Laugh Now, Cry Later

If you don’t minimize risk factors that can lead to chronic musculoskeletal pain, you may laugh now; but you will be crying later if you end up wth a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) that could have been prevented.

Ergonomic risk factors that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and pain include:  Repetition, force, awkward postures, static postures, contact stress, motion of body segments (shear), compression and vibrations.

We reviewed medical studies dating back to the 1880’s implicating poor ergonomics in the development of musculoskeletal pain.

Pain that is believed to be caused by poor ergonomics could be caused by some other medical condition.  If you are experiencing pain, the earlier you seek treatment, the better.  Self-diagnosis can prove to be very dangerous.  The information on this web site is not a substitute for professional medical advise and should not be used for self-diagnosis.


Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) which are also known as Repetitive Motion Disorders (RMDs).

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibration, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained or awkward positions.

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are also called repetitive motion disorders (RMDs), overuse syndromes, regional musculoskeletal disorders, repetitive motion injuries, or repetitive strain injuries

“Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a compression of the median nerve in the wrist that may be caused by swelling and irritation of tendons and tendon sheaths.
“Tendinitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon. It develops when the tendon is repeatedly tensed from overuse or unaccustomed use of the hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder.
“Tenosynovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon sheath associated with extreme flexion and extension of the wrist.
“Low Back Disorders – These include pulled or strained muscles, ligaments, tendons, or ruptured disks. They may be caused by cumulative effects of faulty body mechanics, poor posture, and/or improper lifting techniques.
“Synovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a synovial lining (joint lining).
“DeQuervain’s Disease – A type of synovitis that involves the base of the thumb.
“Bursitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of the connective tissue surrounding a joint, usually of the shoulder.
“Epicondylitis – Elbow pain associated with extreme rotation of the forearm and bending of the wrist. The condition is also called tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
“Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – a compression of nerves and blood vessels between the first rib, clavicle (collar bone), and accompanying muscles as they leave the thorax (chest) and enter the shoulder.”
“Cervical Radiculopathy – A compression of the nerve roots in the neck.
“Ulnar Nerve Entrapment – A compression of the ulnar nerve in the wrist.”
PEOSH (1997) further states: “These disorders can also be aggravated by medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, multiple myeloma, thyroid disorders, amyloid disease and pregnancy.”

Can they be Prevented?

“My wrists are starting to hurt.”  


Following is a list of symptoms of MSDs, CTDs, or RMDs, which may involve the back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or fingers:

  • Numbness
  • Decreased Joint Motion
  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Aching
  •  Redness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Clumsiness
  • Cracking or popping of joints


Careful positioning of the body while working with your device can reduce the likelihood of injury.


Ergonomics is important for stenographers
  •  Wrists should be in a neutral position, not flexed or dropped.
  •  Use the least amount of pressure when striking the keys.
  • Feet should rest on the ground or a foot rest to relieve pressure on the lower back.
  • Dangling legs add pressure to the thighs and could cut off blood flow to the legs.
  • The head should face forward in order to put the least demand on the neck and shoulders.
  • The forearm should not be raised too much to avoid neck and shoulder pain.
  •  Support the lower back and rest it by leaning back frequently and by supporting the arms.
  •  Ensure adequate clearance for thighs and feet by keeping areas under the desk clear and by using desks or tables that are high enough as free movement is important for supporting the back and for circulation in the legs
  • Do not stay in one working posture. Shift positions so no muscles are tensed in the same position for too long.
  • Stand up and take breaks from your device at least once every hour.


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