To summarize systematic reviews that 1) assessed the evidence for causal relationships between computer work and the occurrence of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) or upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UEMSDs), or 2) reported on intervention studies among computer users/or office workers.
PubMed, Embase, CINAHL and Web of Science were searched for reviews published between 1999 and 2010. Additional publications were provided by content area experts. The primary author extracted all data using a purpose-built form, while two of the authors evaluated the quality of the reviews using recommended standard criteria from AMSTAR; disagreements were resolved by discussion. The quality of evidence syntheses in the included reviews was assessed qualitatively for each outcome and for the interventions.
Altogether, 1,349 review titles were identified, 47 reviews were retrieved for full text relevance assessment, and 17 reviews were finally included as being relevant and of sufficient quality. The degrees of focus and rigorousness of these 17 reviews were highly variable. Three reviews on risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome were rated moderate to high quality, 8 reviews on risk factors for UEMSDs ranged from low to moderate/high quality, and 6 reviews on intervention studies were of moderate to high quality. The quality of the evidence for computer use as a risk factor for CTS was insufficient, while the evidence for computer use and UEMSDs was moderate regarding pain complaints and limited for specific musculoskeletal disorders. From the reviews on intervention studies no strong evidence based recommendations could be given.
Computer use is associated with pain complaints, but it is still not very clear if this association is causal. The evidence for specific disorders or diseases is limited. No effective interventions have yet been documented.
Computer users often report musculoskeletal complaints and pain in the upper extremities and the neck-shoulder region. However, recent epidemiological studies do not report a relationship between the extent of computer use and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD).
The aim of this study was to conduct an explorative analysis on short and long-term pain complaints and work-related variables in a cohort of Danish computer users.
A structured web-based questionnaire including questions related to musculoskeletal pain, anthropometrics, work-related variables, work ability, productivity, health-related parameters, lifestyle variables as well as physical activity during leisure time was designed. Six hundred and ninety office workers completed the questionnaire responding to an announcement posted in a union magazine. The questionnaire outcomes, i.e., pain intensity, duration and locations as well as anthropometrics, work-related variables, work ability, productivity, and level of physical activity, were stratified by gender and correlations were obtained.
Women reported higher pain intensity, longer pain duration as well as more locations with pain than men (P < 0.05). In parallel, women scored poorer work ability and ability to fulfil the requirements on productivity than men (P < 0.05). Strong positive correlations were found between pain intensity and pain duration for the forearm, elbow, neck and shoulder (P < 0.001). Moderate negative correlations were seen between pain intensity and work ability/productivity (P < 0.001).
The present results provide new key information on pain characteristics in office workers. The differences in pain characteristics, i.e., higher intensity, longer duration and more pain locations as well as poorer work ability reported by women workers relate to their higher risk of contracting WMSD. Overall, this investigation confirmed the complex interplay between anthropometrics, work ability, productivity, and pain perception among computer users.
Computer use; Musculoskeletal complaints; Arm-shoulder pain; Gender; Sex
Force may be a risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremity associated with typing and keying. However, the internal finger flexor tendon forces and their relationship to fingertip forces during rapid tapping on a keyswitch have not yet been measured in vivo. During the open carpal tunnel release surgery of five human subjects, a tendon-force transducer was inserted on the flexor digitorum super-ficialis of the long finger. During surgery, subjects tapped with the long finger on a computer keyswitch, instrumented with a keycap load cell. The average tendon maximum forces during a keystroke ranged from 8.3 to 16.6 N (mean = 12.9 N, SD = 3.3 N) for the subjects, four to seven times larger than the maximum forces observed at the fingertip. Tendon forces estimated from an isometric tendon-force model were only one to two times larger than tip force, significantly less than the observed tendon forces (p = 0.001). The force histories of the tendon during a keystroke were not proportional to fingertip force. First, the tendon-force histories did not contain the high-frequency fingertip force components observed as the tip impacts with the end of key travel. Instead, tendon tension during a keystroke continued to increase throughout the impact. Second, following the maximum keycap force, tendon tension during a keystroke decreased more slowly than fingertip force, remaining elevated approximately twice as long as the fingertip force. The prolonged elevation of tendon forces may be the result of residual eccentric muscle contraction or passive muscle forces, or both, which are additive to increasing extensor activity during the release phase of the keystroke.
