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.
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.
The objective of this study was to assess the incidence of Raynaud's phenomenon in relation to hand-arm vibration exposure in a cohort consisting of male office and manual workers.
The baseline population consisted of 94 office and 147 manual workers at an engineering plant. Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) was assessed at baseline and at follow up (at 5, 10 and 15 years). A retrospective and a prospective cohort analysis of data were done. Hand-arm vibration exposure dose was defined as the product of exposure duration and the weighted hand-arm vibration exposure value according to ISO 5349-1.
The retrospective/prospective incidence of Raynaud's phenomenon was 16/14 per 1000 exposure years among exposed and 2.4/5.0 per 1000 years among the not exposed. The retrospective dose response curve based on 4 dose classes showed that class 2, 3 and 4 had similar response and showed higher incidence than the not-exposed. The dose with RP response to hand-arm vibration corresponded to a 10 year A(8) value between 0.4–1.0 m/s2.
The results indicate that the EU directive on an action value for hand-arm vibration of 2.5 m/s2 is not too low. Rather, it suggests that employers should take on actions even at exposure values of 1 m/s2A(8).
Persisting neck pain is common in society. It has been reported that the prevalence of neck pain in office workers is much higher than in the general population. The costs to the worker, employer and society associated with work-related neck pain are known to be considerable and are escalating. The factors that place office workers at greater risk of developing neck pain are not understood. The aim of this study is to investigate the incidence and risk factors of work-related neck pain in Australian office workers.
We will conduct a prospective cohort study. A cohort of office workers without neck pain will be followed over a 12 month period, after baseline measurement of potential risk factors. The categories of risk factors being evaluated are physical (cervical spine posture, range of movement, muscle endurance and exercise frequency), demographic (age, sex), work environment (sitting duration, frequency of breaks) and psychosocial (psychological distress and psychosocial work factors). Cox regression analysis will be used to identify risk factors associated with work-related neck pain, and will be expressed as hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals. The data will also enable the incidence of neck pain in this population to be estimated.
In addition to clarifying the magnitude of this occupational health problem these data could inform policy in workplaces and provide the basis for primary prevention of neck pain in office workers, targeting the identified risk factors.
Complaints of arms, neck and shoulders (CANS) is common among computer office workers. We evaluated an aetiological model with physical/psychosocial risk-factors.
We invited 2,500 computer office workers for the study. Data on prevalence and risk-factors of CANS were collected by validated Maastricht-Upper-extremity-Questionnaire. Workstations were evaluated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Visual-Display-Terminal workstation-checklist. Participants' knowledge and awareness was evaluated by a set of expert-validated questions. A binary logistic regression analysis investigated relationships/correlations between risk-factors and symptoms.
Sample size was 2,210. Mean age 30.8 ± 8.1 years, 50.8% were males. The 1-year prevalence of CANS was 56.9%, commonest region of complaint was forearm/hand (42.6%), followed by neck (36.7%) and shoulder/arm (32.0%). In those with CANS, 22.7% had taken treatment from a health care professional, only in 1.1% seeking medical advice an occupation-related injury had been suspected/diagnosed. In addition 9.3% reported CANS-related absenteeism from work, while 15.4% reported CANS causing disruption of normal activities. A majority of evaluated workstations in all participants (88.4%,) and in those with CANS (91.9%) had OSHA non-compliant workstations. In the binary logistic regression analyses female gender, daily computer usage, incorrect body posture, bad work-habits, work overload, poor social support and poor ergonomic knowledge were associated with CANS and its' severity In a multiple logistic regression analysis controlling for age, gender and duration of occupation, incorrect body posture, bad work-habits and daily computer usage were significant independent predictors of CANS
The prevalence of work-related CANS among computer office workers in Sri Lanka, a developing, South Asian country is high and comparable to prevalence in developed countries. Work-related physical factors, psychosocial factors and lack of awareness were all important associations of CANS and effective preventive strategies need to address all three areas.
Computer workers; Ergonomics; Prevalence; Risk factors; Musculoskeletal diseases
Peripheral neuropathy is one of the principal clinical disorders in workers with hand-arm vibration syndrome. Electrophysiological studies aimed at defining the nature of the injury have provided conflicting results. One reason for this lack of consistency might be the sparsity of published longitudinal etiological studies with both good assessment of exposure and a well-defined measure of disease. Against this background we measured conduction velocities in the hand after having assessed vibration exposure over 21 years in a cohort of manual workers.
