Of the three hundred fifty physical therapists, 222 (63%) physical therapists completed/returned the questionnaires. Ten questionnaires were excluded from analysis because participants had less than one year of experience in their current work settings. Thus, only data from 212 participants were used to calculate the prevalence rates. No one question was missing more than 5% of the responses. The time taken to complete the questionnaire was 10 to 15 minutes.
There were more male than female physical therapists who participated in this study (Table ); the mean age was 36.5 ± 9.1 years (range = 22-63 years). Most participants (80%) had lesser than 20 years of clinical experience, mean 14.0 ± 5.3 years (Table ). The majority of participants worked in government hospitals/schools (Table ). Orthopedics was the most common area of specialty (Table ). Seventy-one percent worked 40 hours a week or more (Table ). Twenty-six percent of participants were ranked as physical therapist practitioners, and the majority of participants held entry level degrees (84%) (Table ).
Demographic description of study participants
Prevalence rate of WMSDs
The one-year prevalence of WMSDs among physical therapists in the study was 47.6%. Lower back complaint was the most common WMSDs (Table ). The prevalence of work-related lower back complaints was significantly associated with the participant's gender (p = .005), with more female than male reporting lower back complaints (Table ). Similarly, the prevalence of work-related lower back complaints was significantly associated with participants age (p = .01) and occurred more often in the younger age groups (20-40 years) (Table ). However, the prevalence of lower back WMSDs was not significantly associated with working venue, areas of specialty, working hours, or exercise habits (Table ).
Prevalence and association of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among physical therapists working in Kuwait to demographics, work settings, and exercise habits.
Neck complaint was the second most prevalent WMSDs (Table ). The prevalence of neck WMSDs was significantly associated with gender (p = .0005), occurring more often among the female participants (Table ). However, age, working venues, areas of specialty, working hours, and exercise habits were not significantly associated with the prevalence of neck WMSDs (Table ).
Prevalence of upper back (19%), shoulder (13%), hand/wrist (11%), knee (11%), ankle/foot (6%), elbow (4%), and hip/thigh (3%) complaints followed lower back and neck WMSDs (Table ). The prevalence of the upper back, shoulder, hand/wrist, knee, ankle/foot, elbow, and hip/thigh WMSDs were not significantly associated with participant's gender (except shoulder, p = .001) and age, work venues (except hand/wrist, p = .01), areas of specialty, working hours, or exercise habits (Table ).
Characteristics of WMSDs
The majority of participating physical therapists had one to five episodes of neck, shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, upper back, lower back, hip/thigh, knee, and ankle/foot WMSDs (Table ). The majority of WMSD episodes lasted 1-7 days (except elbow), for a total of fewer than 28 days (Table ). Pain was the most common complaint. This was followed by cramp/spasm and stiffness, and other symptoms varied (Table ). Symptoms developed gradually in most participants (Table ).
Characteristics of WMSDs among physical therapists working in Kuwait
The majority of participants who had neck, shoulder, hand/wrist, upper back, and lower back complaints received physical therapy while those with elbow, knee, and ankle/foot complaints received no treatment (Table ). Participants with neck, shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, and upper back WMSDs were generally seen by a physical therapist (Table ). On the other hand, those with hip/thigh, knee, and ankle/foot WMSDs were usually seen by a specialist (Table ). Participants with lower back complaints were seen by both a physical therapist and a specialist (Table ).
Impact of WMSDs on participants' work
The majority of participating physical therapists made no changes in their work habits, area of practice, nor limited their patient contact as a result of their WMSDs. Most did not take sick leave. However, if sick leave was used, the work days missed ranged from one to seven (Table ).
Impact of WMSDs among physical therapists working in Kuwait.