To examine the validity and potential biases in self‐reports of computer, mouse and keyboard usage times, compared with objective recordings.
A study population of 1211 people was asked in a questionnaire to estimate the average time they had worked with computer, mouse and keyboard during the past four working weeks. During the same period, a software program recorded these activities objectively. The study was part of a one‐year follow‐up study from 2000–1 of musculoskeletal outcomes among Danish computer workers.
Self‐reports on computer, mouse and keyboard usage times were positively associated with objectively measured activity, but the validity was low. Self‐reports explained only between a quarter and a third of the variance of objectively measured activity, and were even lower for one measure (keyboard time). Self‐reports overestimated usage times. Overestimation was large at low levels and declined with increasing levels of objectively measured activity. Mouse usage time proportion was an exception with a near 1:1 relation. Variability in objectively measured activity, arm pain, gender and age influenced self‐reports in a systematic way, but the effects were modest and sometimes in different directions.
Self‐reported durations of computer activities are positively associated with objective measures but they are quite inaccurate. Studies using self‐reports to establish relations between computer work times and musculoskeletal pain could be biased and lead to falsely increased or decreased risk estimates.
This review examines evidence for an association between computer work and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
A systematic review of studies of computer work and CTS was performed. Supplementary, longitudinal studies of low force, repetitive work and CTS, and studies of possible pathophysiological mechanisms were evaluated.
Eight epidemiological studies of the association between computer work and CTS were identified. All eight studies had one or more limitation including imprecise exposure and outcome assessment, low statistical power or potentially serious biases. In three of the studies an exposure-response association was observed but because of possible misclassification no firm conclusions could be drawn. Three of the studies found risks below 1. Also longitudinal studies of repetitive low-force non-computer work (n = 3) were reviewed but these studies did not add evidence to an association. Measurements of carpal tunnel pressure (CTP) under conditions typically observed among computer users showed pressure values below levels considered harmful. However, during actual mouse use one study showed an increase of CTP to potentially harmful levels. The long term effects of prolonged or repeatedly increased pressures at these levels are not known, however.
There is insufficient epidemiological evidence that computer work causes CTS.
Worldwide, millions of office workers use a computer. Reports of adverse health effects due to computer use have received considerable media attention. This systematic review summarises the evidence for a relationship between the duration of work time spent using the computer and the incidence of hand–arm and neck–shoulder symptoms and disorders. Several databases were systematically searched up to 6 November 2005. Two reviewers independently selected articles that presented a risk estimate for the duration of computer use, included an outcome measure related to hand–arm or neck–shoulder symptoms or disorders, and had a longitudinal study design. The strength of the evidence was based on methodological quality and consistency of the results. Nine relevant articles were identified, of which six were rated as high quality. Moderate evidence was concluded for a positive association between the duration of mouse use and hand–arm symptoms. For this association, indications for a dose–response relationship were found. Risk estimates were in general stronger for the hand–arm region than for the neck–shoulder region, and stronger for mouse use than for total computer use and keyboard use. A pathophysiological model focusing on the overuse of muscles during computer use supports these differences. Future studies are needed to improve our understanding of safe levels of computer use by measuring the duration of computer use in a more objective way, differentiating between total computer use, mouse use and keyboard use, attaining sufficient exposure contrast, and collecting data on disability caused by symptoms.
Over years it has been increasingly concerned with how upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UEMSDs) are attributed to psychosocial job stressors. A review study was conducted to examine associations between UEMSDs and psychosocial work factors, and to recommend what to consider for the associations. For studies in which the job demand-control-support (DCS) model or its variables were specifically employed, published papers were selected and reviewed. A number of studies have reported relationships between UEMSDs symptoms and psychosocial exposure variables. For example, the findings are: higher numbness in the upper extremity was significantly attributed to by less decision latitude at work; work demands were significantly associated with neck and shoulder symptoms while control over time was associated with neck symptoms; and the combination of high psychosocial demands and low decision latitude was a significant predictor for shoulder and neck pain in a female working population. Sources of bias, such as interaction or study design, were discussed. UEMSDs were shown to be associated with psychosocial work factors in various studies where the job DCS model was addressed. Nonetheless, this review suggests that further studies should be conducted to much more clarify the association between UEMSDs and psychosocial factors.
Upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders; Psychosocial work factors; Job DCS model
There is increasing attention to medical problems of musicians. Many studies find a high prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in musicians, ranging from 73.4% to 87.7%, and string players have the highest prevalence of musculoskeletal problems. This paper examines the various positions and movements of the upper extremities in string players: 1) basic postures for holding instruments, 2) movements of left upper extremity: fingering, forearm posture, high position and vibrato, 3) movements of right upper extremity: bowing, bow angles, pizzicato and other bowing techniques. These isotonic and isometric movements can lead to musculoskeletal problems in musicians. We reviewed orthopedic disorders that are specific to string players: overuse syndrome, muscle-tendon syndrome, focal dystonia, hypermobility syndrome, and compressive neuropathy. Symptoms, interrelationships with musical performances, diagnosis and treatment of these problems were then discussed.
Upper extremities; String players; Musculoskeletal problems
Call centre work with computers is associated with increased rates of upper body pain and musculoskeletal disorders.
This one year, randomised controlled intervention trial evaluated the effects of a wide forearm support surface and a trackball on upper body pain severity and incident musculoskeletal disorders among 182 call centre operators at a large healthcare company. Participants were randomised to receive (1) ergonomics training only, (2) training plus a trackball, (3) training plus a forearm support, or (4) training plus a trackball and forearm support. Outcome measures were weekly pain severity scores and diagnosis of incident musculoskeletal disorder in the upper extremities or the neck/shoulder region based on physical examination performed by a physician blinded to intervention. Analyses using Cox proportional hazard models and linear regression models adjusted for demographic factors, baseline pain levels, and psychosocial job factors.
Post‐intervention, 63 participants were diagnosed with one or more incident musculoskeletal disorders. Hazard rate ratios showed a protective effect of the armboard for neck/shoulder disorders (HR = 0.49, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.97) after adjusting for baseline pain levels and demographic and psychosocial factors. The armboard also significantly reduced neck/shoulder pain (p = 0.01) and right upper extremity pain (p = 0.002) in comparison to the control group. A return‐on‐investment model predicted a full return of armboard and installation costs within 10.6 months.
Providing a large forearm support combined with ergonomic training is an effective intervention to prevent upper body musculoskeletal disorders and reduce upper body pain associated with computer work among call centre employees.
musculoskeletal; computer; upper extremity; intervention; RCT
Contradictory reports have been published regarding the association of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and the use of computer keyboard. Previous studies did not take into account the cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes among computer workers. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between cumulative keyboard use (keyboard strokes) and CTS.
Employees (461) from a Governmental data entry & processing unit agreed to participate (response rate: 84.1 %) in a cross-sectional study. Α questionnaire was distributed to the participants to obtain information on socio-demographics and risk factors for CTS. The participants were examined for signs and symptoms related to CTS and were asked if they had previous history or surgery for CTS. The cumulative amount of the keyboard strokes per worker per year was calculated by the use of payroll’s registry. Two case definitions for CTS were used. The first included subjects with personal history/surgery for CTS while the second included subjects that belonged to the first case definition plus those participants were identified through clinical examination.
Multivariate analysis used for both case definitions, indicated that those employees with high cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes were at increased risk of CTS (case definition A: OR = 2.23;95 % CI = 1.09-4.52 and case definition B: OR = 2.41; 95%CI = 1.36-4.25). A dose response pattern between cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes and CTS has been revealed (p < 0.001).
The present study indicated a possible association between cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes and development of CTS. Cumulative exposure to key-board strokes would be taken into account as an exposure indicator regarding exposure assessment of computer workers. Further research is needed in order to test the results of the current study and assess causality between cumulative keyboard strokes and development of CT.
To investigate the reasons for the excess risk of upper limb musculoskeletal disorders among manual workers compared with other workers in a random sample of 2656 French men and women (20–59 years old) participating in a study on the prevalence of work related upper limb disorders conducted by France's National Institute of Health Surveillance.
Prevalence ratios (PR) of physician‐diagnosed musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand (any of six leading disorders, rotator cuff syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome) in manual versus non‐manual workers were calculated using Cox regression models with a constant time of follow up and robust variance.