The study group consisted of 155 male office and manual workers at an engineering plant that manufactured pulp and paper machinery. The study has a longitudinal design regarding exposure assessment and a cross-sectional design regarding the outcome of nerve conduction. Hand-arm vibration dose was calculated as the product of self-reported occupational exposure, collected by questionnaire and interviews, and the measured or estimated hand-arm vibration exposure in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2008. Distal motor latencies in median and ulnar nerves and sensory nerve conduction over the carpal tunnel and the finger-palm segments in the median nerve were measured in 2008. Before the nerve conduction measurement, the subjects were systemically warmed by a bicycle ergometer test.
There were no differences in distal latencies between subjects exposed to hand-arm vibration and unexposed subjects, neither in the sensory conduction latencies of the median nerve, nor in the motor conduction latencies of the median and ulnar nerves. Seven subjects (9%) in the exposed group and three subjects (12%) in the unexposed group had both pathological sensory nerve conduction at the wrist and symptoms suggestive of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Nerve conduction measurements of peripheral hand nerves revealed no exposure-response association between hand-arm vibration exposure and distal neuropathy of the large myelinated fibers in a cohort of male office and manual workers.
In both science and media, the adverse effects of a long duration of computer use at work on musculoskeletal health have long been debated. Until recently, the duration of computer use was mainly measured by self-reports, and studies using more objective measures, such as software-recorded computer duration, were lacking. The objective of this study was to examine the association between duration of computer use at work, measured with software and self-reports, and the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand and neck–shoulder symptoms.
A 2-year follow-up study was conducted between 2004 and 2006 among 1951 office workers in The Netherlands. Self-reported computer duration and other risk factors were collected at baseline and at 1-year follow-up. Computer use at work was recorded continuously with computer software for 1009 participants. Outcome questionnaires were obtained at baseline and every 3 months during follow-up. Cases were identified based on the transition within 3 months of no or minor symptoms to severe symptoms.
Self-reported duration of computer use was positively associated with the onset of both arm–wrist–hand (RR 1.9, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.1 for more than 4 h/day of total computer use at work) and neck–shoulder symptoms (RR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.0 for more than 4 h/day of mouse use at work). The recorded duration of computer use did not show any statistically significant association with the outcomes.
In the present study, no association was found between the software-recorded duration of computer use at work and the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand and neck–shoulder symptoms using an exposure window of 3 months. In contrast, a positive association was found between the self-reported duration of computer use at work and the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand and neck–shoulder symptoms. The different findings for recorded and self-reported computer duration could not be explained satisfactorily.
Computers; neck; upper extremity; longitudinal studies; epidemiology; ergonomics; musculoskeletal; longitudinal studies; video-display units
Arm, shoulder and neck symptoms are very prevalent among computer workers. In an attempt to reduce these symptoms, a large occupational health service in the Netherlands developed a preventive programme on exposure to risk factors, prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms, and sick leave in computer workers. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of this intervention programme.
The study was a randomised controlled trial. The participants were assigned to either the intervention group or the usual care group by means of cluster randomisation. At baseline and after 12 months of follow-up, the participants completed the RSI QuickScan questionnaire on exposure to the risk factors and on the prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. A tailor-made intervention programme was proposed to participants with a high risk profile at baseline. Examples of implemented interventions are an individual workstation check, a visit to the occupational health physician and an education programme on the prevention of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. The primary outcome measure was the prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. Secondary outcome measures were the scores on risk factors for arm, shoulder and neck symptoms and the number of days of sick leave. Sick leave data was obtained from the companies. Multilevel analyses were used to test the effectiveness.
Of the 1,673 persons invited to participate in the study, 1,183 persons (71%) completed the baseline questionnaire and 741 persons participated at baseline as well as at 12-month follow-up. At 12-month follow-up, the intervention group showed a significant positive change (OR = 0.48) in receiving information on healthy computer use, as well as a significant positive change regarding risk indicators for work posture and movement, compared to the usual care group. There were no significant differences in changes in the prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms or sick leave between the intervention and usual care group.
The effects of the RSI QuickScan intervention programme were small, possibly as a result of difficulties with the implementation process of the proposed interventions. However, some significant positive effects were found as to an increase in receiving education and a decrease in exposure to adverse postures and movements. With regard to symptoms and sick leave, only small and non-significant effects were found.
