Spotting the signs: symptoms indicating the onset of an MSD

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) affect millions of people around the world, particularly those engaged in physical labor or repetitive tasks. If you are one of those workers, it’s essential to stay vigilant to the early warning signs of MSDs. Here, we’ll discuss some key symptoms that might signal the onset of these conditions.

What are MSDs?

MSDs refer to a collection of conditions that affect the body’s musculoskeletal system – your muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. They are typically associated with tasks involving repetitive movements, excessive force, or sustained awkward postures. Recognizing the early signs of MSDs can make all the difference in preventing long-term complications. Below are some common symptoms that you should look out for.

Pain and Stiffness

Pain and Stiffness

Pain is often the first warning sign of an MSD. You might experience discomfort or stiffness in your muscles, joints, or ligaments, which can worsen after certain activities or at the end of the day2. Pain can also affect your mobility and dexterity.

Swelling and inflammation


Swelling in the affected area, particularly around the joints, can be another symptom of an MSD. Accompanied by warmth and redness, this could indicate inflammation, a common trait in many MSDs3.

Decreased range of motion

If you notice that you can’t move a joint as freely as you used to, or if certain movements become more difficult, it could be a sign of an underlying MSD4.

Tingling or numbness


Experiencing tingling sensations or numbness in your hands, fingers, arms, or legs may also indicate an MSD. These symptoms often suggest that a nerve is being compressed or damaged5.

Weakness and fatigue

A sudden decrease in your strength, such as difficulty lifting objects you previously handled with ease, could signal an MSD. Likewise, feeling unusually fatigued after performing routine tasks could be a sign of an MSD6.

What to do if you notice symptoms

If you start experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take immediate action.

Report the symptoms

Firstly, report your symptoms to your employer and seek medical attention. Early intervention is critical in managing MSDs effectively7.

Adjust your work habits

Secondly, consider whether you can adjust your work habits to relieve the symptoms. This could mean taking more frequent breaks, adjusting your workstation, or using assistive devices8.

Follow medical advice

Finally, make sure to follow the medical advice given. This could include taking prescribed medications, undergoing physical therapy, or making lifestyle changes9.

Remember, staying vigilant for the early signs of MSDs can be a game-changer in preventing serious health complications. Always listen to your body and take proactive steps if you start to notice any of the symptoms outlined above.