11.3% of men and 15.1% of women were diagnosed with an upper limb disorder. The risk was especially high in manual workers (PRs: 1.40 to 2.10). Physical work factors accounted for over 50% of occupational disparities overall, 62% (men) to 67% (women) for rotator cuff syndrome, and 96% (women) for carpal tunnel syndrome. The authors calculated that under lower levels of physical work exposures, up to 31% of cases among manual workers could have been prevented.
In working men and women, upper limb musculoskeletal disorders are frequent. Physical work exposures, such as repetitive and forceful movements, are an important source of risk and in particular account for a large proportion of excess morbidity among manual workers.
biomechanical exposures; manual worker; musculoskeletal diseases; occupational exposures; upper extremity
We investigated occupational disparities in the risk of upper limb musculoskeletal disorders in a random sample of 2 656 French workers (age 20–59) participating in a study on the prevalence of work-related upper limb disorders, launched by the National Institute of Health Surveillance. Prevalence ratios (PR) of physician-diagnosed musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand (any of six leading disorders, rotator cuff syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome) in manual vs. non-manual workers were calculated using Cox regression models with a constant time of follow-up and robust variance. 11% of men and 15% of women were diagnosed with an upper limb disorder. The risk was especially high in manual workers (PRs: 1.44 to 2.10). Physical work factors accounted for over 50% of occupational disparities overall, 62 (men) to 67% (women) for rotator cuff syndrome, and 96% (women) for carpal tunnel syndrome. We calculated that under lower levels of physical work exposures, up to 31% of cases among manual workers could have prevented. In working men and women, upper limb musculoskeletal disorders are frequent. Physical work exposures, such as repetitive and forceful movements, are an important source of risk, particularly among manual workers.
Adult; Cross-Sectional Studies; Female; France; epidemiology; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Musculoskeletal Diseases; epidemiology; etiology; Occupational Diseases; epidemiology; etiology; Prevalence; Regression Analysis; Risk Factors; Upper Extremity
Musculoskeletal disorders are commonly reported among computer users. This study explored whether these disorders can be reduced by the provision of ergonomics education.
A cluster randomised controlled trial was conducted in which 3 units were randomised for intervention and received training, and 3 units were given a leaflet. The effect of intervention on workstation habits, musculoskeletal disorders, days and episodes of sick leave, and psychological well-being were assessed.
A significant improvement in workstation habits was found, and the differences remained significant at the follow-up time point for keyboard, mouse, chair, and desk use. The largest reduction in the percentage of musculoskeletal disorders was in the neck region (−42.2%, 95% CI −60.0 to −24.4). After adjusting for baseline values, significant differences were found at the follow-up time point in the neck, right shoulder, right and left upper limbs, lower back, and right and left lower limbs. No significant differences were found for the days and episodes of sick leave or the psychological well-being among workers after the intervention.
Consistent reductions were observed for all musculoskeletal disorders at the follow-up time point, although the difference was not statistically significant for the upper back. The improvements in the musculoskeletal disorders did not translate into fewer days lost from work or improved psychological well-being.
adult; ergonomics; musculoskeletal diseases; occupational health; training
Few prospective cohort studies of distal upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders have been performed. Past studies have provided somewhat conflicting evidence for occupational risk factors and have largely reported data without adjustments for many personal and psychosocial factors.
A multi-center prospective cohort study was incepted to quantify risk factors for distal upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders and potentially develop improved methods for analyzing jobs. Disorders to analyze included carpal tunnel syndrome, lateral epicondylalgia, medial epicondylalgia, trigger digit, deQuervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis and other tendinoses. Workers have thus far been enrolled from 17 different employment settings in 3 diverse US states and performed widely varying work. At baseline, workers undergo laptop administered questionnaires, structured interviews, two standardized physical examinations and nerve conduction studies to ascertain demographic, medical history, psychosocial factors and current musculoskeletal disorders. All workers’ jobs are individually measured for physical factors and are videotaped. Workers are followed monthly for the development of musculoskeletal disorders. Repeat nerve conduction studies are performed for those with symptoms of tingling and numbness in the prior six months. Changes in jobs necessitate re-measure and re-videotaping of job physical factors. Case definitions have been established. Point prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome is a combination of paraesthesias in at least two median nerve-served digits plus an abnormal nerve conduction study at baseline. The lifetime cumulative incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome will also include those with a past history of carpal tunnel syndrome. Incident cases will exclude those with either a past history or prevalent cases at baseline. Statistical methods planned include survival analyses and logistic regression.
