The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
It is unclear whether the well-known risk factors for the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) also play an important role in the determining consequences of MSD in terms of sickness absence and health care use.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 853 shipyard employees. Data were collected by questionnaire on physical and psychosocial workload, need for recovery, perceived general health, occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints, and health care use during the past year. Retrospective data on absenteeism were also available from the company register.
In total, 37%, 22%, and 15% of employees reported complaints of low back, shoulder/neck, and hand/wrist during the past 12 months, respectively. Among all employees with at least one MSD, 27% visited a physician at least once and 20% took at least one period of sick leave. Various individual and work-related factors were associated with the occurrence of MSD. Health care use and absenteeism were strongest influenced by chronicity of musculoskeletal complaints and comorbidity with other musculoskeletal complaints and, to a lesser extent, by work-related factors.
In programmes aimed at preventing the unfavourable consequences of MSD in terms of sickness absence and health care use it is important to identify the (individual) factors that determine the development of chronicity of complaints. These factors may differ from the well-know risk factors for the occurrence of MSD that are targeted in primary prevention.
This article describes the background and study design of the PROMO study (Prospective Research on Musculoskeletal disorders in Office workers). Few longitudinal studies have been performed to investigate the risk factors responsible for the incidence of hand, arm, shoulder and neck symptoms among office workers, given the observation that a large group of office workers might be at risk worldwide. Therefore, the PROMO study was designed. The main aim is to quantify the contribution of exposure to occupational computer use to the incidence of hand, arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. The results of this study might lead to more effective and/or cost-efficient preventive interventions among office workers.
A prospective cohort study is conducted, with a follow-up of 24 months. In total, 1821 participants filled out the first questionnaire (response rate of 74%). Data on exposure and outcome is collected using web-based self-reports. Outcome assessment takes place every three months during the follow-up period. Data on computer use are collected at baseline and continuously during follow-up using a software program.
The advantages of the PROMO study include the long follow-up period, the repeated measurement of both exposure and outcome, and the objective measurement of the duration of computer use. In the PROMO study, hypotheses stemming from lab-based and field-based research will be investigated.
This study was planned to collect data about causes, prevalence and responses to work-related musculoskeletal disorders reported by physiotherapists employed in Izmir, Turkey.
A two-page survey with closed ended questions was used as the data collected method. This survey was distributed to 205 physiotherapists working in Izmir, Turkey, and 120 physiotherapists answered. Questions included occupational history of physiotherapists and musculoskeletal symptoms, special areas, tasks, job-related risk factors, injury prevention strategies, and responses to injury.
Eighty-five percent of the physiotherapists have had a musculoskeletal injury once or more in their lifetime. Injuries have been occurred mostly in low back (26 %), hand-wrist (18 %), shoulders (14 %) and neck (12 %). The highest risk factor in causing the injury was transferring the patient at 15%. Sixty-nine percent of physiotherapists visited a physician for their injury and sixty-seven percent of the respondents indicated that they had not limited their patient contact time as a result to their injury
According to the results of this study, the rate of musculoskeletal disorders in physiotherapists in Izmir-Turkey has been found to be high due to their profession. Respondents felt that a change in work habits was required in order to decrease the risk of another injury.
Disability associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders is an increasingly serious societal problem. Although most injured workers return quickly to work, a substantial number do not. The costs of chronic disability to the injured worker, his or her family, employers, and society are enormous. A means of accurate early identification of injured workers at risk for chronic disability could enable these individuals to be targeted for early intervention to promote return to work and normal functioning. The purpose of this study is to develop statistical models that accurately predict chronic work disability from data obtained from administrative databases and worker interviews soon after a work injury. Based on these models, we will develop a brief instrument that could be administered in medical or workers' compensation settings to screen injured workers for chronic disability risk.
This is a population-based, prospective study. The study population consists of workers who file claims for work-related back injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in Washington State. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries claims database is reviewed weekly to identify workers with new claims for work-related back injuries and CTS, and these workers are telephoned and invited to participate. Workers who enroll complete a computer-assisted telephone interview at baseline and one year later. The baseline interview assesses sociodemographic, employment-related, biomedical/health care, legal, and psychosocial risk factors. The follow-up interview assesses pain, disability, and work status. The primary outcome is duration of work disability over the year after claim submission, as assessed by administrative data. Secondary outcomes include work disability status at one year, as assessed by both self-report and work disability compensation status (administrative records). A sample size of 1,800 workers with back injuries and 1,200 with CTS will provide adequate statistical power (0.96 for low back and 0.85 for CTS) to predict disability with an alpha of .05 (two-sided) and a hazard ratio of 1.2. Proportional hazards regression models will be constructed to determine the best combination of predictors of work disability duration at one year. Regression models will also be developed for the secondary outcomes.
