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Work Related Upper Limb Disorders

Work Related Upper Limb Disorders

Work Related Upper Limb Disorders

Work related neck and upper limb disorders (WRULDs) are the most common occupational injury in Europe. WRULDs are a collective term for a range of disorders of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder and neck. They occur when the tendons, muscles, ligaments or nerves are irritated, overused or damaged by repetitive movements. Symptoms can include pain, swelling and difficulty in moving.

  • Tendonitis and Tenosynovitis  
  • Muscle sprains or strains/tension. 
  • Epicondylitis (tennis or golfer's elbow) 
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome 
  • Dupuytren's Contracture 
  • Nerve Pain and Inflammation. 

WRULDs normally develop gradually, the cumulative effect of many small applications of force, repeated over an extended period.


  • Poor work stations. 
  • Doing a task that demands you grip something or apply pressure for a long time. 
  • Doing the same task for a long time without a break. 
  • Poor technique.
  • Doing repetitive movements too fast or with too much force. 
  • Working in a cold, draughty environment. 

  • Improve working positions. Good posture is essential, especially if you are in the same position for long periods. Make sure you change position every 30-40 minutes and try and avoid repetition. You also need to ensure that you are using the all equipment correctly to avoid unnecessary strains. If there is anything that you feel is causing stress on your body you need to report it.
  • Work Station Assessment. 
  • Work environment should not be too cold or draughty. 
  • Work schedule should allow you to take regular breaks. 
  • There should be variety in the tasks you are required to do. 


  • Report the injury to your manager and occupational health team and see if you can have an ergonomics assessment. This assessment can help identify changes to your position and equipment that may help reduce the strain. 
  • Consult a physiotherapist as they will be able to give you advice on what has happened and ways to reduce the symptoms. There is growing evidence that local strengthening exercises and stretches for the specific muscle groups involved in the WRULD complaints are effective in resolving the issue.

28th February, 2018

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