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Musculoskeletal disorders, the leading cause of occupational illnesses: which professions are most affected?

  • March 29, 2024
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It is a scourge that affects many French workers: musculoskeletal problems, also known by the abbreviation “TMS”. Public Health France, which publishes new data on the prevalence of MSDs in France, recalls that it is the leading cause of compensated occupational illnesses. In total, 44,492 cases were recorded in 2019, representing 88% of occupational diseases recognized by the general regime.

Already, in its figures published in April 2023 of the main occupational illnesses most reported, musculoskeletal disorders came first, followed by psychological suffering among French workers. So which professions are most affected by MSDs? We take stock.

Musculoskeletal disorders: what are we talking about?

As explained by Santé Publique France, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) “cover a wide range of conditions of the musculoskeletal system, which can be caused or aggravated by professional activity”. We find in particular the carpal tunnel syndrome on the wrist or low back painnamely pain at the level of lower back.

These disorders appear following a “imbalance between the physical capacities of the body and the demands and constraints to which it is exposed”, writes Health Insurance which specifies that they “most often develop gradually after a long period of intensive use of the affected body parts”.

Musculoskeletal disorders at work: 3 out of 5 women suffer from them

To arrive at these results, Public Health France specialists used data from the 2021 Health Barometer. This information was supplemented by updating the annual monitoring indicators for the syndrome of carpal tunnel and some lumbar disc herniation available on the Public Health France Géodes cartographic observatory.

According to their results, men and women are both affected by this pain, in high proportions. In fact, 58% of women and 51% of men aged 18 to 64 suffer from it. “3 out of 5 women and 1 out of 2 men report pain related to MSDs”, underlines Santé Publique France before adding that “the most frequently reported MSDs are low back pain excluding sciatica in the back and MSDs of the shoulder in the upper limb”.

Construction, health: the professional sectors most affected by musculoskeletal disorders

However, professions are not affected in the same way based on gender. Indeed, among men, the sectors of activity which cause the greatest number of musculoskeletal disorders are those of the manufacturing industry and the construction sector. Among women, the human health and social action sectors are the most represented.

The authors recommend preventive interventions as well as “the adaptation of workstations, the organization of work or even by limiting psychosocial risks”. In addition, it is recommended to “limit a sedentary lifestyle to promote good musculoskeletal health”.

🔍Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the general population, among working people according to socio-professional category and sector of activity.
➡ 3 out of 5 women and 1 out of 2 men report pain related to #TMS in 2021⤵️https://t.co/mpSXZMl3Ih

— SantépubliqueFrance (@SantePubliqueFr) March 28, 2024

Sources :

  • Musculoskeletal disorders in France: where are we? – Public Health France
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) – Health insurance
author avatar
Louis Tardy