Axon Health Associates offer pain management therapies and preventative measures to avoid work-related injuries. Our massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors address ergonomics to relieve pain and improve the quality of life at work.
What Is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics (or human factor) is derived from the Greek word “ergon,” which means work, and “nomos which means laws, so, in essence, it means laws of work or science of work.
It is the applied science of creating a conducive or optimal work environment by designing and arranging things and equipment to fit the job’s requirements and increase productivity while minimizing work discomfort, fatigue, and injuries. Ergonomics processes are geared towards optimizing the safety, performance, comfort, and health of the worker by analyzing the required tasks, examining the worker, and designing an environment that encompasses such things as products, processes, and techniques.
Types of Ergonomics
Types and applications of ergonomics include:
Physical ergonomics deals with the physical load when performing physical activity and potential adverse effects when performing tasks such as sports, working at home, or dealing with products.
It may involve studying and rectifying the detrimental consequences of extreme temperature, force, vibrations, and repetitive movements in your work. These may lead to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), resulting in painful muscles, tendons, and nerves.
Types of physical loads that put you at risk of injury include:
- Heavy work
- Repetitive work
- Static work
- Sedentary work
Cognitive ergonomics is a discipline that focuses on how well the product or equipment matches or relates to your cognitive abilities, such as perception, attention, thinking, decision making, memory, reasoning, and motor response in complex tasks and within a dynamic work environment. This may result to:
- Mental overload
- Social stress load
Organizational ergonomics take into account the structures, processes, and policies of the organization. The goal is to attain a harmonized work system that incorporates the consequences of technology in human relationships. Examples of organizational ergonomics include:
- Design of working times or duration
- Work design and flow
- Quality management
- Crew resource management
- Introduction of new work paradigms
Each type of ergonomics can be applied individually or concurrently to be beneficial in reducing injury.
Types of Ergonomic Injuries
Common ergonomics injuries include:
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that causes pain and weakness in the wrist and hands. It occurs due to overuse or poor mechanics and is experienced as a tingling or numbness sensation in the fingers or hand.
Neck and shoulder pain frequently affects workers who lift heavy objects repeatedly or spend long hours looking up or down, such as a poorly placed computer. This leads to pain in the neck and shoulders.
Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is a common musculoskeletal disorder that typically affects the dominant arm and causes soreness or pain in the outer part of the elbow.
Lower back injuries are common issues in workers, whether standing, sitting, or reclining, primarily because of poor postures that increase strain on the back muscles. Shipping and manufacturing workers are the most vulnerable group to this condition.
Tendinitis is an irritation or inflammation of a tendon that attaches to bones and muscles.
Rotator Cuff is a tear in the rotator cuff which causes pain, weakness, and immobility in the shoulder and is prevalent in people who work with items over their heads like painters and carpenters.
Ergonomics Injury Treatments
Treatment generally involves restriction movement, heat or ice therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, medications, and physical therapy. Surgery is considered the last option when conservative treatments are not working. Alternative treatments such as chiropractic adjustment, massage therapy, and acupuncture can also relieve symptoms and minimize work-related stress.
Treatment for ergonomic conditions or injuries includes:
Carpal tunnel treatment
Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications may assist with mild symptoms. Improving ergonomic support when doing repetitive tasks will also go a long way in resolving the issue. Corticosteroids may be used in severe cases to help reduce inflammation.
Neck and shoulder pain
Ice packs and anti-inflammatory medications will help to reduce swelling and pain. Muscle relaxants, heat therapy, and compressions may be helpful once the inflammation is relieved. Stretching and strengthening the soft tissues will alleviate neck and shoulder pain.
Tennis elbow (Epicondylitis)
Physical therapy and ice therapy are effective in treating this condition. Corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation, and in severe cases, surgery might be necessary to repair epicondylitis damage.
Rest, ice, and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for pain relief and message are the common useful treatments. Severe cases may require physical therapy and corticosteroids.
Rest, ice packs, and compression are effective treatment measures for this condition. Physical therapy exercises like the range of motion, flexibility, and muscle strength will also help.
Lower back pain
Physical therapy and pain medications are recommended to bring relief, and nerve-blocking injections are used to reduce pain.
Ergonomic Risk Factors
Nearly all jobs have ergonomic issues despite the level of strenuous activities. Workplace situations can cause injury, strain, wear and tear to the joints and muscles. Risk factors include:
- Prolonged exertion of hands, especially repetitive and forceful motions
- Office work that requires sitting all day (prolonged sitting)
- Frequent heavy lifting, pulling, carrying, pushing, or bending
- Awkward postures maintained for long periods
- Exposure to cold conditions or extreme temperatures
- Constant vibrations in the whole body
- Insufficient rest beaks
- Work stress
- Direct pressure
- Compression stress
If your work is causing pain, Axon Health Associates can help. Our treatments are customized to meet your unique needs. For more information, contact us today or schedule an appointment online.