We previously reported early tissue injury, increased serum and tissue inflammatory cytokines and decreased grip in young rats performing a moderate demand repetitive task. The tissue cytokine response was transient, the serum response and decreased grip were still evident by 8 weeks. Thus, here, we examined their levels at 12 weeks in young rats. Since aging is known to enhance serum cytokine levels, we also examined aged rats.
Aged and young rats, 14 mo and 2.5 mo of age at onset, respectfully, were trained 15 min/day for 4 weeks, and then performed a high repetition, low force (HRLF) reaching and grasping task for 2 hours/day, for 12 weeks. Serum was assayed for 6 cytokines: IL-1alpha, IL-6, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, MIP2, IL-10. Grip strength was assayed, since we have previously shown an inverse correlation between grip strength and serum inflammatory cytokines. Results were compared to naïve (grip), and normal, food-restricted and trained-only controls.
Serum cytokines were higher overall in aged than young rats, with increases in IL-1alpha, IFN-gamma and IL-6 in aged Trained and 12-week HRLF rats, compared to young Trained and HRLF rats (p < 0.05 and p < 0.001, respectively, each). IL-6 was also increased in aged 12-week HRLF versus aged normal controls (p < 0.05). Serum IFN-gamma and MIP2 levels were also increased in young 6-week HRLF rats, but no cytokines were above baseline levels in young 12-week HRLF rats. Grip strength declined in both young and aged 12-week HRLF rats, compared to naïve and normal controls (p < 0.05 each), but these declines correlated only with IL-6 levels in aged rats (r = -0.39).
Aging enhanced a serum cytokine response in general, a response that was even greater with repetitive task performance. Grip strength was adversely affected by task performance in both age groups, but was apparently influenced by factors other than serum cytokine levels in young rats.
Within the working population there is a vulnerable group: workers without an employment contract and workers with a flexible labour market arrangement, e.g. temporary agency workers. In most cases, when sick-listed, these workers have no workplace/employer to return to. Also, for these workers access to occupational health care is limited or even absent in many countries. For this vulnerable working population there is a need for tailor-made occupational health care, including the presence of an actual return-to-work perspective. Therefore, a participatory return-to-work program has been developed based on a successful return-to-work intervention for workers, sick-listed due to low back pain.
The objective of this paper is to describe the design of a randomised controlled trial to study the (cost-)effectiveness of this newly developed participatory return-to-work program adapted for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders, compared to usual care.
The design of this study is a randomised controlled trial with one year of follow-up. The study population consists of temporary agency workers and unemployed workers sick-listed between 2 and 8 weeks due to musculoskeletal disorders. The new return-to-work program is a stepwise program aimed at making a consensus-based return-to-work implementation plan with the possibility of a (therapeutic) workplace to return-to-work. Outcomes are measured at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The primary outcome measure is duration of the sickness benefit period after the first day of reporting sick. Secondary outcome measures are: time until first return-to-work, total number of days of sickness benefit during follow-up; functional status; intensity of musculoskeletal pain; pain coping; and attitude, social influence and self-efficacy determinants. Cost-benefit is evaluated from an insurer's perspective. A process evaluation is part of this study.
For sick-listed workers without an employment contract there can be gained a lot by improving occupational health care, including return-to-work guidance, and by minimising the 'labour market handicap' by creating a return-to-work perspective. In addition, reduction of sickness absence and work disability, i.e. a reduction of disability claims, may result in substantial benefits for the Dutch Social Security System.
Trial registration number: NTR1047.
In epidemiological studies on neck-shoulder disorders, physical examination by health professionals, although more expensive, is usually considered a better method of data collection than self-administered questionnaires on symptoms. However, little is known on the comparison of these two methods of data collection. The agreement between self-administered questionnaires and the physical examination on the presence of neck-shoulders disorders was assessed in the present study.
