NHS Blood and Transplant People First

Musculoskeletal Care

Most people at some point have or will experience musculoskeletal pain, often referred to as a ‘twinge’, ‘sprain’, ‘pull’ or ‘putting something (e.g. Back) out’.  These can vary from minor inconvenience to requiring significant time off work, rest and recuperation, and can be extremely painful and debilitating.

Musculoskeletal pain can be caused by overuse and repetitive action which affects 33% of adults. It can result from injury and inflammation of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves. This can be caused by jerking movements, car accidents, falls, fractures, sprains, dislocations, and direct blows to the muscle.  Existing medical conditions can also cause or contribute to musculoskeletal pain. 

Symptoms of Musculoskeletal Disorders include:

  • Recurrent pain
  • Stiff joints
  • Swelling
  • Dull aches

They can affect any major area of your musculoskeletal system, including the following:

  • Neck
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Wrists
  • Feet
  • Hips
  • Legs
  • Knees

In some cases, the symptoms of MSDs interfere with everyday activities like walking or typing. You may develop a limited range of motion or have trouble completing routine tasks.

Your risk of developing MSDs is affected by:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • activity level
  • lifestyle
  • family history

Certain activities can cause wear and tear on your musculoskeletal system, leading to MSDs. These include:

  • sitting in the same position at a computer every day
  • engaging in repetitive motion
  • lifting heavy weights
  • maintaining poor posture

NHSBT has a wide range of Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work, providing ways of working with minimal risk of musculoskeletal injury. In addition, Manual Handling training is provided to all colleagues on a regular basis.  Colleagues are expected to make themselves aware of and adhere to all the safety documents relating to their area of work, and alert their Manager of anything preventing them from doing so.

Methods of Prevention and Rehabilitation


A wide range of Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work are in place, and Colleagues are expected to comply with them, and alert their Manager of anything preventing them from doing so, or any areas of further improvement.

Manual Handling training is provided to all colleagues on a regular basis, either on line or face to face dependent upon job role.

Physiotherapy is available through the Occupational Health service.  For further details go to the physiotherapy page


 Taking care of yourself is an important factor in preventing injury and aiding rehabilitation from musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Regular exercise will help maintain good movement and muscle tone, helping posture. Exercise can also help weight control which will reduce the burden on your musculoskeletal system, and will be beneficial for back or knee pain in particular. Swimming, walking, Pilates and yoga are particularly good. Exercise should be done within your own capabilities and with advice from your GP as necessary.
  • A healthy diet is important to maintain a healthy body. Whatever you eat and drink can affect all aspects of your physical and mental health. Choosing foods that are good for bones and muscles will help. Eating foods containing high amounts of fat and / or sugar will make it harder to control your weight
  • Regular breaks – long periods of sitting or standing will put a strain on your musculoskeletal system. Taking regular breaks from your workstation will enable both your body and your mind to recover and be more productive and alert. Getting up and walking about, or doing some simple stretches and breathing exercises can give relief for stiff muscles ('Making a Difference’ document)
  • Varying muscle groups – similar to taking regular breaks, changing the muscles that you are using regularly will enable recovery when doing repetitive tasks. For example, if your job involves small hand movements and close eye work, changing to a task which involves large arm movements will help prevent repetitive strain injury.
  • Other things that can help – relaxation techniques

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