A prospective cohort study of distal upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders is underway and has successfully enrolled over 1,000 workers to date.
Epidemiology; Ergonomics; Cohort; Carpal tunnel syndrome; Strain index; TLV for HAL
OBJECTIVES: To establish consensus case definitions for several common work related upper limb pain syndromes for use in surveillance or studies of the aetiology of these conditions. METHODS: A group of healthcare professionals from the disciplines interested in the prevention and management of upper limb disorders were recruited for a Delphi exercise. A questionnaire was used to establish case definitions from the participants, followed by a consensus conference involving the core group of 29 people. The draft conclusions were recirculated for review. RESULTS: Consensus case definitions were agreed for carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis of the wrist, de Quervain's disease of the wrist, epicondylitis, shoulder capsulitis (frozen shoulder), and shoulder tendonitis. The consensus group also identified a condition defined as "non-specific diffuse forearm pain" although this is essentially a diagnosis made by exclusion. The group did not have enough experience of the thoracic outlet syndrome to make recommendations. CONCLUSIONS: There was enough consensus between several health professionals from different disciplines to establish case definitions suitable for use in the studies of several work related upper limb pain syndromes. The use of these criteria should allow comparability between studies and centres and facilitate research in this field. The criteria may also be useful in surveillance programmes and as aids to case management.
Work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are prevalent among dentists and dental hygienists. An important risk factor for developing these disorders is forceful pinching which occurs during periodontal work such as dental scaling. Ergonomically designed dental scaling instruments may help reduce the prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome among dental practitioners. In this study, 8 custom-designed dental scaling instruments with different handle shapes were used by 24 dentists and dental hygienists to perform a simulated tooth scaling task. The muscle activity of two extensors and two flexors in the forearm was recorded with electromyography while thumb pinch force was measured by pressure sensors. The results demonstrated that the instrument handle with a tapered, round shape and a 10 mm diameter required the least muscle load and pinch force when performing simulated periodontal work. The results from this study can guide dentists and dental hygienists in selection of dental scaling instruments.
dentistry; hand tool; electromyography
Occupational computer use has been associated with upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UEMSDs), but the etiology and pathophysiology of some of these disorders are poorly understood. Various theories attribute the symptoms to biomechanical and/or psychosocial stressors. The results of several clinical studies suggest that elevated antagonist muscle tension may be a biomechanical stress factor. Affected computer users often exhibit limited wrist range of motion, particularly wrist flexion, which has been attributed to increased extensor muscle tension, rather than to pain symptoms. Recreational or domestic activities requiring extremes of wrist flexion may produce injurious stress on the wrist joint and muscles, the symptoms of which are then exacerbated by computer use. As these activities may involve a variety of forearm postures, we examined whether changes in forearm posture have an effect on pain reports during wrist flexion, or whether pain would have a limiting effect on flexion angle.
We measured maximum active wrist flexion using a goniometer with the forearm supported in the prone, neutral, and supine postures. Data was obtained from 5 subjects with UEMSDs attributed to computer use and from 13 control subjects.
The UEMSD group exhibited significantly restricted wrist flexion compared to the control group in both wrists at all forearm postures with the exception of the non-dominant wrist with the forearm prone. In both groups, maximum active wrist flexion decreased at the supine forearm posture compared to the prone posture. No UEMSD subjects reported an increase in pain symptoms during testing.
The UEMSD group exhibited reduced wrist flexion compared to controls that did not appear to be pain related. A supine forearm posture reduced wrist flexion in both groups, but the reduction was approximately 100% greater in the UEMSD group. The effect of a supine forearm posture on wrist flexion is consistent with known biomechanical changes in the distal extensor carpi ulnaris tendon that occur with forearm supination. We infer from these results that wrist extensor muscle passive tension may be elevated in UEMSD subjects compared to controls, particularly in the extensor carpi ulnaris muscle. Measuring wrist flexion at the supine forearm posture may highlight flexion restrictions that are not otherwise apparent.