Netherlands National Trial Register NTR1117
Complaints of Arm Neck and Shoulder (CANS) represent a wide range of complaints, which can differ in severity from mild, periodic symptoms to severe, chronic and debilitating conditions. They are thought to be associated with both physical and psychosocial risk factors. The measurement and identification of the various risk factors for these complaints is an important step towards recognizing (a) high risk subgroups that are relevant in profiling CANS; and (b) also for developing targeted and effective intervention plans for treatment. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of CANS in a Dutch population of computer workers and to develop a questionnaire aimed at measuring workplace physical and psychosocial risk factors for the presence of these complaints.
To examine potential workplace risk factors for the presence of CANS, the Maastricht Upper Extremity Questionnaire (MUEQ), a structured questionnaire, was developed and tested among 264 computer office workers of a branch office of the national social security institution in the Netherlands. The MUEQ holds 95 items covering demographic characteristics, in addition to seven main domains assessing potential risk factors with regard to (1) work station, (2) posture during work, (3) quality of break time, (4) job demands, (5) job control, and (6) social support. The MUEQ further contained some additional questions about the quality of the work environment and the presence of complaints in the neck, shoulder, upper and lower arm, elbow, hand and wrist. The prevalence rates of CANS in the past year were computed. Further, we investigated the psychometric properties of the MUEQ (i.e. factor structure and reliability).
The one-year prevalence rate of CANS indicated that 54% of the respondents reported at least one complaint in the arm, neck and/or shoulder. The highest prevalence rates were found for neck and shoulder symptoms (33% and 31% respectively), followed by hand and upper arm complaints (11% to 12%) and elbow, lower arm and wrist complaints (6% to 7%). The psychometric properties of the MUEQ were assessed using exploratory factor analysis which resulted in the identification of 12 factors. The calculation of internal consistency and cross validation provided evidence of reliability and lack of redundancy of items.
Neck and shoulder complaints are more frequently reported among Dutch computer workers than arm, elbow and hand complaints. The results further indicate that the MUEQ has satisfactory reliability and internal consistency when used to document CANS among computer workers in the Netherlands.
Musculoskeletal pain is associated with occupational physical activities and psychosocial risk factors. We evaluated the relative importance of work-related and psychological determinants of the number of anatomical sites affected by musculoskeletal pain in a cross-sectional survey.
The survey focused on musculoskeletal pain in six body regions (low-back, neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand and knee) among 224 nurses, 200 office workers and 140 postal clerks in Crete (response rate 95%). Information was collected about demographic characteristics, occupational physical load, psychosocial aspects of work, perceptions about causes of pain, mental health, tendency to somatize, and experience of pain in the past 12 months. Poisson regression was used to assess associations of risk factors with the number of painful anatomical sites and interactions were explored using classification and regression trees (CART).
Two-thirds of the study sample reported pain in at least two body sites during the past 12 months, and in 23%, more than three sites were affected. The number of painful anatomical sites was strongly related to both physical load at work and somatizing tendency (with relative risks increased five-fold or more for frequent and disabling multisite pain) , and was also significantly associated with work-related psychosocial factors, and beliefs about work causation. The CART analysis suggested that in the population studied, the leading determinant of the number of painful body sites was somatizing tendency.
In the population studied, pain at multiple anatomical sites is common, and is strongly associated with somatizing tendency, which may have a more important influence on multi-site pain than on pain that is limited to a single anatomical site.
epidemiology; occupational health
To assess the prevalence and correlates of regional pain and associated disability in four groups of Japanese workers.
As part of a large international survey of musculoskeletal symptoms (the CUPID study), samples of nurses, office workers, sales/marketing personnel and transportation operatives in Japan completed a self-administered questionnaire (response rate 83%). The questionnaire covered experience of pain in six anatomical regions, associated disability and sickness absence, and various possible occupational and psychosocial risk factors for these outcomes. Associations with risk factors were assessed by logistic regression.
Analysis was based on 2290 subjects. Rates of regional pain were generally less than have been reported in the UK, with a particularly low prevalence of wrist/hand pain among office workers (6% in the past month). The strongest and most consistent risk factor for regional pain in the past month was tendency to somatise (odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for report of ≥2 v 0 distressing somatic symptoms 3.1 (2.4-4.0) for low back pain, 2.8 (2.1-3.8) for shoulder pain, and 2.5 (1.6-4.1) for wrist/hand pain). Sickness absence for regional pain complaints in the past year was reported by 5% of participants, the major risk factor for this outcome being absence during the same period for other medical reasons (OR 3.7, 95%CI 2.4-5.8).
