A range of conditions affecting the soft tissues and nerves of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder and neck.
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Repetitive movements, a single strain/trauma or sustained posture may result in a range of symptoms. These include pain, tingling, pins and needles, swelling, reduced ability to move the affected limb, stiffness and cramp. Though symptoms usually disappear with rest, they can lead to permanent disability particularly in individuals with existing musculoskeletal disorders. This can be classified into Type 1 where there are well defined syndromes or Type 2. Well-defined syndromes are: epicondylitis, bursitis, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis, tendonitis, neck and shoulder tension, ganglion, trigger finger, and vibration white finger. Type 2 is termed non-specific arm pain where there are no specific signs such as swelling or nerve impairment.
The clinical course of non-specific arm pain may be considered in three stages:
Stage 1: During this stage most patients experience aching and weakness during the work activity, but improve during days off work. There are no physical signs and no interference with work. This stage may last several weeks or months.
Stage 2: Symptoms begin more quickly, persist for longer, and interfere with work. Physical signs may be present, and sleep may be disturbed. The stage may last for some months.
Stage 3: Symptoms are present even at rest. Non-occupational activities and sleep are disturbed, and the patient is unable to carry out light duties. This stage may persist for months or years, and the outlook is generally poor.
The most effective prevention especially for the non-specific WRULDs is to reduce or eliminate exposure to the ergonomic hazards associated with the disorder. An ergonomic assessment is advised as well as regular rests, job rotation etc. Contact us now for an ergonomic assessment.
It is generally agreed that early intervention is key. WRULDs with a specific diagnosis should always be treated with physiotherapy before considering any form of surgery. Physiotherapy treatment could include joint or spinal mobilisations, exercises, soft tissue release, advice on posture and aggravating activities and electrotherapy.