What is Occupational Overuse Injury?

What is it?

Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) is a condition of the muscles in the wrist, forearm, arm and neck that is caused by their overuse (or misuse) at work. The muscles of the upper limbs are not designed to hold specific positions for a long time, nor to do the same activity repeatedly.  If these muscles are performing these activities constantly (working against their design), then the muscles release a waste bi-product (acid) as they are forced to produce energy without sufficient oxygen. It is a build up of these bi-product chemicals in specific areas that signal pain, muscle spasm, tenderness and the need to stop the activity causing the muscles to become aggravated.

What may I experience?

  • a general ache or burning pain along your arm, neck or back of shoulder.
  • pain that increases over time
  • pain after a specific action
  • along wrist, elbow Non specific pain, pain goes up and down in severity
  • not always related to a specific activity at that time


What should I do?

It is important with Cumulative Trauma Disorder to examine the activities you do and to look at how you do them.  It may be necessary to make some adjustments to your environment to maximise the mechanical advantage of your muscles. You will also need to help your muscles heal through: rest, massage, stretches and specific endurance strengthening exercises. This investigation into your work and home activities helps us to identify potential aggravating activities.  It is essential to help you learn to manage your condition.  You will be given a home program of exercises.  It is also helpful to improve your overall fitness to get the best results for your muscles.  It is recommended to keep working but to modify how you do certain tasks.

What can I expect?

The severity of this injury is variable and fluctuates.  It will require you to make some changes at work and at home.  You need to take a very proactive approach to getting yourself better  as it will take time and commitment before you see the results.  You can recover from cumulative trauma disorder and we look forward to going on this journey with you.

Correct posture, distances and angles at a desk

Efficient working posture

  • Computer screen 90 degrees with 15 degrees eye movement
  • Good Lighting
  • Chin Retracted
  • Shoulders Relaxed
  • Elbows 90 degrees
  • Wrists relaxed on Keyboard
  • Knees 90 degrees
  • Feet Flat on the floor

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