If you lift heavy boxes all day long every day, you know what will happen – your back will be too stiff for you to stand up straight. And that is if you’re lucky. If you’re not, you will be stuck with a bad back until you get proper treatment, and even then, it might not get better. If that can happen to your back because of strain, consider what can happen to a part of your body that is so much more delicate, like your wrist.
No part of your body can take repeated strain and still function properly. Repetitive Strain Injuries or Cumulative Trauma Disorders, or CTDs, are serious problems facing the work force today.
Cumulative Trauma Disorders affect people from all walks of life, but the people who are the most susceptible to these disorders are those who work in assembly lines, those who work on computers, musicians and people who do hard labour. There are many Cumulative Trauma Disorders that affect these people – Focal Dystonia, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, Radial Tunnel Syndrome and Intersection Syndrome, to name but a few. The most common Cumulative Trauma Syndrome that affects people today, though, is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Whichever CTD you have, there will be warning signs that can help save you a lot of pain and discomfort if you can learn to distinguish them.
- Tingling or numbness
- Pain, especially during the night, maybe bad enough to wake you up in your hand, wrist shoulder, arm or neck
- General weakness, difficulty in gripping things
If you feel that you have any of these symptoms, there is a chance that you might have a CTD, but it will still be its early stages, when it can easily be tackled.
Once you know that you have a CTD, you have to give your arm, in the case of CTS, as much rest as possible. If you can’t give it complete rest, wear a brace and take frequent breaks.
It’s also a known fact that psychological factors contribute towards CTDs. If you are a lot of stress, or if you are not entirely satisfied with your job, for example, your CTD could be aggravated. In fact, there are a few schools of thought that consider stress to be the main cause of CTDs. Excess psychological strain can, at the very least, make you more susceptible to these strain injuries – heavy boxes are not the only kind of load you might be carrying that might be affecting your health and your performance.
A workplace and surroundings designed with the principles of ergonomics in mind – making sure that the environment and the job fit the person who is doing the job, thus ensuring that the person does the job with the maximum effect and with the least harm – is one of the best ways to counter strain injuries of many kind, as well as to prevent strain injuries in the first place.