle Relaxants, which are readily available and can tend to be misused. Keeping the side effects of these medicines in mind, an Ayurvedic regimen should be tried with proper medical guidance and advice so that ailing individuals may experience maximum benefits.