This study was conducted among clerical workers using video display units. Prevalent cases were workers for whom neck-shoulder symptoms were present for at least 3 days during the previous 7 days and for whom pain intensity was greater than 50 mm on a 100 mm visual analogue scale. All 85 workers meeting this definition and a random sample of 102 workers who did not meet this definition were selected. Physical examination included measures of active range of motion and musculoskeletal strength. Cohen's kappa and global percent agreement were calculated to compare the two methods of data collection. The effect on the agreement of different question and physical examination definitions and the importance of the time interval elapsed between the administrations of the tests were also evaluated.
Kappa coefficients ranged from 0.19 to 0.54 depending on the definitions used to ascertain disorders. The agreement was highest when the two instruments were administered 21 days apart or less (Kappa = 0.54, global agreement = 77%). It was not substantially improved by the addition of criteria related to functional limitations or when comparisons were made with alternative physical examination definitions. Pain intensity recorded during physical examination maneuvers was an important element of the agreement between questionnaire and physical examination findings.
These results suggest a fair to good agreement between the presence of musculoskeletal disorders ascertained by self-administered questionnaire and physical examination that may reflect differences in the constructs measured. Shorter time lags result in better agreement. Investigators should consider these results before choosing a method to measure the presence of musculoskeletal disorders in the neck-shoulder region.
Studies using clinical and volunteer samples have reported an elevated prevalence of mood disorders in association with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Clinical studies using anxiety rating scales have reported inconsistent results, but studies using diagnostic instruments have reported that anxiety disorders may be even more strongly associated with arthritis than is depression. One study reported an association between lifetime substance use disorders and arthritis.
Data from iteration 1.2 of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) were used. This was a large-scale national Canadian health survey which administered the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview to a sample of 36,984 subjects randomly selected from the national population. In the CCHS 1.2, subjects were asked whether they had been diagnosed by a health professional with arthritis or rheumatism.
Subjects reporting arthritis or rheumatism had an elevated prevalence of mood, anxiety and substance use disorders. The strength of association resembled that seen in an omnibus category reporting any chronic condition, but was weaker than that seen with back pain or fibromyalgia. The effect of arthritis or rheumatism interacted with age, such that the odds ratios became smaller with increasing age. Mood and anxiety disorders, along with arthritis or rheumatism made an independent contribution to disability.
Arthritis is associated with psychiatric morbidity in the general population, and this morbidity is seen across a variety of mental disorders. The strength of association is consistent with that seen in persons with other self-reported medical conditions.
A systematic appraisal of the worldwide incidence and prevalence rates of UEDs available in scientific literature was executed to gauge the range of these estimates in various countries and to determine whether the rates are increasing in time.
Studies that recruited at least 500 people, collected data by using questionnaires, interviews and/or physical examinations, and reported incidence or prevalence rates of the whole upper-extremity including neck, were included.
No studies were found with regard to the incidence of UEDs and 13 studies that reported prevalence rates of UEDs were included. The point prevalence ranged from 1.6–53%; the 12-months prevalence ranged from 2.3–41%. One study reported on the lifetime prevalence (29%). We did not find evidence of a clear increasing or decreasing pattern over time. The case definitions for UEDs used in the studies, differed enormously. Therefore, it was not possible to pool the data.
There are substantial differences in reported prevalence rates on UEDs. Main reason for this is the absence of a universally accepted way of labelling or defining UEDs. If we want to make progress in this field, the first requirement is to agree on unambiguous terminology and classification of EUDs.
The prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints in dentists is high although relatively few studies had focus in this profession. The aim of this study was to investigate the relations between physical, psychosocial, and individual characteristics and different endpoints of musculoskeletal complaints of low back, neck, shoulders and hand/wrist.
A questionnaire survey was carried out among 430 dentists (response 88%) in Thessaloniki, Greece. Questions include data on physical and psychosocial workload, need for recovery, perceived general health and (i) the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints in the past 12 months, (ii) chronic complaints during at least 1 month, complaints which led to (iii) sickness absence, and (iv) medical care seeking. In logistic regression analysis odds ratios were estimated for all relevant risk factors.
