The elbow is actually two different joints. It raises and lowers the arm (flexion and extension) and also acts as the pivot point for forearm rotation (pronation and supination).
There are numerous vulnerable soft tissues (tendons, nerves, blood vessels) that pass though the elbow to reach the forearm and hand.
Potential MSDs of the Elbow
- lateral and medial epicondylitis
- radial tunnel syndrome
- cubital tunnel syndrome
Elbow injuries can be prevented! There are a number of things we can do to decrease the risk of elbow fatigue and discomfort for team members.
- Follow Ergonomic Design Principles
- Educate and Train Team Members
- Recognize and Report Early Signs of MSDs
1. Ergonomic Design Principles
Ergonomics is the science of fitting the work to the worker, making sure jobs and tasks are within the worker’s capabilities and limitations. It’s part of your company’s commitment to provide a safe workplace.
A systematic ergonomics improvement process reduces injury risk, improves work performance and efficiently builds a better end product.
Ergonomic Design Principles for Elbow Injury Prevention:
- Normal work (medium weights) work surface designed to just below elbow height
- Precision work (light weights) raise surface above elbow height and provide upper extremity weight bearing support when possible
- Heavy work place work surface 6-8” below elbow height
2. Educate and Train Team Members
Poor work practices, a poor health profile and no recognition of early signs and symptoms by team members contribute to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Implement a comprehensive Workplace Athletics process to control risk factors related to individual team members and enhance human performance.
- A good pre-shift stretching program will help increase circulation and elasticity of the muscles and tendons.
- Team members should be educated regarding proper lifting techniques to reduce stress on the elbow.
- Team members should also be trained and motivated to perform specific stretches to counteract tightness and compression in the elbow.
- Team members should be encouraged and motivated to adopt good health habits and keep their body fit for work.
3. Recognize and Report Early Signs of MSDs
At the first signs of excessive fatigue and discomfort, team members should be trained to recognize it and strongly encouraged to report it. When an early report is received, an on-location preventative health care professional should conduct a one-on-one early intervention consultation to identify the root causes and help the team member utilize injury prevention best practices.