Thousands of Australians suffer from work related injury each year. Physiotherapy is often required to help workers with musculoskeletal injury to return to work as quickly and safely as possible.
The following points are important to consider:
As with any injury, it is very important to implement appropriate first aid. For musculoskeletal injury use the RICER regime.
Your doctor and physio working together
Early assessment and treatment is very important. It is a good idea to involve both your doctor and your physiotherapist in the management of a musculoskeletal work injury. A thorough assessment will rule out more serious injury. A combination of medical and physiotherapeutic modalities will enhance recovery.
Some of the most common work related problems seen by physiotherapists are overuse injuries. They usually occur in the upper limbs and involve damage to soft tissue such as tendon or muscle. They may also involve nerve irritation. Overuse injury develops when a worker continually overloads his or her body during activities, such as repeated lifting, typing, gripping etc. Overuse can also be related to poor working conditions .
Back and neck pain
Back and neck problems are also common. Poor posture, inadequate muscle control and poor work set-up can contribute. Continual or unexpected lifting can lead to low back injury.
Sprains and strains
Many workers suffer ligament sprains or muscle strains. These can occur when a worker overstretches, twists or overloads a joint or some soft tissue. They are quite common and, if not severe, can be relatively easy to manage.
Work site assessments
Sometimes, an injured worker may need a worksite assessment from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist. This will help identify any factors that may be contributing to ongoing or recurrent injury. If these factors can be corrected, it may lead to better recovery from a work related injury. Simple things, such as correcting desk height and computer position, can make a huge difference.
Return to work
One of the most important aspects of managing work injury is designing a return to work program. This enables you to get back to work as soon as possible, on modified duties, so you don't re-injure yourself. A long period off work needs to be avoided, as it can reduce your fitness for work, and may contribute to chronic injury problems.