62% of dentists reported at least one musculoskeletal complaint, 30% chronic complaints, 16% had spells of absence and, 32% sought medical care. Self-reported factors of physical load were associated with the occurrence of back pain (OR = 1.59), shoulder pain (OR = 2.57) and, hand/wrist pain (OR = 3.46). With the exception of hand/wrist complaints, the physical factors were not associated with chronic complaints and musculoskeletal sickness absence. Physical load showed a trend with the number of musculoskeletal complaints with ORs of 2.50, 3.07 and 4.40 for two, three and four musculoskeletal complaints, respectively. No consistent influence of psychosocial factors on complaints, chronicity, sickness absence and medical care seeking was observed. A perceived moderate general health was a significant factor for chronic complaints, comorbidity and medical care seeking where high perceived exertion was significant for absenteeism. Living alone was also related with increased absenteeism due to shoulder pain (OR = 5.01) and hand/wrist (OR = 4.07).
The physical load among dentists seems to put them at risk for the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders. More than one and severe complaints are related to perceived general health while high perceived exertion and social characteristics are associated with sickness absence. Chronic symptoms seem to determine medical care seeking. Ergonomic interventions may have a greater impact in prevention of hand/wrist complaints. When investigating the influence of work-related risk factors on musculoskeletal health, psychosocial and other personal characteristics should be taken into account.
Australian professional orchestral musicians reported a lifetime prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries that had interfered with playing at 84%. Physical therapy-led triage clinics may be a practical method to manage the impact of high performance-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs) in professional orchestral musicians. This study aimed to: a) collect information on presenting injuries, b) determine the participant’s provisional diagnosis, c) evaluate uptake of an on-site triage service, d) measure participant satisfaction, and e) identify factors influencing attendance.
Eight triage sessions were run on a fortnightly basis during a designated lunch break between rehearsal calls in seven premier symphony orchestras in Australia; a total population of 483 musicians. The participants received one or a combination of: a) education and advice relating to their provisional diagnosis, b) basic acute management and/or c) a referral to a suitable medical practitioner or allied health professional for further consultation or treatment. A three-month follow-up questionnaire was completed and a qualitative narrative themes-based analysis was undertaken to summarise participant and physical therapist feedback. Uptake, participant satisfaction and factors influencing attendance were measured.
99 initial consultations (83 individuals) were conducted with more females (61%) utilizing the service than males (49%). The most common injury complaints were in the shoulder (22%), neck (18%), upper back (18%), and hand (8%). 66% of these were diagnosed as PRMDs. Of these injuries, 94% were considered preventable, 93% continued to affect playing, 68% were severe requiring a referral for further management, and 46% were recurrent. The advice at the triage service was rated as helpful or very helpful by 79% of the musicians, whilst 68% responded they were likely or very likely to continue to use the service if it was offered in the future. Of the participants that followed through with the referral advice, 67% reported that the referral advice was helpful or very helpful. Musicians’ and physical therapists’ written feedback indicated their acknowledgement for the need of this service. The main suggestions for improving attendance were increasing the music-specific physical therapy knowledge of therapists and overcoming competing time demands.
On-site health services for musicians may facilitate better injury management by providing immediate and specific health advice.
Injury management; Performance-related musculoskeletal disorders; Performing arts medicine; Physical therapy; Prevention
The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the aluminium industry is high, and there is a considerable work-related fraction. More knowledge about the predictors of sickness absence from MSD in this industry will be valuable in determining strategies for prevention. The aim of this study was to analyse the relative impact of body parts, psychosocial and individual factors as predictors for short- and long-term sickness absence from MSD among industrial workers.
A follow-up study was conducted among all the workers at eight aluminium plants in Norway. A questionnaire was completed by 5654 workers at baseline in 1998. A total of 3320 of these participated in the follow-up study in 2000. Cox regression analysis was applied to investigate the relative impact of MSD in various parts of the body and of psychosocial and individual factors reported in 1998 on short-term and long-term sickness absence from MSD reported in 2000.
MSD accounted for 45% of all working days lost the year prior to follow-up in 2000. Blue-collar workers had significantly higher risk than white-collar workers for both short- and long-term sickness absence from MSD (long-term sickness absence: RR = 3.04, 95% CI 2.08–4.45). Widespread and low back pain in 1998 significantly predicted both short- and long-term sickness absence in 2000. In addition, shoulder pain predicted long-term sickness absence. Low social support predicted short-term sickness absence (RR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.11–1.49).
