Did you know that 3.2 Million work days were lost due to Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD) in Britain last year? Did you know that using a keyboard is one of the tasks most likely to cause a work related upper limb disorder? Did you know that on average, workers suffering from work related upper limb disorders each took 16 days off work last year? So what exactly are WRULD?
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) has been a term commonly used to describe non-specific arm pain connected with repetitive movements and are often work-related. Other terms used for the disorder have included cumulative trauma disorder, overuse syndrome and chronic occupational pain. The term Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD) is now used instead because there is not necessarily a clear injury or strain involved with these problems and as yet there is no clear pathological mechanism that links all these conditions.
What are the risk factors for WRULD?
There are three main physical risk factors which may result in a WRULD
Force: This is the application of excessive manual force e.g. carrying heavy loads or vibration from a power drill
Frequency and Duration of Movement: This includes rates of movement that are too intense and repetitive e.g. holding your phone between you neck and shoulder, typing, texting on a mobile phone, mouse use without breaks
Static or awkward postures e.g. excessive wrist flexion during typing, incorrect chair height at a computer station, slumped posture
Psychosocial factors e.g. poor coping strategies, stress, perfectionism personality traits, job demands, job complexity, peer pressure, job security and relationships also have an effect on the incidence and prognosis of the conditions. It is also important to consider risk factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, pre-existing health problems and excessive use of few digits during typing. These factors can also be caused by employee leisure activities e.g. playing a string instrument. So it may not be possible to pinpoint the main risk factor for an individual.
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