Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD)

Last Updated: March 30, 2020

Definition - What does Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) mean?

A cumulative trauma disorder(CTD) is an injury to the musculoskeletal system that result from overuse or repetitive stress on the body. Cumulative trauma disorders in the workplace are often caused by ergonomic hazards such as poor job design or improperly proportioned work areas.

An employee may develop a work-related cumulative trauma disorder if his or her job requires repetitive motions, excessive force or exposure to another ergonomic risk factor. In these situations, continuous wear on the muscles, tendons or other body tissue cause damage. Rotator cuff injuries, carpel tunnel syndrome and tendonitis may all be caused by cumulative traumas in the workplace.

When the body works inefficiently the small stresses and strains that result cause damage to the bones and tissue. These small injuries then cumulate, causing the cumulative trauma disorder to develop. Cumulative trauma disorders are also known as repetitive stress or strain injuries or overuse syndrome.

WorkplaceTesting explains Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD)

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) are a leading cause of workplace injuries. Repetitive stress injuries sideline thousands of workers annually. A CTD can affect the body's bones, tissue, nervous or circulatory system. Distinguishable from accidental injuries, CTDs develop over time as the body suffers repeated exposure to the same damaging factor or factors. While upper body injuries are the most common type of workplace related cumulative trauma disorders, any part of the body may be affected. Ongoing hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises in the workplace is a type of cumulative trauma disorder. Numbness or nerve damage caused by excessive machine vibration is also a CTD.

As the name would imply, a cumulative trauma disorder is the result of multiple traumas to the body. Muscles, connective tissue, nerves, bones or the circulatory system may all suffer cumulative trauma disorders.The types of traumas that cause these injuries may be insignificant individually.

However, collectively over time, these small muscles tears, pinched nerves, and inflammation or other injuries, cause pain and reduce functional capacity. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome is a cumulative trauma disorder caused by exposure to prolonged hand-arm vibrations or repetitive hand movements. Cumulative trauma disorders or repetitive stress injuries are a common type of workplace injury. To reduce the instances of cumulative trauma disorders, employers should implement an ergonomics program to identify and eliminate stressors.

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