Programs | Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) Interventions

Health-related programs to prevent WMSDs1-10

Employee programs refer to activities that include active employee involvement, such as classes, seminars or competitions. Employee programs are frequently provided on-site at the workplace.

Provide lifestyle health promotion programs in the workplace

  • Studies have shown that exercise (i.e., improving overall fitness, strength, and flexibility) can reduce the incidence of low back pain, but the results are moderate and temporary
  • Weight management can lower a person’s risk for osteoarthritis and the pain and disability that accompany arthritis can be decreased through early diagnosis and appropriate management, including self-management activities such as weight management and physical activity
  • Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability for persons with arthritis
  • The health-related program strategies and interventions for physical activity and obesity include lifestyle activities that can be promoted to individuals with arthritis and low back pain

Provide training to management and workers regarding workplace risks for WMSDs

  • Instructional training programs aimed at reducing workplace injuries are frequently promoted as a readily available and an economical approach to the control of workplace injury
  • The CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends training to expand management and worker ability to recognize, evaluate and reduce potential WMSDs risks
  • Training programs can include a focus on general ergonomics awareness (e.g., lifting and lowering, pushing and pulling, carrying, risk factors such as posture and vibration); formal instruction in job analysis for identifying and controlling risk factors for WMSDs; and how to develop a team approach to build consensus and problem solve ergonomics issues in the workplace
  • Training is not intended to have workers or managers diagnose and treat WMSDs, but raise awareness and knowledge of the type of health problems that may be work-related and when to refer employees for medical evaluation
  • The CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Elements of Ergonomic Programs primer contains detailed discussion and examples on developing training programs

Community education programs on arthritis self-management are effective in managing arthritis

  • Self-management education is a key step in improving health outcomes and quality of life for people with arthritis. It focuses on self-care behaviors, such as being physically active, managing pain, goal-setting, communicating with providers, and other skills. It is a collaborative process in which trained instructors help people with arthritis gain the knowledge, problem-solving and coping skills, and the belief in their own capabilities (i.e., self-efficacy) needed to successfully self-manage the disease and its related conditions

1.  Primary Care Interventions to Prevent Low Back Pain in Adults. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. 2004.

2.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Elements of ergonomic programs: a primer based on evaluations of musculoskeletal disorders. 1997. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-117. Available from:

3.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Targeting arthritis: improving quality of Life for more than 46 million Americans, At-A-Glance 2008. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008.

4.  Dunlop DD. Risk factors for functional decline in older adults with arthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2005;52:1274–82.

5.  Shih M, Hootman JM, Kruger J, Helmick CG. Physical Activity in Men and Women with Arthritis: National Health Interview Survey, 2002. Am J Prev Med 2006; 30(5):385–393.

6.  Penninx BW, Messier SP, Rejeski WJ, et al. Physical exercise and the prevention of disability in activities of daily living in older persons with osteoarthritis. Arch Intern Med 2001;161:2309–16.

7.  Westby MD. A health professional’s guide to exercise prescription for people with arthritis: a review of aerobic fitness activities. Arthritis Rheum 2001;45:501–11.

8.  Thomas KS, Muir KR, Doherty M, Jones AC, O’Reilly SC, Bassey EJ. Home-based exercise programme for knee pain and knee osteoarthritis: randomised controlled trial. BMJ 2002;325:752.

9.  Messier SP, Loeser RF, Miller GD, et al. Exercise and dietary weight loss in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis: the Arthritis, Diet, and Activity Promotion Trial. Arthritis Rheum 2004;50:1501–10.

10.  Brady TJ, Kruger J, Helmick CG, Callahan LF, Boutaugh ML. Intervention programs for arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Health Educ Behav 2003;30:44–63.