Understanding Common Workplace Injuries and How Physiotherapy Can Help

Understanding Common Workplace Injuries and How Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapy for workplace injuries

What do house cleaners, dental hygienists, and postal service workers have in common? If you guessed all are careers with high incidents of workplace injuries, you’d be correct! Occupational injuries are common across many occupations, including ones we might not consider particularly dangerous. And no matter where you work, physiotherapy for workplace injuries can help.

In 2020, over 15,000 disabling workplace injuries occurred across Canada. But every one of those injuries is more than a statistic: it happened to a person who now has to work through rehabilitation and find ways to manage the aftermath of their injury.

At MSK Health and Performance Clinics, we regularly work with people who have suffered workplace injuries. Whether they clock in at an office or a construction site, our therapists can help them recover from their injury, restore their strength and mobility, and get them back on the job.

Are you curious about some of the common workplace injuries in Canada? Want to know more about how physiotherapy can help both prevent and resolve them? Keep reading! Or, if you’ve recently suffered a workplace injury of your own, call our Vancouver clinic to receive personalized information.

Stay Aware: Common Workplace Injuries and Risk Factors

Your job dictates the type of workplace injuries most likely to happen to you. A software designer has very different safety concerns than an assembly line worker, but both need to be aware of the risks of their jobs.

People who work in manual jobs are much more likely to suffer major musculoskeletal injuries, especially from slips and falls, which are among the most common workplace injuries in Canada. The risk increases when working at heights or on oily or icy surfaces. Slip and falls can cause the following injuries:

  • Damage to the ligaments or tendons in your joints (such as an ACL tear)
  • A fractured bone
  • Traumatic brain injuries (such as concussions)

Manual workers are also at risk for repetitive stress injuries. A repetitive stress injury is an injury that occurs due to repeated microtrauma rather than a single major trauma (such as a fall). These injuries are usually less dramatic than a broken bone, but they can still cause intense pain, limited mobility, and decreased quality of life.

A typical example of a repetitive stress injury is carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed in the carpal tunnel, a small passage in the wrist, leading to hand and wrist pain, numbness, and tingling. If you think carpal tunnel syndrome only happens to office workers, think again: assembly line workers, hair stylists, and cashiers are all at risk, too. And carpal tunnel syndrome is far from the only repetitive use injury you can sustain at work.

Here are some of the major risk factors for repetitive stress workplace injuries, regardless of the type of work you do:

  • Any repetitive movements (such as typing, working on an assembly line, or using landscaping tools)
  • Using tools with heavy vibrations (such as a jackhammer)
  • Lifting and/or moving heavy objects
  • Operating heavy machinery
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Prolonged standing in one position

How Physiotherapy Can Help Address Workplace Injuries

Physiotherapy for workplace injuries focuses on three main goals:

  • Rehabilitation: Rebuilding the necessary strength, stamina, mobility, and functional skills to get back to work
  • Modifications: Helping you adapt to your current impairments
  • Prevention: Developing strategies to avoid another injury

When you visit us after your injury, our therapists will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to help us better understand your symptoms, limitations, and overall rehabilitation goals, including a recovery timeline. We’ll use this information to develop a personalized program that suits your specific needs, pulling from common physiotherapy techniques:

  • Manual Therapy: We’ll use our hands to manipulate your joints and soft tissue–your muscles, tendons, ligaments, or fascia–to reduce pain, gradually improve your range of motion, and promote blood circulation.
  • Therapeutic Exercise: A customized exercise plan is crucial in helping you fully rehabilitate after a workplace injury. Our exercise programs will vary wildly based on the injury you sustained, your exact symptoms, and your current ability level, but we can help you improve all of these areas:
    • Mobility and range of motion using gentle stretches
    • Overall strength using a progressive resistance training program
    • Job-specific skills using targeted, functional exercises
  • Return-to-Work Schedule: As part of your rehabilitation, we’ll let you know when you can safely return to your job. We’ll develop a detailed schedule that includes which activities you can safely perform and when, plus any suggested modifications.

How Physiotherapy Can Help Prevent Workplace Injuries

Of course, work injury prevention is another important piece of the puzzle! We want to do everything we can to help you avoid sustaining another injury, including providing you with the tools and education necessary to make your workspace as safe as possible.

An important factor in workplace injury prevention is ergonomics. This field of study focuses on making people’s work lives safer and more efficient, no matter where they clock in.

If you’re an office worker, we can show you how to set up your computer workstation to avoid putting strain on your upper extremities (shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands) and give you tips to avoid the pitfalls of prolonged sitting (such as scheduling quick stretch breaks after 30 minutes or so).

If you perform manual labor, we can show you simple warm up exercises that get your body ready to start the day. We’ll also work with you on strategies to reduce some of the risks of your work environment, such as employing proper lifting techniques, utilizing assistive devices (such as lifting belts), and taking regular breaks.

Injured at Work? Request An Appointment Today!

We understand that a severe workplace injury can have a debilitating effect, especially if you’re not in a position to be out of work for an extended period. Physiotherapy for workplace injuries can help you get back on your feet and back to work, making your job safer and your work experience more pleasant.

To learn more about how MSK Health and Performance Clinics helps the workers of Vancouver with both injury prevention and rehabilitation, request an appointment today!

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