back pain Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) is an umbrella term which covers any injury or disorder of the soft tissues or joints of the body. It covers a variety of structures including ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints. Conditions such as tennis elbow (lateral epicondylalgia), rotator cuff problems of the shoulder and most disorders of the back and neck would be considered musculoskeletal disorders.

MSDs can develop due to unaccustomed activity e.g. back or elbow pain following the first spring weekend in the garden.  They can also develop due to overuse e.g. Achilles pain following a long walk. MSDs are a common cause of loss of function and time off work.

In Spain for example 30% of permanent work disability is due to MSDs (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, 1999). There are many risk factors for developing a work-related MSD. These include: repetitive work, poor posture and manual handling.  Some groups of worker’s that can be more at risk include: dentists, screen-based keyboard operators and farmers.

Ergonomic advice and training has been found to reduce MSDs (Mahmud et al, 2011). See the ergonomics section of our website and speak to your physiotherapist for advice.

The following is a list of some common MSDs.

  • Neck disorders
  • Cervicogenic Headaches
  • Rotator cuff problems
  • Shoulder sprain
  • Lateral Epicondylalgia (tennis elbow)
  • Golfer’s elbow
  • Low back disorders
  • Hamstring strains
  • Knee sprain
  • Plantar fascia pain
  • Ankle sprain