Previous work has shown an association between restricted wrist range of motion (ROM) and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders in computer users. We compared the prevalence of MRI-identified wrist abnormalities and wrist ROM between asymptomatic and symptomatic computer users.
MR images at 1.5 T of both wrists were obtained from 10 asymptomatic controls (8 F, 2 M) and 14 computer users (10 F, 4 M) with chronic wrist pain (10 bilateral; 4 right-side). Maximum wrist range of motion in flexion and radioulnar deviation was measured with an electrogoniometer.
Extraosseous ganglia were identified in 66.6% of asymptomatic wrists and in 75% of symptomatic wrists. Intraosseous ganglia were identified in 45.8% of asymptomatic wrists and in 75% of symptomatic wrists, and were significantly (p < .05) larger in the symptomatic wrists. Distal ECU tendon instability was identified in 58.4% of both asymptomatic and symptomatic wrists. Dominant wrist flexion was significantly greater in the asymptomatic group (68.8 ± 6.7 deg.) compared to the symptomatic group (60.7 ± 7.3 deg.), p < .01. There was no significant correlation between wrist flexion and intraosseous ganglion burden (p = .09)
This appears to be the first MRI study of wrist abnormalities in computer users.
This study demonstrates that a variety of wrist abnormalities are common in computer users and that only intraosseous ganglia prevalence and size differed between asymptomatic and symptomatic wrists. Flexion was restricted in the dominant wrist of the symptomatic group, but the correlation between wrist flexion and intraosseous ganglion burden did not reach significance. Flexion restriction may be an indicator of increased joint loading, and identifying the cause may help to guide preventive and therapeutic interventions.
Complaints of the arm, neck and/or shoulders (CANS) in general and computer-related disorders in particular affect millions of computer office workers in Western developed countries. However, with the widespread use of computer systems in developing countries, the associated musculoskeletal complaints are yet to be investigated.
To study the prevalence of work-related CANS, among computer office workers in Sudan, and to test the psychometric properties of a translated Dutch questionnaire in Arabic language.
In 2005 282 computer office workers at a mobile telecommunication company and three banks in Khartoum, Sudan, received an Arabic language version of the validated Maastricht upper extremity questionnaire (MUEQ). The questionnaire holds 109 items covering demographic characteristics, in addition to six main domains (i.e. work station, body posture, break time, job control, job demands and social support) assessing potential physical and psychosocial risk factors. Forward/backward translation of the MUQE was done independently by two different translators. Prevalence over the past year were computed for CANS. Further, the psychometric properties of the Arabic questionnaire were investigated (i.e. factor structure and reliability) and cross-validation was carried out.
The response rate of the questionnaire was 88% (n = 250). The one-year prevalence of CANS showed that 53% of the respondents could be classified as mild cases. The highest incidences were found for neck and shoulder symptoms (64% and 41% respectively). The analysis of the psychometric properties of the scale resulted in the identification of 2 factors for each of the 6 domains (i.e. office equipment, computer position, head and body posture, awkward body posture, autonomy, quality of break time, skill discretion, decision authority, time pressure, task complexity, social support, and work flow). The calculation of internal consistency and cross validation provided evidence of reliability and lack of redundancy of items.
The prevalence of CANS among the targeted population seems to correspond strongly with prevalence of CANS in Western developed countries. The Arabic translation of the MUEQ has satisfactory psychometric properties to be used to assess work-related risk factors for the development of CANS among computer office workers in Sudan.
To assess the contribution of work-organisational and personal factors to the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) among garment workers in Los Angeles.
This is a cross-sectional study of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms among 520 sewing machine operators from 13 garment industry sewing shops. Detailed information on work-organisational factors, personal factors, and musculoskeletal symptoms were obtained in face-to-face interviews. The outcome of interest, upper body WMSD, was defined as a worker experiencing moderate or severe musculoskeletal pain. Unconditional logistic regression models were adopted to assess the association between both work-organisational factors and personal factors and the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain.
