MSDS or musculoskeletal disorders represent the leading cause of occupational disease in France. They result in pain that is sometimes disabling, leading to incapacity for work. What are MSDs? What are the risk factors? Decryption.
MSDS, what are they?
Musculoskeletal Disorders refer to a large set of abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system with functional discomfort, light or sharp pain, daily or not … MSDs are conditions affecting structures around the joints: muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons, vessels, bursae, joint capsules.
Among the most frequent MSDs are:
- Low back pain: lower back pain
- Neck pain: neck pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome on the wrist
- Shoulder rotator cuff syndrome
- Lateral epicondylitis in the elbow: bony protrusion of the humerus
- Knee hygroma: inflammation of the bursa
The frequency of MSDs increases with age: for example, 34% of workers report suffering from back problems. More than ¾ of pathologies recognized as occupational diseases are Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in France.
Occupational risk factors
Frequently, professional activity influences the onset of musculoskeletal disorders. They result from an imbalance between the body’s capacities and the demands or constraints to which it is subjected.
In the professional field, two types of risk factors exist:
- Biomechanical factors such as hard work, repetitive movements, high cadences, carrying heavy loads, painful positions or prolonged postures, vibrations creating microtrauma, or the use of faulty equipment.
- Psychosocial and organizational factors include insufficient recovery time, poor social support at work, or stressful situations (pressure of result, isolation, decision-making responsibilities).
These disorders often appear gradually after a long period of inappropriate intensive stress on the affected area of the body.
MSDS and osteoarthritis: what’s the difference?
Between musculoskeletal disorders and osteoarthritis, the difference lies in the attack.
Indeed, osteoarthritis is a degenerative process. The most common cause is age. The older we get, the more we wear the articular cartilage, causing pain because the bones start to touch each other without the cartilage as a barrier.
Osteoarthritis in all its forms (knee osteoarthritis, rhizarthrosis for the thumb, hip osteoarthritis, etc.) can appear even with regular use of the body’s capacities.
MSDs affect the soft tissues around the joints. They are not related to age and affect active people in entire labor: from 20 to 50 years.
The treatment of MSDs and osteoarthritis is not the same because the causes and manifestations differ. In the context of MSDs, we will tackle the pain with analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In some cases of MSD, we will use:
- Immobilization employing orthoses to put the joint at rest;
- Massage, physiotherapy, rehabilitation;
- Surgery (in the case of the carpal tunnel, for example);
- Corticosteroid infiltrations: injection of a cortisone derivative into the affected soft tissue.
For osteoarthritis, treatments vary depending on the severity and location of the cartilage damage:
- The quiesced partially with a rod for the lower limbs and wearing a collar or lumbar support for cervical or lumbar type arthroses.
- Taking analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs
- Infiltration with corticosteroids: injecting a cortisone derivative within the painful joint
- The viscosupplementation consists of a treatment of hyaluronic acid injection osteoarthritis in the joint. Its preventive action against aggravation is recognized and used as a primary treatment.
In the context of proven osteoarthritis, medical monitoring will also play a significant role in preventing the aggravation of the disease and deformation of the joints. In fact, in the case of a degenerative disease, its evolution can be fast or slow, mainly depending on the cause when it is identified.