Feb. 21, 2000 (Washington) -- The meat cutter's shoulder may hurt from
cutting chickens and the autoworker' s back may ache from hanging doors on
Chevrolets, but are those injuries covered under the Occupational Safety and
Health Administrations's new ergonomic rules?
The proposed guidelines define a musculoskeletal disorder as an "injury
or disorder of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and spinal
discs." Signs of an injury include decreased grip strength or range of
motion, or deformity or loss of function.
Hand pain has many causes, including injury and disease. Fortunately, many of those causes can be treated and the symptoms eased.
Here are some of the most common conditions that cause hand pain.
De Quervain's tendinitis. This is also known as de Quervain's tendinosis. It causes pain on the thumb side of the wrist.
The pain may develop gradually or suddenly. It can travel the length of the thumb and up the forearm. If you have de Quervain's tendinitis, movements that can be painful include:
For upper extremity injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, symptoms include
numbness, tingling, pain, burning, and cramping in the arms, fingers, or hands.
To be covered under the OSHA guidelines, an injury must be diagnosed by a
health care professional. It also has to be serious enough to require medical
treatment and to require that the employee spend one or more days away from
work or be assigned to a less strenuous job.
The condition also needs to be directly related to the employee's job. For
example, a warehouse worker's back injury would likely be covered, but his
carpal tunnel syndrome probably would not, unless a lot of his job involves
entering inventory information into a computer. An injury must also involve a
worker's "core" duties: If a poultry processor hurts her back because
she routinely changes the water bottle in the break room, the ergonomics
requirements would not apply.