Work-related injuries by definition result from patterns carried out in the exercise of the profession. They can be called repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and/or work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). These injuries are not exclusively the result of repetitive movements; they can occur due to body segments remaining in certain positions for a prolonged period of time, the need for concentration and attention on the part of the worker in order to carry out their activities or the pressure imposed by the organization of work, among others.

Most of these clinical conditions cause limiting pain for those who feel them. Pain in the workplace is detrimental to both the worker and the employer.

Here's a brief explanation of what pain is, according to the World Health Organization.

"Unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or similar to, that associated with actual or potential tissue injury, encompassing the most varied experiences of pain, (...) valid for both acute and chronic pain and applicable to humans and animals."
"Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced to varying degrees by biological, psychological and social factors."
"A person's account of a pain experience should be respected."
"Although pain generally fulfills an adaptive role, it can have adverse effects on social and psychological function and well-being."

It's important to note that RSI/WMSDs have a multifactorial origin, and that the causes go beyond physical overload, as they can include work organization, interpersonal difficulties, ergonomic factors and even the inappropriate use of more specific work tools.

As a result of these injuries, people withdraw from their jobs and often limit their social activities, such as physical exercise or family outings. In addition, they can develop psychopathological conditions such as depression and anxiety, which compromise their quality of life.

The perception of low productivity and the fear of being judged by coworkers contribute to the postponement of seeking treatment and make it difficult to diagnose the disease. To add to the complexity of the cases, the patient's own beliefs and behavior have a marked influence on pain, disability and the outcome of treatment.

According to the National Health System, absenteeism due to illness has risen by 54% compared to 2019, a very significant increase that requires rapid intervention!

And how do we deal with this challenge?

Prevention will always be the best alternative for minimizing or even avoiding illness in the workplace.

Some studies show that the reduction in occupational illness rates is directly related to the employee's physical condition. Therefore, in addition to including a physical activity program for workers, a number of strategies should be adopted, including: safety measures, reducing the workload, adjusting the number of workers, flexible working hours, access to physical and mental health professionals, carrying out an ergonomic analysis of workstations, followed by adapting these places to suit each individual.

In the presence of RSI/WMSD, possible alternatives include pharmacological intervention, physiotherapy or both, in order to avoid conditions that require surgery.

Given how this syndrome (RSI/WMSD) can be acquired, avoided/minimized and how it can be treated, it is of the utmost importance that institutions adopt programs aimed at improving the quality of life of their employees!

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