The importance of preventing MSD among children and …

Bilbao, 6 July – As mentioned in the article “Youth and safety in the workplace” and in space dedicated to future generations of the European campaign “Healthy and safe workplaces. Let us ease the burden!”, I musculoskeletal disorders (DMS) is also prevalent among those childrenthat teenagers and in between young which becomes part of the active population. Problems that in the latter case then risk getting worse due to work.

That is why the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) points out that the areas of public health, education and health at work must work together to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and the promotion of musculoskeletal health even at a young age. And since many research activities carried out on these disorders have only focused on adults, there is a need for new analyzes and research on children and young people, before and after entering working life.

Based on these considerations, in the context of the current European campaign on musculoskeletal disorders, the European Agency has promoted the publication of some reports / analyzes, and today we are focusing on the document “Musculoskeletal disorders in children and adolescents: prevalence, risk factors, preventive measures (Musculoskeletal disorders in children and adolescents: prevalence, risk factors, preventive measures), edited by Kerstin Schmidt, Paula Friedrichs, Hanna Christina Cornelsen, Paul Schmidt (BioMath GmbH, Rostock – Germany) and Thomas Tischer (Orthopedic Clinic & Polyclinic, University of Rostock – Germany).

The authors examine in particular the effects of various factors that affect muscle and bone disorders in children and adolescents, and focus on how to prevent them and how good muscle and bone health can become an integral part of educational processes.

The article focuses on the following topics:

DMS at a young age: data and the need for a “life course” approach

The document collects one literature review scientific and points out that musculoskeletal disorders begin in childhood, where perhaps inadequate working postures are combined with poor athletic activity: Suffering from musculoskeletal pain in childhood or adolescence increases the risk of suffering from it as an adult. And as already stated in the introduction, the already high prevalence of MSD among children leads to the problem of young workers, who then arrive at the workplace with pre-existing musculoskeletal problems.

The report shows how important it is to take an approach “life course“, a lifelong approach to the study of musculoskeletal conditions and musculoskeletal health. Thanks to this approach, it would be possible to better understand how and why these diseases occur over time and how it can promote musculoskeletal health. And by preventing MSD in children and young people, it will be possible to reduce its prevalence among future workers, regardless of age.

Concerning data it has been shown that the prevalence of AMD (generally the prevalence of the proportion of specific “events” present in a population at any given time) is already quite high in children and adolescents (7 to 26.5 years), with an average of about 30% suffering from musculoskeletal problems. In addition, apprentices and young workers or students (aged 15 to 32) show a slightly higher average incidence of MSD, corresponding to 34%.

Keep in mind that MSD can be caused by acquired, individual, or congenital risk factors, and that most acquired risk factors — physical, psychological, socioeconomic, and environmental — are largely preventable.

Risk and prevention factors in children, adolescents and young workers

The document then reports various risk factors preventable, non-work-related, which may be associated with a higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders in children and teenagers:

  • malnutrition and obesity;
  • very low and very high levels of physical activity, recreational activity or insufficient sleep;
  • smoking and alcohol consumption;
  • incorrect or incorrect working postures caused by prolonged sitting, excessive use of electronic devices, carrying a backpack or playing an instrument;
  • sports injuries;
  • mental problems;
  • social status and meteorological conditions “.

However, there is currently no conclusive evidence, even in relation to the few existing studies on these issues, that supports the link between most of these factors with a higher risk of AMD in children and adolescents.

Let us return to some of them instead risk factorsrelated to the world of work, for i.a. young workers. Risk factors such as physical workload, prolonged unnatural working postures, repeated work, work under pressure, bullying, job insecurity, extreme climatic conditions, …

There is a lack of specific studies of young workers regarding occupations involving high exposure to noise, vibration, heat or cold and physically demanding work factors, such as working in awkward positions, handling heavy loads and working repeatedly.

However, some studies that have looked at specific sectors and occupations – for example, professional musicians and healthcare professionals – have found that young workers are at high risk of developing MSD.

Finally, it should be noted that interventions to prevent or reduce MSD they may include training / education, exercises, manipulative therapies and ergonomic measures.

It is emphasized that training / education is generally effective in increasing knowledge, sensitivity and awareness of the discomfort and pain in the musculoskeletal system in children and adolescents, but the increase in knowledge does not necessarily lead to an improvement in behavior.

Ultimately, in addition to the scientific evidence, it is clear that the presence of MSD among children, adolescents and workers is quite high. And it is therefore urgent promote early musculoskeletal health improvement projects in children and adolescents: an appropriate combination of exercise, physical training and ergonomic measures promises good results in the prevention or lasting reduction of MSD throughout life, including in the workplace.

The index of the EU-OSHA document

In conclusion, we refer to the full reading of the document “Musculoskeletal disorders in children and adolescents: prevalence, risk factors, preventive measures“And we report the index.


Main conclusions

What did we find?

What did we do to find this?

What further research is required?

1 Introduction

1.1 Background

1.2 Purpose of the project

2 Methods

2.1 Definition of the research questions – concepts and key elements

2.2 Systematic search for relevant studies

2.3 Study choices

2.4 Data extraction and processing

2.5 Compilation, summary and reporting of the results

2.5.1 Quantitative analysis of prevalence values

2.5.2 Qualitative compilation of results on risk factors and interventions

3 Results

3.1 Search and selection process

3.2 Incidence of MSD among children and adolescents

3.2.1 MSD prevalence by sex

3.2.2 MSD Prevalence for MSD Location

3.2.3 MSD prevalence per age

3.2.4 MSD prevalence by country

3.2.5 MSD prevalence grouped by year of publication

3.3 Risk factors related to musculoskeletal disorders

3.3.1 MSD risk factors in children and adolescents before entering the labor market

3.3.2 Work-related risk factors in young workers

3.3.3 Sports Injuries

3.4 Preventive measures or intervention strategies

3.4.1 Prevention of MSD in children and adolescents

3.4.2 Prevention of MSD in young workers

3.4.3 Prevention of sports injuries

4 Discussion

4.1 Method for literature search and data processing

4.2 Prevalence assessment

4.3 Evidence for MSD risk factors

4.3.1 MSD risk factors in children and adolescents

4.3.2 Work-related MSD risks in young workers

4.4 Effect of preventive measures or intervention strategies

4.5 Conclusion

5 Examine gaps and recommendations


Appendix 1: Keywords and search strings

The link to the website for the campaign “Healthy and safe working environments. Let’s ease the burden! “


Download the document from which the article was taken:

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, document “Musculoskeletal disorders in children and adolescents: prevalence, risk factors, preventive measures”, edited by Kerstin Schmidt, Paula Friedrichs, Hanna Christina Cornelsen, Paul Schmidt (BioMath GmbH, Rostock – Germany) and Thomas Tischer (Orthopedic Clinic & Polyclinic, University of Rostock – Germany), edition 2021 (PDF format, 2.7 MB).

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