What are the Work-related Injuries Among Physiotherapists?

Physiotherapists specialize in helping people suffering from injury, illness, and disability to treat and manage pain and regain physical strength, functional ability, and mobility.  Physiotherapy in burlington, AB, is a branch of medicine that uses non-invasive treatment procedures to improve movement and function and reduce pain and discomfort. Physiotherapists assess, diagnose, treat, and manage several conditions. However, they are also susceptible to some of these conditions at work.

Studies have indicated that a significant percentage of physiotherapists are affected by work-related musculoskeletal disorders in a year. Female physiotherapists suffer a higher prevalence rate of work-related injuries compared to their male counterparts. Okotoks physical therapy employs hands-on techniques, making it physically demanding. A physiotherapist’s workload can take its toll on some body parts, including their hands, lower back, shoulders, neck, elbows, and knees, leading to frequent work-related injuries. This article will explore common work-related injuries among physiotherapists, their causes, prevention, and treatment at Dynamic Physiotherapy.

Common Work-related Injuries Among Physiotherapists

Work-related injuries are disorders that result from injuries sustained while carrying out work duties. They are one of the most common causes of chronic pain and disability among physiotherapists. Common work-related injuries that physiotherapists in Okotoks, AB, may experience include:

Musculoskeletal Injuries

Musculoskeletal injuries affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, peripheral nerves, cartilage, etc. They are often a result of overexertion, poor posture, dislocation, fracture, and other conditions. Musculoskeletal injuries can result in acute and chronic pain, causing a lot of discomfort to an individual. Some of the most common musculoskeletal injuries that affect physiotherapists include:

  • Sprain and strains: A physiotherapist’s work description requires them to repeatedly perform certain activities and movements. These repetitive actions may lead to them spraining or straining their shoulders, wrists, knees, and other body parts.
  • Lower back and neck pain: Long standing hours and patient handling may lead to lower back and neck pain in physiotherapists.

Others include carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tears, tennis elbow, etc.

Overexertion and Overuse Injuries

A physiotherapist’s job is physically demanding; therefore, they may push themselves too hard, leading to fatigue and more injuries. Physiotherapists can also suffer from overuse injuries due to their repetitive use of particular muscles and joints. This overuse may lead to inflammation and severe pain.

Ergonomic Issues

Ergonomic injuries affect the muscles, bones, nerves, and other body parts. Physiotherapists may suffer from ergonomic injuries because of poor postures during work, inadequate equipment, poorly designed workspaces, etc. 

Acute Injuries

Acute injuries are injuries that occur suddenly. Physiotherapists may suffer acute injuries at work while handling patients. For example, a physiotherapist trying to prevent a patient from falling might suffer injuries themselves. Also, improper techniques while lifting and assisting patients may result in work-related injuries for physiotherapists. 

Causes of Work-related Injuries Among Physiotherapists

The following are the most common causes of work-related injuries among physiotherapists:

Biomechanical Demands

Physiotherapy, as a healthcare profession, is physically tasking. The job’s nature is one of the major causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in physiotherapists. Biomechanical demands that may lead to work-related injuries among physiotherapists include:

  • Heavy Lifting: Physiotherapy may require physiotherapists to do some heavy lifting. Some tasks requiring a physiotherapist to do some heavy lifting include assisting patients with transfers, responding to unexpected movements, lifting patients, doing mobility exercises, using equipment, etc. If a physiotherapist overexerts themselves or uses an improper technique while carrying out any of these tasks, they may develop muscle tears, back pain, knee injury, etc. 
  • Repetitive strain: Physiotherapists may have to perform the same technique for different patients for extended periods. This repetitive action may strain their muscles, tendons, and nerves. 

Psychosocial Factors

Physical factors alone do not cause work-related injuries among physiotherapists. Some psychological and social factors also play their part in the development of work-related injuries. These factors include:

  • Emotional stress: This kind of stress causes an intense and negative response. A physiotherapist’s workload, tight deadlines, patient volume, and other experiences can cause emotional stress and lead to burnout, increasing susceptibility to work-related injury. 
  • Job insecurity: If a physiotherapist always has to worry about their job, they are bound to make mistakes that may lead to a work-related injury. 

Other psychosocial factors that lead to work-related injuries include low social support, long hours, compassion fatigue, verbal abuse at work, harassment, etc.

Organizational Factors

The workplace environment setting is another cause of work-related injuries. Organizational factors that may cause work-related injury to a physiotherapist include inadequate staffing, poor training, poorly designed workspaces, lack of ergonomic equipment, etc.

Individual Factors

A physiotherapist may also be responsible for their work-related injury. Some individual factors that may cause a physiotherapist to have a work-related injury include smoking, obesity, failure to rest, improper techniques, neglect of assistive devices, lack of fitness, existing conditions, neglect of personal protective equipment, etc.

Impact of Work-related Injuries Among Physiotherapists

Work-related injuries may severely affect a physiotherapist’s physical and mental health. It may also have an indirect effect on patients and the healthcare system. Some of the consequences of work-related injuries among physiotherapists include chronic pain, depression, reduced mobility and physical well-being, secondary complications, stress, anxiety, decreased productivity, reduced job satisfaction, etc. 

Prevention of Work-related Injuries Among Physiotherapists

The following interventions can help prevent work-related injuries among physiotherapists:

  • Regular training and education on the proper use of equipment
  • Workload management
  • Adequate and proper staffing
  • Provision of ergonomic equipment
  • Healthy work culture
  • Safe work practices
  • Mental health support
  • Frequent exercises
  • Adequate rest 
  • Use of protective gear
  • Regular observation of safety measures.

Although prevention is always better than cure, injury rehabilitation in Okotoks can help to treat and manage a physiotherapist’s work-related injury.


Physiotherapists try to help people manage pain and restore mobility, functional ability, and overall independence. However, they may become victims of the musculoskeletal injuries they treat in the line of duty. Work-related injuries may cause severe physical and mental damage to physiotherapists. If you have suffered work-related injuries, you should consider injury rehabilitation at Dynamic Physiotherapy.