Reducing sickness absence from MSD among industrial workers requires focusing on the working conditions of blue-collar workers and risk factors for low back pain and widespread pain. Increasing social support in the work environment may have effects in reducing short-term sickness absence from MSD.
sickness absence; musculoskeletal disorders; low back pain; widespread pain; blue-collar workers; social support
The primary aim of this study was to investigate the association between BMI and musculoskeletal symptoms in interaction with physical workload. In addition, it was aimed to obtain insight into whether overweight and obesity are associated with an increase in occurrence of symptoms and/or decrease in recovery from symptoms.
Based on a large working population sample (n = 44,793), using the data from The Netherlands Working Conditions Survey (NWCS), logistic regression analyses were carried out to investigate the association between BMI and musculoskeletal symptoms, with adjustment for potential confounders. Longitudinal data from the Netherlands Working Conditions Cohort Study (NWCCS) of 7,909 respondents was used for the second research aim (i.e., to investigate the transition in musculoskeletal symptoms).
For high BMI an increased 12-month prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms was found (overweight: OR 1.13, 95% CI: 1.08-1.19 and obesity: OR 1.28, 95% CI: 1.19-1.39). The association was modified by physical workload, with a stronger association for employees with low physical workload than for those with high physical workload. Obesity was related to developing musculoskeletal symptoms (OR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.05-1.79) and inversely related to recovery from symptoms (OR 0.76, 95% CI: 0.59-0.97).
BMI was associated with musculoskeletal symptoms, in particular symptoms of the lower extremity. Furthermore, the association differed for employees with high or low physical workload. Compared to employees with normal weight, obese employees had higher risk for developing symptoms as well as less recovery from symptoms. This study supports the role of biomechanical factors for the relationship between BMI and symptoms in the lower extremity.
Musculoskeletal disorders; Overweight/obesity; Physical workload; Worker population
Among blue-collar workers, high physical work demands are generally considered to be the main cause of musculoskeletal pain and work disability. However, current available research on this topic has been criticised for using self-reported data, cross-sectional design, insufficient adjustment for potential confounders, and inadequate follow-up on the recurrent and fluctuating pattern of musculoskeletal pain. Recent technological advances have provided possibilities for objective diurnal field measurements of physical activities and frequent follow-up on musculoskeletal pain.
The main aim of this paper is to describe the background, design, methods, limitations and perspectives of the Danish Physical Activity cohort with Objective measurements (DPhacto) investigating the association between objectively measured physical activities capturing work and leisure time and frequent measurements of musculoskeletal pain among blue-collar workers.
Approximately 2000 blue-collar workers are invited for the study and asked to respond to a baseline questionnaire, participate in physical tests (i.e. muscle strength, aerobic fitness, back muscle endurance and flexibility), to wear accelerometers and a heart rate monitor for four consecutive days, and finally respond to monthly text messages regarding musculoskeletal pain and quarterly questionnaires regarding the consequences of musculoskeletal pain on work activities, social activities and work ability for a one-year follow-up period.
This study will provide novel information on the association between physical activities at work and musculoskeletal pain. The study will provide valid and precise documentation about the relation between physical work activities and musculoskeletal pain and its consequences among blue-collar workers.
Diurnal measurements; Accelerometry; Musculoskeletal disorders; Physical exposure; Heart rate monitoring; Work ability; Productivity; Sickness absence, repeated pain measurement; DPhacto, Acti4
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
Complaints of arm, neck and shoulder are a major health problem in Western societies and a huge economic burden due to sickness absence and health-care costs. In 2003 the 12-month prevalence’s in the Netherlands were estimated at 31.4% for neck pain, 30.3% for shoulder pain, and 17.5% for wrist and hand pain. Research data suggest that these complaints are increasingly common among university students. The aims of the present study are to provide insight into the prevalence of complaints of arm, neck or shoulder in a university population, to evaluate the clinical course of these complaints and to identify prognostic factors which influence this course.
The present study is designed as a prospective cohort study, in which a cross-sectional survey is embedded. A self-administered cross-sectional survey will be conducted to gain insight into the prevalence of complaints of arm, neck or shoulder among university students and staff, and to identify persons who are eligible for follow up in the prognostic cohort study. Patients with a new complaint of pain and discomfort in neck and upper extremities between 18–65 years will be asked to participate in the prognostic cohort study. At baseline, after 6, 12, 26 and 52 weeks individual patient data will be collected by means of digitized self-administered questionnaires. The following putative prognostic determinants will be investigated: socio-demographic factors, work-related factors, complaint characteristics, physical activity and psychosocial factors.