Japanese office workers have markedly lower rates of wrist/hand pain than their UK counterparts. In Japan, as in Western Europe, somatising tendency is a major risk factor for regional pain. Sickness absence attributed to regional pain complaints appears to be much less common in Japan than in the UK, and to be driven principally by a general propensity to take sickness absence.
Musculoskeletal; pain; disability; sickness absence; somatising
Neck and shoulder complaints are common among employees in sedentary occupations characterized by intensive computer use. Such musculoskeletal pain - which is often associated with restricted range of motion and loss of muscle strength - is one of the most common conditions treated by physical therapists. The exact mechanism of neck pain is rarely revealed by clinical examination and the treatment has varied from passive rest to active treatments. Active treatments have often been divided into either training of the painful area or the surrounding musculature avoiding direct training of the painful area. Our study investigates the effect of the latter approach.
A randomized controlled trial of 10 weeks duration is currently being conducted. Employed office workers with severe neck-shoulder pain are randomized to 3 × 20 min shoulder function training with training supervision or to a reference group receiving advice to stay physically active. Shoulder function training primarily focuses on the serratus anterior and lower trapezius muscle with only minimal activation the upper trapezius.
An announcement was sent to the administrative section of the university including jobs characterized by intensive computer work. The first 100 positive replies entered the study. Among these inclusion criteria were pain intensity in the neck/shoulder of at least 3 on a 0-9 scale. Exclusion criteria were cardiovascular disease, trauma, hypertension, or serious chronic disease. Before and after the intervention period the participants replied to a questionnaire about musculoskeletal disorders and work disability, and underwent a standardized clinical examination of the neck and shoulder girdle. Further, on a weekly basis the participants log pain intensity of the neck and shoulder during the previous week.
The primary outcome measure is pain in the neck and shoulders at week 10 based on the weekly pain registration and results from the clinical examination. Secondary outcomes are strength and work disability.
ClinicalTrials (NCT): NCT01205542
Complaints of arm, neck and/or shoulders (CANS) affects millions of computer office workers. However its prevalence and associated risk factors in developing countries are yet to be investigated, due to non availability of validated assessment tools for these countries. We evaluated the 1-year prevalence of CANS among computer office workers in Sri Lanka and tested the psychometric properties of a translated risk factor questionnaire.
Computer office workers at a telecommunication company in Sri Lankan received the Sinhalese version of the validated Maastricht Upper Extremity Questionnaire (MUEQ). The 94 items in the questionnaire covers demographic characteristics, CANS and evaluates potential risk factors for CANS in six domains. Forward and backward translation of the MUEQ was done by two independent bi-lingual translators. One-year prevalence of CANS and psychometric properties of the Sinhalese questionnaire were investigated.
Response rate was 97.7% (n = 440). Males were 42.7%. Mean age was 38.2 ± 9.5 years. One-year prevalence of CANS was 63.6% (mild-53.7% and severe-10%). The highest incidences were for neck (36.1%) and shoulder (34.3%) complaints. Two factors for each domain in the scale were identified by exploratory factor analysis (i.e. work-area, computer-position, incorrect body posture, bad-habits, skills and abilities, decision-making, time-management, work-overload, work-breaks, variation in work, work-environment and social-support). Calculation of internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha 0.43-0.82) and cross-validation provided evidence of reliability and lack of redundancy of items.
One year prevalence of CANS in the study population corresponds strongly with prevalence in developed countries. Translated version of the MUEQ has satisfactory psychometric properties for it to be used to assess work-related risk factors for development of CANS among Sri Lankan computer office workers.
The objective of the present study is to describe the extent of productivity loss among computer workers with neck/shoulder symptoms and hand/arm symptoms, and to examine associations between pain intensity, various physical and psychosocial factors and productivity loss in computer workers with neck/shoulder and hand/arm symptoms.
A cross-sectional design was used. The study population consisted of 654 computer workers with neck/shoulder or hand/arm symptoms from five different companies. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the occurrence of self-reported productivity loss. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations.
