Musculoskeletal Medicine and PainReview Article

Osteopathic model of the development and prevention of occupational musculoskeletal disorders

James William Price, DO, MPH
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: March 23, 2020

Accepted: September 16, 2020

Published: February 19, 2021

  • James William Price, DO, MPH, 

    College of Osteopathic Medicine, Marion University, Indianapolis, IN, USA

J Osteopath Med; 121(3): 287-305

Context: The direct and indirect costs of work-related musculoskeletal disorders are significant. Prevention is the most effective way to control these costs. To do that, we must understand how these disorders develop.

Objectives: To use the five models of osteopathic care to illustrate how cellular processes and neural reflexes interact to create work-related musculoskeletal pathology and to provide evidence-informed musculoskeletal injury and disability prevention recommendations.

Methods: A literature review of electronic databases (Google Scholar, PubMed, OVID, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PEDro, and OSTMED.DR) from inception to October 16, 2019 and hand-search of publication references was performed for systematic reviews, cohort studies, case–control studies, and randomized controlled trials. The search terms reflected topics related to occupational injury and injury prevention, and included supplementary laboratory studies and narrative reviews related to the biological aspects of musculoskeletal injury. The eligible studies contained the following criteria: (1) the population of working age; (2) exposures to known risk factors, musculoskeletal disorders, and psychosocial factors; (3) written in English; (4) full text papers published in peer-reviewed journals; and (5) systematic review, cohort study, case–control study, and randomized controlled trial methodology. Studies were excluded if they included outcomes of productivity and costs only or outcomes that were assessed through qualitative methods only.

Results: The literature search resulted in 1,074 citations; 26 clinical studies and 14 systematic reviews were used in this review. A comprehensive workplace musculoskeletal disorder prevention program should match demands to capacity, correct dysfunctional movement patterns, and limit tissue vulnerability (biomechanical–structural model); restore alpha–gamma balance, tonic-phasic synergistic function, and autonomic balance (neurological model); maximize physiologic reserve (metabolic–energy model) component of a prevention program; optimize respiration and circulation (respiratory–circulatory model); and address cognitive distortions (behavioral–biopsychosocial model).

Conclusions: The presented osteopathic model of the development and prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders suggests that a combination of preventive interventions will be more effective than any single preventive intervention.

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