A new report on MSDs: the Impact of Health, Illness, Pain and Recovery-Strategy

A new exploratory study is innovative in the field of knowledge related to the
rehabilitation of workers presenting MSDs because it reviews the conceptual
frameworks (originating from three disciplines) relating to representations of
the disease and pain, reports the available validated tools, and identifies the
workers representations, by taking interactions with their environment into

This study published by the Canadian Institut de recherche Robert-Sauv en sant
et en scurit du travail (IRSST) reveals, among other things, the disastrous
consequences for injured workers when they do not feel believed or supported
during their absence from work. Researchers actually observed the importance of
workers' social reality for better understanding their rehabilitation process
by listening to representations of health, illness and pain by workers unable
to return to work due to musculoskeletal-related pain.

Change of perspective

Pain is the central theme of the testimonies of all the workers questioned. It
may be perceived as normal and under control in the context of work, or
abnormal and problematic when it is constantly present and recovery is
difficult. When this pain is considered abnormal, it can disrupt daily life and
trigger an often complicated medical process extending over several months.
Pain acts as a signal or barometer for evaluating changes in their condition
and the extent of their recovery. This description of pain is very important in
determining and implementing rehabilitation strategies.

Head start

For these workers, who are beginning their rehabilitation on the job after
about a year's absence from work, the fact of living with constant pain with no
means to control it alters their identity both as a parent and as a worker
active in society and thereby reduces their self-esteem. This situation is
exacerbated when their pain is called into question. In such case, workers put
their energy into resolving this problem, rather than coming up with concrete
strategies for returning to work. Therefore, those who are supported and
believed get a head start and, during the rehabilitation process, they set
clearer goals oriented toward the resumption of occupational activities. The
implementation of pain management strategies generates positive results. Thus,
once they are successfully back on the job, many workers mention finding
meaning in their experience.

Added value for intervention

The results of this innovative study related to the rehabilitation of workers
suffering from MSD are aimed mainly at occupational health and safety
practitioners and rehabilitation counsellors. The latter will be able to use
this research to establish action plans that are better adapted to the reality
of people living with MSD. Studying and appreciating the testimonies promotes
an in-depth understanding of the emotions, attitudes and behaviours that
influence adaptation strategies for patients on the road to recovery or in

More info - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at work