In 26% of all the cases reporting symptoms, productivity loss was involved, the most often in cases reporting both symptoms (36%). Productivity loss involved sickness absence in 11% of the arm/hand cases, 32% of the neck/shoulder cases and 43% of the cases reporting both symptoms. The multivariate analyses showed statistically significant odds ratios for pain intensity (OR: 1.26; CI: 1.12–1.41), for high effort/no low reward (OR: 2.26; CI: 1.24–4.12), for high effort/low reward (OR: 1.95; CI: 1.09–3.50), and for low job satisfaction (OR: 3.10; CI: 1.44–6.67). Physical activity in leisure time, full-time work and overcommitment were not associated with productivity loss.
In most computer workers with neck/shoulder symptoms or hand/arm symptoms productivity loss derives from a decreased performance at work and not from sickness absence. Favorable psychosocial work characteristics might prevent productivity loss in symptomatic workers.
Productivity; Musculoskeletal symptoms; Presenteeism; Computer workers; Psychosocial factors
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
Specific strength training can reduce neck and shoulder pain in office workers, but the optimal combination of exercise frequency and duration remains unknown. This study investigates how one weekly hour of strength training for the neck and shoulder muscles is most effectively distributed.
A total of 447 office workers with and without neck and/or shoulder pain were randomly allocated at the cluster-level to one of four groups; 1×60 (1WS), 3×20 (3WS) or 9×7 (9WS) min a week of supervised high-intensity strength training for 20 weeks, or to a reference group without training (REF). Primary outcome was self-reported neck and shoulder pain (scale 0–9) and secondary outcome work disability (Disability in Arms, Shoulders and Hands (DASH)).
The intention-to-treat analysis showed reduced neck and right shoulder pain in the training groups after 20 weeks compared with REF. Among those with pain ≥3 at baseline (n=256), all three training groups achieved significant reduction in neck pain compared with REF (p<0.01). From a baseline pain rating of 3.2 (SD 2.3) in the neck among neck cases, 1WS experienced a reduction of 1.14 (95% CI 0.17 to 2.10), 3WS 1.88 (0.90 to 2.87) and 9WS 1.35 (0.24 to 2.46) which is considered clinically significant. DASH was reduced in 1WS and 3WS only.
One hour of specific strength training effectively reduced neck and shoulder pain in office workers. Although the three contrasting training groups showed no statistical differences in neck pain reduction, only 1WS and 3WS reduced DASH. This study suggests some flexibility regarding time-wise distribution when implementing specific strength training at the workplace.
The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in the shoulder, arm and hand is high among slaughterhouse workers, allegedly due to the highly repetitive and forceful exposure of these body regions during work. Work disability is a common consequence of these pains. Lowering the physical exposure through ergonomics intervention is the traditional strategy to reduce the workload. An alternative strategy could be to increase physical capacity of the worker through strength training. This study investigates the effect of two contrasting interventions, participatory ergonomics versus strength training on pain and work disability in slaughterhouse workers with chronic pain.
66 slaughterhouse workers were allocated to 10 weeks of (1) strength training of the shoulder, arm and hand muscles for 3 x 10 minutes per week, or (2) participatory ergonomics involving counseling on workstation adjustment and optimal use of work tools (~usual care control group). Inclusion criteria were (1) working at a slaughterhouse for at least 30 hours per week, (2) pain intensity in the shoulder, elbow/forearm, or hand/wrist of at least 3 on a 0–10 VAS scale during the last three months, (3) pain lasting for more than 3 months, (4) frequent pain (at least 3 days per week) (5) at least moderate work disability, (6) no strength training during the last year, (7) no ergonomics instruction during the last year.
Perceived pain intensity (VAS scale 0–10) of the shoulder, elbow/forearm and hand/wrist (primary outcome) and Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (Work module, DASH questionnaire) were measured at baseline and 10-week follow-up. Further, total muscle tenderness score and muscle function were assessed during clinical examination at baseline and follow-up.
This RCT study will provide experimental evidence of the effectiveness of contrasting work-site interventions aiming at reducing chronic pain and work disability among employees engaged in repetitive and forceful work.
