Work-related musculoskeletal disorders continue to be extremely common and to present an important challenge to clinicians. Debate regarding terminology and case definitions has discouraged practitioners from aggressively approaching the diagnosis and management of these conditions. Considerable progress has, however, been made recently. Previously more commonly referred to as repetitive strain injuries or cumulative trauma disorders, the new term work-related musculoskeletal disorders has fewer etiological implications. These disorders, affecting the back, lower limbs, and especially upper limbs and neck, can be extremely costly if not addressed appropriately. Generally resulting from a combination of physical factors (including repetition, force, and awkward postures) as well as other workplace environmental or organizational factors (including excessive work rates or durations, inadequate breaks, and a variety of psychosocial workplace characteristics), work-related musculoskeletal disorders can often be remediated when these factors are appropriately assessed and addressed. Clinicians must play a positive role in ensuring that this approach prevails.
Professor and Director, Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, Departments of Community Health Sciences and Medicine, Winnipeg, Canada
Correspondence to Dr. Annalee Yassi, Director, Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, University of Manitoba, S112, 750 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0W3 Canada; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org