Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal? Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are the most common health problem in the workplace. Although they can affect any part of the body, the most common are located on the back, neck and upper extremities. Musculoskeletal disorders occur due to physical factors organizational and psychosocial factors.

Although physical or biomechanical factors of back pain are the best described in this blog, you will find all the most important information related to musculoskeletal disorders and musculoskeletal disorder prevention programs.

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal consider

The term musculoskeletal disorder relates to an injury to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, cartilage, bones, or blood vessels of the arms, legs, head, neck, or back that is caused by or aggravated by job tasks such as lifting, pushing or pulling objects. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, swelling, numbness, and tingling.

Lifting activities can create high-risk conditions for back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?
Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

Health problems range from discomfort, aches and pains to more serious medical conditions such as epicondylitis, ganglions, and low back pain, which require requesting sick leave and even receiving medical treatment. The most frequent MSDs in the workplace are indicated below, depending on the anatomical part that is affected.

What are the most common musculoskeletal disorders?

The most common musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the upper extremity are:

Rotator cuff tendonitis

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach to the bones of the shoulder joint, allowing it to move and keeping it stable. Rotator cuff tendinitis refers to irritation of these tendons and inflammation of the bursa (a usually smooth layer) that covers these tendons.

A rotator cuff tear occurs when one of the tendons pulls away from the bone as a result of overuse or injury.


Epicondylitis and Epitrocleitis are two conditions of the Tennis elbow is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in the elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm.

Osteoarticular or angioneurotic diseases caused by mechanical vibrations, forced postures and repetitive movements at work,  due to fatigue and inflammation of the tendon sheaths, peritendinous tissues and muscle and tendon insertions, nerve paralysis due to pressure.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of a musculoskeletal disorder. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) causes tingling, numbness and pain in the hand and fingers.

Neck tension syndrome

Cervical Tension Syndrome is a set of symptoms characterized by pain in the neck, head and shoulders, although tingling sensations may appear in the arms.

Prepatellar bursitis

A bursa (synovial sac) is a thin, slippery, sac-like film. Contains a small amount of liquid. This structure is found between the bones and the soft tissues in and around the joints. The synovial bursa protects and cushions a joint and prevents the parts that make up a joint from rubbing against each other.

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?
Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

The prepatellar synovial bursa is located on top of the patella. It’s just under the skin. If this bursa becomes irritated and inflamed, the condition is called prepatellar bursitis.

Musculoskeletal disorders back pain

Is low back pain a musculoskeletal disorder? Low back pain is the pain located in the lower or lower back, whose origin has to do with the musculoskeletal structure of the spine.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the appearance of this symptom is favoured in actions involving bending movements or the combination of bending with twisting of the trunk, as well as jobs where the actions are repetitive, in vibrating and continuously overloaded environments in static positions.

Approximately 80% of the population has had or will have some low back pain during their lives and up to 70% of young people before the age of 16 have experienced this back pain.

Musculoskeletal disorders and workplace factors

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

Many factors can contribute, by themselves or in combination, to the appearance of MSDs, but the application of physical force can be highlighted such as:

Physical and musculoskeletal disorders biomechanics risk factors include:

  • Handling loads, especially when bending or twisting the body
  • Vibrations, poor lighting or cold working environments
  • Work at a fast pace
  • A sitting or standing position for a long time without changing posture.
  • Lifting, transporting, pulling or pushing loads
  • Repetitive work, such as typing or painting
  • Forced postures and static postures, such as when you remain upright or sitting for a long time or keep your hands above shoulder level
  • The direct pressure on the body of tools and surfaces
  • The vibrations, throughout the body and in the arms and hands
  • Cold working environments, etc.

Organizational and psychosocial risk factors 

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

In addition, in the design of any job it is important to always consider the mental load and psychosocial factors; that is, the adjustment and adequacy between the demands of mental activity necessary for the execution of the work and the performance capabilities of the person.