The primary outcome is subjective recovery. Secondary outcomes are functional limitations of the arm, neck, shoulder and hand, and complaint severity during the previous week.
To our knowledge, this is the first prognostic study on the course of complaints of arm, neck or shoulder that is conducted within a university population. Moreover, there are hardly any studies that have estimated the prevalence of these complaints among university students. The results of this study can be used for patient education and management decisions, as well as for the development of interventions. Moreover, identification of high risk groups in the population is needed to generate hypotheses or explanations of health differences and for the design of prevention programs.
CANS; Upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders; Prevalence; Prognostic factors; Course; Cohort study; Survey
The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain is high among healthcare workers. Knowledge about risk factors at work is needed to efficiently target preventive strategies. This study estimates the prognosis for recovery from long-term musculoskeletal pain in different body regions among healthcare workers with different levels of perceived physical exertion during healthcare work.
Prospective cohort study among 4,977 Danish female healthcare workers responding to a baseline and follow-up questionnaire in 2005 and 2006, respectively. We defined long-term pain, short-term pain and pain-free as > 30, 1–30 and 0 days with pain during the last year, and included in the analyses only those with long-term pain at baseline in the low back (N=1,089), neck/shoulder (N=1,400) and knees (N = 579), respectively. Using cumulative logistic regression analysis, the prognosis for recovering from long-term pain at baseline to short-term pain or pain-free at follow-up in the respective body regions when experiencing moderate or light (reference: strenuous) physical exertion during healthcare work was modeled.
Among those with long-term pain at baseline 34% (low back), 29% (neck/shoulders), and 29% (knees) recovered to short-term pain at follow-up and 7% (low back), 8% (neck/shoulders), and 17% (knees) recovered to being pain-free. After adjusting for potential confounders (age, BMI, tenure, smoking status, leisure physical activity and psychosocial work conditions), light perceived physical exertion during healthcare work was associated with improved prognosis for recovery from long-term pain in the low back (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.01 – 1.99) and neck/shoulders (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.43 – 2.50), but not in the knees. Moderate physical exertion was not associated with improved prognosis for recovery from long-term pain for any of the body regions.
In the present study, healthcare workers with light perceived physical exertion during healthcare work had the best prognosis for recovery from long-term pain in the low back and neck/shoulders. This suggests that efforts to reduce perceived exertion during work may improve recovery from chronic pain.
Chronic pain; Musculoskeletal disorders; Neck pain; Back pain; Knee pain; Risk factors; Longitudinal; Eldercare
Low back pain (LBP) represents a major socioeconomic burden for the Western societies. Both life-style and work-related factors may cause low back pain. Prospective cohort studies assessing risk factors among individuals without prior history of low back pain are lacking. This aim of this study was to determine risk factors for developing low back pain (LBP) among health care workers.
Prospective cohort study with 2,235 newly educated female health care workers without prior history of LBP. Risk factors and incidence of LBP were assessed at one and two years after graduation.
Multinomial logistic regression analyses adjusted for age, smoking, and psychosocial factors showed that workers with high physical work load had higher risk for developing LBP than workers with low physical work load (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.1–2.8). In contrast, workers with high BMI were not at a higher risk for developing LBP than workers with a normal BMI.
Preventive initiatives for LBP among health care workers ought to focus on reducing high physical work loads rather than lowering excessive body weight.
Prospective cohort study; Low back pain; Physical work load; Health care work; Musculoskeletal disorders; Body mass index
Musculoskeletal disorders account for one third of the long-term absenteeism in Denmark and the number of individuals sick listed for more than four weeks is increasing. Compared to other diagnoses, patients with musculoskeletal diseases, including low back pain, are less likely to return to work after a period of sick leave. It seems that a multidisciplinary intervention, including cooperation between the health sector, the social sector and in the work place, has a positive effect on days off work due to musculoskeletal disorders and particularly low back pain. It is a challenge to coordinate this type of intervention, and the implementation of a return-to-work (RTW)-coordinator is suggested as an effective strategy in this process. The purpose of this paper is to describe the study protocol and present a new type of intervention, where the physiotherapist both has the role as RTW-coordinator and treating the patient.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is currently on-going. The RCT includes 770 patients with low back pain of minimum four weeks who are referred to an outpatient back centre. The study population consists of patients, who are sick-listed or at risk of sick-leave due to LBP. The control group is treated with usual care in a team of a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, a rheumatologist and a social worker employed at the centre. The Intervention group is treated with usual care and in addition intervention of a psychologist, an occupational physician, an ergonomist, a case manager from the municipal sickness benefit office, who has the authority in the actual case concerning sickness benefit payment and contact to the patients employer/work place. The treating physiotherapist is the RTW-coordinator. Outcome will be reported at the end of treatment as well as 6 and 12 months follow up. The primary outcome is number of days off work. Secondary outcomes are disability, pain, and quality of life. The study will follow the recommendations in CONSORT-statement in designing and reporting RCTs.
