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Injuries Caused by Poor Ergonomics



Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Figure 2

Carpal tunnel syndrome

This is a painful condition of the hands and wrists caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs from the shoulder down the arm to the hands.

Symptoms: In addition to pain, the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hands. These symptoms are usually felt in the first three fingers and the base of the thumb. Often the pain and other symptoms are worse at night or during sleep. It can occur in one wrist or both (bilateral carpal tunnel). In advanced cases, carpal tunnel syndrome can make common activities impossible, such as holding a frying pan, folding laundry or lifting an infant. See Figure 2.


Risk factors: The major causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are:

  • working with wrists that are bent; 

  • a high rate of repetition using the hands; 

  • a lack of rest for the hands and wrists; and 

  • forceful hand motions. 

The table below lists common ergonomic injuries of the hands, arms and shoulders.

Common Repetitive Strain Injuries
Repetitive Strain
Symptoms Risk Factors
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome pain, numbness, tingling 
in the hands, weakness
and clumsiness of the hands
repetition, working with 
wrists bent, and/or forceful 
hand movements
Ganglion Cysts
(“Bible Bumps”)
swelling that forms a
lump on the wrist
repetition and working 
with wrists bent
DeQuervain’s Disease pain and inflammation
at the base of the thumb
repetition of a “clothes-
wringing” motion
Raynaud’s Syndrome
“white finger”
loss of control and feeling
in fingers and hands, numbness
or tingling in the fingers
forceful gripping, vibration, 
cold and/or wet
Trigger Finger pain and inflammation
on the palm side of
index finger
forceful gripping of 
edges, repetition
Tendinitis pain and inflammation
in any joint such as
elbow, wrist, knee, etc.
repetition and awkward 
Tennis Elbow
pain and inflammation
in elbow
repetition, rotation of 
forearm, or force
Rotator Cuff/Tendinitis pain and restricted motion
in shoulder, may lead to
repetition, overhead work,
or working with arms 
in a "winging motion"


Lower back problems

Pain in the lower back, or lumbar region, is the most common work-related back problem. Low back pain occurs due to a variety of injuries and illnesses. Muscles and ligaments in the back can be injured and cause pain.

Injuries and illnesses affecting discs and nerves are also very painful. Discs can deteriorate, or a disc can stick out and press on nerves. This condition is called a herniated disc, which is sometimes called a "slipped disc." Problems with the spinal column can also cause pressure on nerves.

Lifting, pulling, pushing, bending and twisting are factors that cause lower back pain. These movements involve the risk factors of force, repetition and harmful posture. Vibration is another condition that can lead to back pain.

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