The prevalence of moderate or severe musculoskeletal pain in the neck/shoulder region was 24% and for distal upper extremity it was 16%. Elevated prevalence of upper body pain was associated with age less than 30 years, female gender, Hispanic ethnicity, being single, having a diagnosis of a MSD or a systemic illness, working more than 10 years as a sewing machine operator, using a single sewing machine, work in large shops, higher work–rest ratios, high physical exertion, high physical isometric loads, high job demand, and low job satisfaction.
Work-organisational and personal factors were associated with increased prevalence of moderate or severe upper body musculoskeletal pain among garment workers. Owners of sewing companies may be able to reduce or prevent WMSDs among employees by adopting rotations between different types of workstations thus increasing task variety; by either shortening work periods or increasing rest periods to reduce the work–rest ratio; and by improving the work-organisation to control psychosocial stressors. The findings may guide prevention efforts in the garment sector and have important public health implications for this workforce of largely immigrant labourers.
work organisation; musculoskeletal disorder; ergonomic; psychosocial; sewing machine
Literature abounds on the prevalent nature of Self Reported Musculoskeletal Symptoms (SRMS) among computer users, but studies that actually compared this with non computer users are meagre thereby reducing the strength of the evidence. This study compared the prevalence of SRMS between computer and non computer users and assessed the risk factors associated with SRMS.
A total of 472 participants comprising equal numbers of age and sex matched computer and non computer users were assessed for the presence of SRMS. Information concerning musculoskeletal symptoms and discomforts from the neck, shoulders, upper back, elbows, wrists/hands, low back, hips/thighs, knees and ankles/feet were obtained using the Standardized Nordic questionnaire.
The prevalence of SRMS was significantly higher in the computer users than the non computer users both over the past 7 days (χ2 = 39.11, p = 0.001) and during the past 12 month durations (χ2 = 53.56, p = 0.001). The odds of reporting musculoskeletal symptoms was least for participants above the age of 40 years (OR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.31-0.64 over the past 7 days and OR = 0.61; 95% CI = 0.47-0.77 during the past 12 months) and also reduced in female participants. Increasing daily hours and accumulated years of computer use and tasks of data processing and designs/graphics significantly (p < 0.05) increased the risk of reporting musculoskeletal symptoms. Over the past 7 day duration, the neck (33.9%) and low back (11.4%) had highest prevalence of SRMS for the computer and non computer users respectively.
The prevalence of SRMS was significantly higher in the computer users than the non computer users and younger age, being male, working longer hours daily, increasing years of computer use, data entry tasks and computer designs/graphics were the significant risk factors for reporting musculoskeletal symptoms among the computer users. Computer use may explain the increase in prevalence of SRMS among the computer users.
Considered from medical, social or economic perspectives, the cost of musculoskeletal injuries experienced in the workplace is substantial, and there is a need to identify the most efficacious interventions for their effective prevention, management and rehabilitation. Previous reviews have highlighted the limited number of studies that focus on upper extremity intervention programmes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the findings of primary, secondary and/or tertiary intervention studies for neck/upper extremity conditions undertaken between 1999 and 2004 and to compare these results with those of previous reviews. Relevant studies were retrieved through the use of a systematic approach to literature searching and evaluated using a standardised tool. Evidence was then classified according to a “pattern of evidence” approach. Studies were categorised into subgroups depending on the type of intervention: mechanical exposure interventions; production systems/organisational culture interventions and modifier interventions. 31 intervention studies met the inclusion criteria. The findings provided evidence to support the use of some mechanical and modifier interventions as approaches for preventing and managing neck/upper extremity musculoskeletal conditions and fibromyalgia. Evidence to support the benefits of production systems/organisational culture interventions was found to be lacking. This review identified no single‐dimensional or multi‐dimensional strategy for intervention that was considered effective across occupational settings. There is limited information to support the establishment of evidence‐based guidelines applicable to a number of industrial sectors.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between upper extremity soft tissue disorders and exposure to preventable ergonomic stressors in vehicle manufacturing operations. METHODS: A cross sectional study was conducted in one vehicle stamping plant and one engine assembly plant. A standardised physical examination of the upper extremities was performed on all subjects. An interviewer administered questionnaire obtained data on demographics, work history, musculoskeletal symptoms, non-occupational covariates, and psycho-physical (relative intensity) ratings of ergonomic stressors. The primary exposure score was computed by summing the responses to the psychophysical exposure items. Multivariate regression analysis was used to model the prevalence of disorders of the shoulders or upper arms, wrists or hands, and all upper extremity regions (each defined both by symptoms and by physical examination plus symptoms) as a function of exposure quartile. RESULTS: A total of 1315 workers (85% of the target population) was examined. The prevalence of symptom disorders was 22% for the wrists or hands and 15% for the shoulders or upper arms; cases defined on the basis of a physical examination were about 80% as frequent. Disorders of the upper extremities, shoulders, and wrists or hands all increased markedly with exposure score, after adjustment for plant, acute injury, sex, body mass index, systemic disease, and seniority. CONCLUSIONS: Musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities were strongly associated with exposure to combined ergonomic stressors. The exposure- response trend was very similar for symptom cases and for physical examination cases. It is important to evaluate all dimensions of ergonomic exposure in epidemiological studies, as exposures often occur in combination in actual workplaces.