Musculoskeletal disorders; Occupational health; Shoulder pain; Tennis elbow; Repetitive and forceful movements
Neck pain is more prevalent in office workers than in the general community. To date, findings from prospective studies that investigated causal relationships between putative risk factors and the onset of neck pain in this population have been limited by high loss to follow-up. The aim of this research was to prospectively evaluate a range of risk factors for neck pain in office workers, using validated and reliable objective measures as well as attain an estimate of 1-year incidence. We assembled a cohort of 53 office workers without neck pain and measured individual, physical, workplace and psychological factors at baseline. We followed participants for 1 year to measure the incidence of neck pain. We achieved 100% participant follow-up. Cox regression analysis was applied to examine the relationship between the putative risk factors and the cumulative incidence of neck pain. The 1-year incidence proportion of neck pain in Australian office workers was estimated in this study to be 0.49 (95% CI 0.36–0.62). Predictors of neck pain with moderate to large effect sizes were female gender (HR: 3.07; 95% CI: 1.18–7.99) and high psychological stress (HR: 1.64; 95% CI: 0.66–4.07). Protective factors included increased mobility of the cervical spine (HR: 0.44; 95% CI: 0.19–1.05) and frequent exercise (HR: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.27–1.51). These results reveal that neck pain is common in Australian office workers and that there are risk factors that are potentially modifiable.
Neck pain; Risk factors; Incidence; Office workers
Neck and shoulder complaints are common among employees in sedentary occupations characterized by intensive computer use. Specific strength training is a promising type of physical exercise for relieving neck and shoulder pain in office workers. However, the optimal combination of frequency and exercise duration, as well as the importance of exercise supervision, is unknown. The VIMS study investigates in a cluster randomized controlled design the effectiveness of different time wise combinations of specific strength training with identical accumulated volume, and the relevance of training supervision for safe and effective training.
A cluster randomized controlled trial of 20 weeks duration where employed office workers are randomized to 1 × 60 min, 3 × 20 min, 9 × 7 min per week of specific strength training with training supervision, to 3 × 20 min per week of specific strength training with a minimal amount of training supervision, or to a reference group without training. A questionnaire will be sent to 2000 employees in jobs characterized by intensive computer work. Employees with cardiovascular disease, trauma, hypertension, or serious chronic disease will be excluded. The main outcome measure is pain in the neck and shoulders at week 20.
The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01027390.
Introduction This study aims to investigate the relationship between work-related physical and psychosocial characteristics and complaints of the neck, shoulder and forearm/hands. Methods Data were used from a prospective Dutch cohort study among computer office workers with a follow-up period of 2 years. The study was conducted among 264 computer users. Physical and psychosocial risk factors were tested to predict the occurrence of neck, shoulder and forearm/hands complaints. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression was used to identify the association between risk factors and outcome variables. Results The 2 year follow-up prevalence rates with 95% CI for neck complaints were 0.31 (0.28–0.37), for shoulder complaints 0.33 (0.27–0.39) and for forearm/hands complaints 0.21 (0.14–0.28). Four main predictors for the occurrence of neck and shoulder complaints were identified: (1) Irregular head and body posture [OR: 1.1 (1.0–1.2) P = 0.04]; (2) task difficulty (job demands) [OR: 1.2 (1.0–1.5) P = 0.01]; (3) number of working hours/day with the computer [OR: 1.20 (1.0–1.4) P = 0.03]; and (4) having had a previous history of complaints [OR: 7.2 (3.8–13.2) P = 0.01]. Two predictors were identified for forearm/hands complaints: time pressure (job demands) [OR: 1.20 (1.0–1.4) P = 0.03] and having had a previous history of complaints [OR: 7.1 (3.5–14.1) P = 0.06]. Conclusion This longitudinal study suggests that risk factors of upper musculoskeletal complaints in computer workers consist of a mixture of physical and psychosocial characteristics.
Risk factors; Neck shoulder and forearm/hands; Complaints
Individual and work related risk factors in the development of occupational musculoskeletal complaints were studied in a group of 210 female production workers, mainly sewing machine operators. Another group of 35 female employees performing secretarial or laboratory duties were also included. The production workers had significantly higher symptom scores with respect to self reported musculoskeletal complaints than the group with more varied work tasks for the head, neck, shoulders, and arms, but not for the low back, hips, and the lower extremities. No significant differences were found in symptom level between geographically separate groups of production workers with similar work tasks. The main individual risk factor identified in this study was the experience of previous, similar symptoms in the same body region, but this factor only accounted for 2-3% of total variance in symptom score for the neck and shoulders. Other individual factors of importance for symptoms in the neck and shoulders were "signs of psychological problems" and "tendency of muscle tension," but these only account for about 1% of total variance in symptom score. Symptoms in the head and low back showed complex relations with individual parameters.
