FAQs > About Ergonomics > What are musculoskeketal disorders (MSDs)?

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Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), also referred to as Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs), and Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) among other terms are a category of injuries characterized by muscle, tendon or nerve damage caused by overuse or misuse. 

These injuries result from either:

• Acute strain
• Cumulative sum of micro strains 

You may not be aware of these injuries as they can occur in the normal course of everyday living:

• while at work
• during exercise
• while doing home/hobby activities

Any combination of the following factors can lead to the overuse of some part of your body:

  • Small, rapid and repetitive  movements or tasks.  Examples are repetitive motion from keying data, knitting, or painting
  • Working in an awkward posture or holding the same position for a long time.  Examples are stretching to reach above or under a machine for maintenance, extending arm to reach mouse
  • Using force to complete tasks. An example is using your palm as a hammer or lever

Our bodies are usually able to repair micro-injuries with time off from activity.  It is important to remember to alternate activities and allow sufficient recovery and healing time.

Back pain, neck pain, hand and wrist pain are most common for work while using your upper extremities.

If you are experiencing discomfort that you feel may be related to a work or home activity it is important to consult with your medical care provider!


Last updated on May 1, 2010 by Ellen Meyer