Almost half of women treated with aromatase inhibitors (AI) develop AI-associated musculoskeletal symptoms (AIMSS) such as arthralgias, but the etiology is unclear. The upper extremities are frequently affected, especially wrists, hands, and fingers. AI use may also increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Tendon sheath fluid and tenosynovial changes have been demonstrated by imaging symptomatic AI-treated patients. We hypothesized that these abnormalities correlate with AIMSS.
Thirty consecutive patients initiating adjuvant therapy with letrozole or exemestane on a prospective clinical trial enrolled in a pilot study evaluating tendon and joint abnormalities at baseline and after 3 months of AI therapy. Patients underwent high resolution ultrasonography of the wrists bilaterally and completed the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and pain Visual Analog Scale (VAS). AIMSS were defined as increase in HAQ or VAS score during AI therapy that exceeded a predefined cutoff.
Twenty-five subjects completed both baseline and 3 month assessments. During the first 12 months of AI therapy, 15 subjects developed AIMSS, and 13 discontinued therapy because of musculoskeletal symptoms. There was a trend toward an association between presence of tendon sheath abnormalities on wrist ultrasound at baseline and development of AIMSS (p=0.06).
Clinically relevant musculoskeletal symptoms develop in AI-treated women, leading to treatment discontinuation in a substantial percentage. However, patient-reported symptoms were not associated with changes visible on wrist ultrasonography in this pilot study.
breast cancer; aromatase inhibitor; arthralgia; ultrasonography; musculoskeletal
Due to ergonomic exposure musicians are at risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the neck, back, and upper extremities. The literature confirms musculoskeletal problems in these anatomic regions among orchestra musicians.
An explorative cross-sectional study among 441 musicians from six Danish symphony orchestras; 216 underwent a clinical examination constructed for the purpose. Prior to the examination the musicians rated their maximally perceived trouble within the last week on a scheme blinded to the examiner. Accessibility to the clinical examination differed between orchestras.
The aims were to assess the prevalence of 1) perceived symptoms within the previous week in the neck, back and limbs and of 2) clinical findings in the neck, back, and upper extremities, and 3) to investigate the co-existence of the perceived symptoms and clinical findings.
Symptoms and findings were most common in the neck, back, and shoulders. Due to a poor co-existence between self-reported symptoms and clinical findings musicians experiencing bodily trouble could not be identified through this clinical examination. Free accessibility to the examination was of major importance to participation.
In compliance with the purpose, perceived symptoms within the previous week and present clinical findings were assessed. Although both symptoms and findings were most frequent in the neck, back, and shoulders the co-existence of anatomically localized symptoms and findings was generally quite poor in this study.
Discrepancy between symptoms and findings might be caused by the participants currently attending work and therefore being relatively healthy, and the fluctuating nature of musculoskeletal problems. Furthermore from a comparison of different measuring units - self-reported symptoms being period prevalence rates and clinical findings point prevalence rates; a bias which may also be inherent in similar studies combining self-reported questionnaire data and clinical findings.
Musicians; Symphony orchestra; Musculoskeletal symptoms; Musculoskeletal findings; Clinical examination; Pain; Repetitive strain injury; Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire; Cross-sectional; Exploratory