This large RCT is testing the effectiveness of a preventive intervention targeting patients on short term sick leave or at risk being sick listed because of low back pain. We have developed a novel multidisciplinary team structure using the treating physiotherapist as the return to work coordinator, and having the case manager from the municipal sickness benefit office participating in team meetings. The study has the potential to contribute to the knowledge about how to target the challenges in the treatment of LBP. The aim is to prevent sickness absence and labour market exclusion - both on the individual level and economic costs at community level. Short term results will be available in 2014.
This study is approved by the Danish Regional Ethics Committee (J.nr: H-C-2008-112) and is registered at.
Low back pain (LBP); Return to work (RTW); Sickness absence; Rehabilitation; Prevention; Multidisciplinary intervention; Coordination; Denmark
The musculoskeletal disorders in working population represent one of the most worrying work-related health issues at the present time and although the very great majority of available data on the subject focus on musculoskeletal disorders defined by anatomical site, a growing number of studies indicate the low prevalence of disorders strictly confined to a specific anatomical site. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence and characteristics of multisite musculoskeletal symptoms (multisite MS) in a large French working population.
This study was performed on surveillance data of the cross-sectional survey (2002–2005) conducted by a network of occupational physicians in the working population of the Loire Valley region (from 20 to 59 years old). Data concerning MS were collected in the waiting room of the occupational physicians by means of the self-administrated standardized NORDIC questionnaire.
The study population comprised 3,710 workers (2,162 men (58%) and 1,548 women (42%)) with a mean age of 38.4 years (standard deviation: 10.4 years). The prevalence of MS during the past 12 months was 83.8% with 95% confidence interval of [82.8-85.3] for men and 83.9% [82.0-85.7] for women. The prevalence of subacute MS (lasting at least 30 days) over the past 12 months was 32.8% [30.9-34.8] for men and 37.3% [34.9-39.7] for women. Two-thirds of workers reported MS in more than one anatomical site and about 20% reported MS lasting at least 30 days in more than one anatomical site. The anatomical sites most frequently associated with other MS were the upper back, hip, elbow and neck. The majority of these multisite MS were widespread, involving at least two of the three anatomical regions (upper limb, axial region and lower limb).
The frequency and extent of multisite MS reported by workers are considerable. Further research must be conducted in this field in order to provide a better understanding of the characteristics and determinants of these multisite MS.
Degenerative musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequent diseases occurring in adulthood, often impairing patients' functional mobility and physical activity. The aim of the present study was to investigate and compare the impact of three frequent degenerative musculoskeletal disorders -- knee osteoarthritis (knee OA), hip osteoarthritis (hip OA) and lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) -- on patients' walking ability.
The study included 120 participants, with 30 in each patient group and 30 healthy control individuals. A uniaxial accelerometer, the StepWatch™ Activity Monitor (Orthocare Innovations, Seattle, Washington, USA), was used to determine the volume (number of gait cycles per day) and intensity (gait cycles per minute) of walking ability. Non-parametric testing was used for all statistical analyses.
Both the volume and the intensity of walking ability were significantly lower among the patients in comparison with the healthy control individuals (p < 0.001). Patients with LSS spent 0.4 (IQR 2.8) min/day doing moderately intense walking (>50 gait cycles/min), which was significantly lower in comparison with patients with knee and hip OA at 2.5 (IQR 4.4) and 3.4 (IQR 16.1) min/day, respectively (p < 0.001). No correlations between demographic or anthropometric data and walking ability were found. No technical problems or measuring errors occurred with any of the measurements.