Factors influencing work-related musculoskeletal disorders might differ in developing and developed countries.
To assess the prevalence and determinants of musculoskeletal pain in four occupational populations in Sri Lanka
As part of the international CUPID study, samples of postal workers, sewing machinists, nurses and computer operators were interviewed about pain in the past month at each of six anatomical sites, and about possible physical and psychosocial risk factors. Associations with prevalent pain were assessed by binomial regression.
Analysis was based on 852 participants (response rate 86%). Overall, the lower back was the most common site of pain, with one-month prevalence ranging from 12% in computer operators to 30% in nurses. Postal workers had the highest prevalence of shoulder pain (23%), but pain in the wrist/hand was relatively uncommon in all four occupational groups (prevalence rates from 8% to 9%). Low mood and tendency to somatise were each consistently associated with pain at all six sites. After adjustment for psychosocial risk factors, there was a higher rate of low back pain in nurses and postal workers than computer operators, a higher rate of shoulder pain in postal workers relative to other occupations, and a relatively low rate of knee pain in computer operators.
Rates of regional pain, especially at the wrist/hand, were lower than have been reported in western countries. As elsewhere, pain was strongly associated with low mood and somatising tendency. Differences in patterns of pain by occupation may reflect differences in physical activities.
Low back; neck; shoulder; elbow; wrist; knee; risk factor; psychosocial; low mood; somatising tendency
Musculoskeletal disorders increase the risk for absenteeism and work disability. However, the threshold when musculoskeletal pain intensity significantly increases the risk of sickness absence among different occupations is unknown. This study estimates the risk for long-term sickness absence (LTSA) from different pain intensities in the low back, neck/shoulder and knees among female healthcare workers in eldercare.
Prospective cohort study among 8,732 Danish female healthcare workers responding to a questionnaire in 2004–2005, and subsequently followed for one year in a national register of social transfer payments (DREAM). Using Cox regression hazard ratio (HR) analysis we modeled risk estimates of pain intensities on a scale from 0–9 (reference 0, where 0 is no pain and 9 is worst imaginable pain) in the low back, neck/shoulders and knees during the last three months for onset of LTSA (receiving sickness absence compensation for at least eight consecutive weeks) during one-year follow-up.
During follow-up, the 12-month prevalence of LTSA was 6.3%. With adjustment for age, BMI, smoking and leisure physical activity, the thresholds of pain intensities significantly increasing risk of LTSA for the low back (HR 1.44 [95%CI 1.07–1.93]), neck/shoulders (HR 1.47 [95%CI 1.10–1.96]) and knees (HR 1.43 [95%CI 1.06–1.93]) were 5, 4 and 3 (scale 0–9), respectively, referencing pain intensity of 0.
The threshold of pain intensity significantly increasing the risk for LTSA among female healthcare workers varies across body regions, with knee pain having the lowest threshold. This knowledge may be used in the prevention of LTSA among health care workers.
Background Factors influencing work-related musculoskeletal disorders might differ in developing and developed countries.
Aims To assess the prevalence and determinants of musculoskeletal pain in four occupational populations in Sri Lanka.
Methods As part of the international Cultural and Psychosocial Influences on Disability study, samples of postal workers, sewing machinists, nurses and computer operators were interviewed about pain at each of six anatomical sites in the past month, and about possible physical and psychosocial risk factors. Associations with prevalent pain were assessed by binomial regression.
Results Analysis was based on 852 participants (86% response rate). Overall, the lower back was the most common site of pain, with 1-month prevalence ranging from 12% in computer operators to 30% in nurses. Postal workers had the highest prevalence of shoulder pain (23%), but pain in the wrist/hand was relatively uncommon in all four occupational groups (prevalence rates ranged from 8% to 9%). Low mood and tendency to somatize were consistently associated with pain at all six sites. After adjustment for psychosocial risk factors, there was a higher rate of low back pain in nurses and postal workers than in computer operators, a higher rate of shoulder pain in postal workers than in the other occupational populations, and a relatively low rate of knee pain in computer operators.
Conclusions Rates of regional pain, especially at the wrist/hand, were lower than have been reported in Western countries. As elsewhere, pain was strongly associated with low mood and somatizing tendency. Differences in patterns of pain by occupation may reflect differences in physical activities.
Elbow; knee; low back; low mood; neck; psychosocial; risk factor; shoulder; somatizing tendency; wrist; Elbow
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.