A3 Musculoskeletal Awareness

Causes of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD's)

Musculoskeletal disorders can occur suddenly or gradually.  Sometimes the damage is sudden, for example when supporting an object that is just too heavy particularly if you are in a poor posture.  But most often the damage is gradual with medium amounts of stress and strain building up over a number of weeks months or even years.


In addition there may well be other reasons why you might be more prone to injury such as: 


Being overweight – the extra weight puts pressure on the spine.

Smoking – this may be due to tissue damage in the back caused by smoking.

Being pregnant – the extra weight of carrying a baby can place additional strain on the back.

Long-term use of medication known to weaken bones – such as corticosteroids.

Stress – stress is thought to cause tension in the muscles which can lead to back or neck pain.


You are about to learn more about the most common physical causes of musculoskeletal disorders, however research shows that they are seldom caused by one single factor - usually it is when a number of different risk factors combine that pain and injury occur. You will learn about other causes at Section A4 (Manual Handling Risk Assessment)