  • High work demands and low autonomy
  • Lack of breaks or opportunities to change posture at work
  • Working at high speed, also as a consequence of the introduction of new technologies
  • Very long hours or shift work
  • Bullying, harassment and discrimination at work
  • Low job satisfaction.

In general, all psychosocial and organizational factors (especially when combined with physical risks) can lead to stress, fatigue, anxiety or other reactions, which, in turn, increase the risk of MSDs.

Individual risk factors

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

Finally, there are a series of individual factors that also contribute to the generation of MSDs: medical history, physical capacity, age, obesity, and smoking, are some the examples

  • Medical history
  • Physical ability
  • Lifestyle and habits (such as smoking or lack of physical exercise).

Musculoskeletal disorders from poor ergonomics

The risk of most MSDs can be reduced by adapting the workplace to meet the individual needs of workers. This is often known as applying an “ergonomic” approach. Ergonomics deals with the interaction between people, machines and the working environment.

Ergonomics aims to minimize harmful health effects and optimize efficiency by adapting the workplace to suit the individual. This means taking into account both a person’s physical attributes (such as height, shape, muscle strength, etc.) and their mental attributes (processing speed, decision-making capacity, etc.).

Musculoskeletal disorders OSHA

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

OSHA carried out a draft overview of OSH in work-related MSDs. The goal was to study issues related to work-related MSDs, improve our understanding of these disorders, and determine how to effectively prevent them. The also organization review workplace policies and measures to prevent and manage chronic MSDs, including support for a return to work and rehabilitation of working people.

Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?
Is lower back pain muscular or skeletal?

Occupational MSD risks fall within the scope of the OSH Framework Directive, which aims to protect people from work-related risks in general and establishes the company’s responsibility to ensure safety and health in the workplace. Some risks related to MSDs are addressed by specific directives, notably the Manual Handling Directive, the Display Equipment Directive and the Vibration Directive.

The Directive on the use of work equipment addresses the postures adopted when using work equipment and clearly states that companies must take ergonomic principles into account to meet the minimum OSH requirements.

Responsibilities of employer

Risk assessment: taking a comprehensive approach, evaluating and addressing all causes (see above). It is also important to consider working people who are most at risk of MSDs. The priority is to eliminate risks but also to adapt the work to people.

articulate an MSD policy to improve the organization of work and the psychosocial environment in the workplace and thus promote musculoskeletal health.

Preventive actions must also take into account technological advances in equipment and the digitization of work processes, as well as the changes that this entails in the ways of organizing work.

In the MSD management approach, monitoring and health promotion should also be considered, as well as the rehabilitation and integration of people who already suffer from these disorders.

Participation: including workers and their representatives in discussions about possible problems and solutions.

Preventive action plan: After completing the risk assessment, a list of measures should be drawn up, in order of priority, and workers and their representatives involved in its implementation. The action must focus on primary prevention, but also on measures to minimize the severity of any injury. It is important to ensure that all workers receive adequate information, education and training on health and safety at work and that they know how to avoid specific hazards and risks.

Assessment of patients with a musculoskeletal disorder

There is no single method to assess MSDs, as it is the consequence of a work situation. Although the predominant factors that can produce an MSD can be evaluated. In addition to the measures already mentioned in the sections on workload and environmental factors, working with a computer, there are a series of considerations to take into account.

Having a musculoskeletal disorder

MSDs are the cause of many days off work, and aches and pains in our daily lives, but we can avoid Musculoskeletal Disorders in several ways:

  • Avoid staying in the same posture for a long time.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Take advantage of them to do relaxation exercises.
  • Arrange the work material in the way that is most comfortable for you.

If, in addition, you have a healthy diet, and walk every day to try to disconnect from work, you will improve your health.

If you are suffering from permanent disability due to a spinal cord disorder, having lower back pain and the doctor prescribed permanent bed rest, there is no single solution except necessary to follow the easy steps of experts for serious or unusual problems.

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