Musculoskeletal disease general explanation
The causes, prevention and costs of musculoskeletal disorders
During professional practice, excessive physical strain, such as heavy lifting and carrying, causes complaints of the musculoskeletal system. Here the causes, prevention and costs of musculoskeletal disorders are shown.
Diseases of the musculoskeletal system, the so-called support and movement system, belong to the group of musculoskeletal disorders. In a musculoskeletal disease, all regions can be affected, such as ligaments, blood vessels, cartilage, tendons, bones, etc. This collective term also includes all types of health restrictions, ranging from minor and temporary complaints to severe chronic, irreversible impairments.
Causes and long-term damage of musculoskeletal disorders
Physical stress as a trigger for musculoskeletal disease
In the working world and in private life there are many reasons for incapacity to work. A job-related musculoskeletal disease occurs mainly due to physical strain at the workplace. Lifting and carrying heavy loads is considered a typical process, which leads to an incorrect loading of the musculoskeletal system.
Disease patterns caused by degenerative diseases of the back or arthrosis of the knee joint generally lead to a limitation of motor functions such as strength, coordination and mobility. With these limitations, physical strain at work, such as lifting and carrying loads, cannot be fulfilled or can only be fulfilled to a limited extent. The term “work-related musculoskeletal disorders” includes disorders and complaints of the musculoskeletal system or the musculoskeletal support system that occur in connection with occupational activity and as a result of physical stress.
Possibilities for action in the context of work-related health management
The possibilities of preventing a musculoskeletal disorder, due to a physical strain, are manifold. Consultation and training are as much a part of this as workplace-related measures.
Prevention possibilities for musculoskeletal disorders:
- work-related musculoskeletal disorders (directly caused by work)
- Musculoskeletal diseases caused by the work
- Employees who – regardless of the cause – perform their work with a musculoskeletal disorder
Primary, secondary and tertiary preventive approaches are available in addition to behavioral and relationship-preventive concepts that can be used in the context of work-related health management.
Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders
Derivation of job-related, operational and employment-related measures
Health-conscious design of the work situation – ergonomics, carry out a comprehensive risk analysis to identify and evaluate the stress (physical strain) on the musculoskeletal system, including the derivation of workplace, operational and employment-related measures. Targeted consultations, education, instruction and training of employees in working conditions under which musculoskeletal stress and eventually musculoskeletal disease can occur.
Personal support for employees with a focus on the musculoskeletal system and for early detection of individual risk factors such as unhealthy nutrition and physical activity, for example in the context of occupational health care; application of (occupational) reintegration measures.
- Tailor-made individual offers for the promotion of health, such as training programs (including concepts for health education)
- Company integration programs; employment concepts for older and chronically ill people
- Design and development of participative social relationships in the company; employee management
Regardless of the integration and rehabilitation measures Employees with musculoskeletal disorders are often not able to return to their previous workplace.
In addition, for employees with musculoskeletal disorders, the focus is on medical reintegration and occupational integration after a long period of illness. However, about 2000 recognized work-related illnesses and now regularly more than ten percent early retirement due to musculoskeletal disorders point out the limits of these measures every year. If occupational reintegration is not possible at all or only to a limited extent, the compensation procedure comes to the fore.
Physical stress: failure of (re)integration and compensation in musculoskeletal disorder
There is many significant and already known causal relationships between an operational (physical) load and the resulting possible diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
On the basis of the BKV or the list of occupational diseases, an employer has the opportunity to identify the exposures where initiatives to prevent musculoskeletal disorders are particularly appropriate.
Physical strain: Diseases to recognised occupational diseases
The Medical Expert Council “Occupational Diseases” is responsible for the entry of diseases in the catalog of occupational diseases. The Medical Advisory Board is an advisory body that works independently of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and advises it in its decision-making in medical and scientific matters. In this context, the Advisory Board examines and evaluates the state of scientific knowledge on the one hand in connection with the adaptation of existing occupational diseases and on the other hand with the aim of integrating new occupational diseases into the Ordinance on Occupational Diseases. On the basis of the available research results, the Advisory Board submits appropriate proposals for action and positions to the Ministry following the investigation.
Diseases of the musculoskeletal system
Investigation of the relationship between the illness and the workload
Other types of diseases of the musculoskeletal system, caused by high physical strain, are currently included in the so-called “consultation status” by the medical advisory board. This is a first, preliminary examination in connection with the preparation of a new scientific opinion regarding a new occupational disease. With regard to two occupational diseases, an appropriate scientific finding for a causal relationship between a possibly impairing consequence and the occurrence of these diseases could thus be obtained.
Meanwhile, the ÄSVB examines the general applicability, i.e. the existence of medical-scientific knowledge about the principle causal relationship between possible adverse consequences and the occurrence of the disease, for their general suitability. The musculoskeletal disorders currently undergoing the consultation phase are osteoarthritis of the hip joint due to lifting and carrying heavy loads and musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulder due to work above the shoulder.
After determining the general suitability, the occurrence of a so-called “group-typical risk increase” is then determined. This involves examining to what extent a person who is exposed to the harmful effects on health in his or her insured activity has a significantly increased risk of illness compared to the general population.
Determination of physical loads using Motion-Mining®
Ergonomics analyses to uncover potential for improvement
Ergonomics analyses in the course of the MotionMining solution approach reveal hidden optimization potentials. The solution approach allows an evaluation of manual work using wearables (portable sensors, similar to fitness trackers) and a depth learning algorithm, better known as artificial intelligence. Work processes are automatically and anonymously recorded, processed by artificial intelligence and converted into human-readable key figures. Currently, we distinguish between more than 60 different movement sequences in our ergonomics analyses. Critical movements such as bending over from the back, carrying, lifting, holding, and overhead activities are considered in the ergonomics analysis. These movements are recorded in movement intervals during the ergonomics analysis. In addition to typical movements, vibrations and repetitions in particular can be detected. Based on the data from the ergonomics analysis, overloading and permanent stress can be detected and measures for prevention can be derived.