Physical and biological hazards of the workplace, second edition. Wald PH, Stave GM, eds. New York: Wiley-Interscience, 2002 Jan; :19-49
Ergonomics has been defined as the science of fitting the job to the worker, or the art of matching job demands with worker capabilities. Upper extremity (UE) musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are soft tissue disorders of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, peripheral nerves, joints, cartilage, or supporting blood vessels in the neck, shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, hand, or wrist. Examples of specific disorders include tension neck syndrome, rotator cuff tendinitis, epicondylitis, peritendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). When job demands overwhelm an employee's mental and/or physical capacity, employee health, comfort and productivity can be adversely affected. While comfort and productivity levels are important outcomes to consider, this chapter will focus upon the effect of workplace physical stressors (repetition, force, posture, and vibration) on the musculoskeletal system of the upper extremities. The chapter will not only review the literature, but will also provide practical tools for healthcare providers to (1) assess physical stressors in the workplace, and (2) recognize, treat, and prevent UE MSDs.