Prevent It

WorkWell's Workplace Injury Prevention Blog

Breaking the Cycle with Early Intervention Video Series #2

Being proactive in a constantly reacting world can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it. During my time as an Occupational Therapist in an outpatient setting, I encountered numerous patients who had undergone carpal tunnel release surgery to alleviate the discomfort, weakness, and pain in their wrists and hands. 

It's important to note that these symptoms didn't appear overnight or as a result of a single incident. Instead, they developed gradually over weeks, months, or even years. While some patients were fortunate enough not to require follow-up therapy after their surgery, I primarily saw those whose problems persisted even after the procedure. These patients not only had to cope with ongoing discomfort and dysfunction, but they also had to contend with scar tissue as their surgical wounds healed. Our treatment approach focused on improving range of motion and strength through various activities and implementing modifications and adaptive techniques to enable these patients to resume their daily routines. Over several weeks, most of these patients experienced improvement, although some did suffer from permanent impairment. Regardless of whether the condition was work-related or not, by this point, all of these patients had missed substantial amounts of work time and faced significant disruptions in their quality of life at home.


I took great satisfaction in assisting these patients and witnessing their progress. However, I also experienced a growing sense of frustration alongside that joy. This frustration stemmed from the realization that so many of these patients could have avoided surgery altogether. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a musculoskeletal condition that can often be prevented with proactive measures. However, this requires taking action early on. Especially in a workplace environment where repetitive motion tasks are common, it is crucial to identify and address risk factors before they lead to injury.

So, let's explore how you can break this cycle. Start by actively engaging with workers from the beginning of their employment journey. Incorporate education on the risks of musculoskeletal issues in new employee orientation programs. This includes providing information on the ergonomics of their workstations, proper posture, and techniques to prevent strain and injury. Equipping employees with this knowledge right from the start empowers them to protect their health proactively.

Additionally, implement ergonomic risk assessments to proactively identify and rectify any issues in the workplace before they result in harm. This involves regularly evaluating workstations, equipment, and workflows to ensure they promote ergonomics and minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Consider providing adjustable chairs and desks, ergonomic keyboards and mice, and proper lighting to create a comfortable and safe work environment. Encourage employees to take breaks and stretch throughout the day to alleviate any tension or strain that may develop.

These are just two examples of practical steps that can pave the way for a healthier workforce. By preventing unnecessary disability, your actions contribute to the overall well-being of your employees. Not only does this result in happier and more productive employees, but it also reduces healthcare costs and absenteeism. Taking a proactive approach to musculoskeletal health benefits individuals and strengthens the organization. So, let's prioritize the well-being of our workers and create a workplace that promotes health and longevity. Together, we can break the cycle of reactive care and foster a culture of prevention and well-being.

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