Patients with degenerative musculoskeletal disorders suffer limitations in their walking ability. Objective assessment of walking ability appeared to be an easy and feasible tool for measuring such limitations as it provides baseline data and objective information that are more precise than the patients' own subjective estimates. In everyday practice, objective activity assessment can provide feedback for clinicians regarding patients' performance during everyday life and the extent to which this confirms the results of clinical investigations. The method can also be used as a way of encouraging patients to develop a more active lifestyle.
Musculoskeletal disorders particularly in the back and lower extremities are common among marines. Here, movement-control tests are considered clinically useful for screening and follow-up evaluation. However, few studies have addressed the reliability of clinical tests, and no such published data exists for marines. The present aim was therefore to determine the inter- and intra-observer reliability of clinically convenient tests emphasizing movement control of the back and hip among marines. A secondary aim was to investigate the sensitivity and specificity of these clinical tests for discriminating musculoskeletal pain disorders in this group of military personnel.
This inter- and intra-observer reliability study used a test-retest approach with six standardized clinical tests focusing on movement control for back and hip. Thirty-three marines (age 28.7 yrs, SD 5.9) on active duty volunteered and were recruited. They followed an in-vivo observation test procedure that covered both low- and high-load (threshold) tasks relevant for marines on operational duty. Two independent observers simultaneously rated performance as “correct” or “incorrect” following a standardized assessment protocol. Re-testing followed 7–10 days thereafter. Reliability was analysed using kappa (κ) coefficients, while discriminative power of the best-fitting tests for back- and lower-extremity pain was assessed using a multiple-variable regression model.
Inter-observer reliability for the six tests was moderate to almost perfect with κ-coefficients ranging between 0.56-0.95. Three tests reached almost perfect inter-observer reliability with mean κ-coefficients > 0.81. However, intra-observer reliability was fair-to-moderate with mean κ-coefficients between 0.22-0.58. Three tests achieved moderate intra-observer reliability with κ-coefficients > 0.41. Combinations of one low- and one high-threshold test best discriminated prior back pain, but results were inconsistent for lower-extremity pain.
Our results suggest that clinical tests of movement control of back and hip are reliable for use in screening protocols using several observers with marines. However, test-retest reproducibility was less accurate, which should be considered in follow-up evaluations. The results also indicate that combinations of low- and high-threshold tests have discriminative validity for prior back pain, but were inconclusive for lower-extremity pain.
Military; Motor control; Reproducibility; Screening; Sensitivity; Specificity; Validity
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
In Canada, new models of orthopaedic care involving advanced practice physiotherapists (APP) are being implemented. In these new models, aimed at improving the efficiency of care for patients with musculoskeletal disorders, APPs diagnose, triage and conservatively treat patients. Formal validation of the efficiency and appropriateness of these emerging models is scarce. The purpose of this study is to assess the diagnostic agreement of an APP compared to orthopaedic surgeons as well as to assess treatment concordance, healthcare resource use, and patient satisfaction in this new model.
120 patients presenting for an initial consult for hip or knee complaints in an outpatient orthopaedic hospital clinic in Montreal, Canada, were independently assessed by an APP and by one of three participating orthopaedic surgeons. Each health care provider independently diagnosed the patients and provided triage recommendations (conservative or surgical management). Proportion of raw agreement and Cohen’s kappa were used to assess inter-rater agreement for diagnosis, triage, treatment recommendations and imaging tests ordered. Chi-Square tests were done in order to compare the type of conservative treatment recommendations made by the APP and the surgeons and Student t-tests to compare patient satisfaction between the two types of care.
The majority of patients assessed were female (54%), mean age was 54.1 years and 91% consulted for a knee complaint. The raw agreement proportion for diagnosis was 88% and diagnostic inter-rater agreement was very high (κ=0.86; 95% CI: 0.80-0.93). The triage recommendations (conservative or surgical management) raw agreement proportion was found to be 88% and inter-rater agreement for triage recommendation was high (κ=0.77; 95% CI: 0.65-0.88). No differences were found between providers with respect to imaging tests ordered (p≥0.05). In terms of conservative treatment recommendations made, the APP gave significantly more education and prescribed more NSAIDs, joint injections, exercises and supervised physiotherapy (p<0.05). Patient satisfaction was significantly higher for APP care than for the surgeons care (p<0.05).
The diagnoses and triage recommendations for patients with hip and knee disorders made by the APP were similar to the orthopaedic surgeons. These results provide evidence supporting the APP model for orthopaedic care.
Physiotherapist; Healthcare service research; Musculoskeletal diseases and professional autonomy