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1.  Does self-management for return to work increase the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation for chronic compensated musculoskeletal disorders? - Protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Musculoskeletal disorders are common and costly disorders to workers compensation and motor accident insurance systems and are a leading contributor to the burden of ill-health. In Australia, vocational rehabilitation is provided to workers to assist them to stay in, or return to work. Self-management training may be an innovative addition to improve health and employment outcomes from vocational rehabilitation.
Methods/Design
The research plan contains mixed methodology consisting of a single blind randomised controlled trial, an economic evaluation and qualitative research. Participants (n = 366) are volunteers with compensated musculoskeletal disorders of 3 months to 3 years in duration who were working at the time of the injury/onset of the chronic disorder. The trial tests the effectiveness of usual vocational rehabilitation plus the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) to which two additional and newly-developed modules have been added, against vocational rehabilitation alone (control) The modules added to the CDSMP focus on how to navigate through compensation systems and manage the return to work process, and aim to be relevant to those in a vocational rehabilitation setting.
The primary outcome of this study is readiness for return to work which will be evaluated using the Readiness for Return-to-Work scale. Secondary outcomes include return to work status, health efficacy (heiQ™ questionnaire) and general health status (SF-12v2® Health Survey). Measures will be taken at baseline, immediately post-intervention and at 6- and 12- months post-intervention by an independent assessor. An economic evaluation will compare the costs and outcomes between the intervention and control groups in terms of cost-effectiveness and a partial cost-benefit or cost analysis. The impact of the intervention will also be evaluated qualitatively, in terms of its acceptability to stakeholders.
Discussion
This article describes the protocol for a single blind randomised controlled trial with a one year follow-up. The results will provide evidence for the addition or not of self-management training within vocational rehabilitation for chronic compensated musculoskeletal disorders.
Trial Registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609000843257
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-115
PMCID: PMC2893451  PMID: 20534168
2.  Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders among Nurses in Ibadan, South-west Nigeria: a cross-sectional survey 
Background
Musculoskeletal disorders represent a significant occupational problem among nurses; however, data on musculoskeletal health of nurses in Sub-Sahara Africa are sparse. This study sought to determine the lifetime, 12-months period and point prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs); the associated job risk factors and the coping strategies toward reducing the risk among nurses from selected hospitals in Ibadan, South-west Nigeria
Methods
A previously validated self administered questionnaire which sought information on demographics, prevalence and pattern of WMSDs, associated job risk factors and coping strategies was employed as the survey instrument. A total of 160 questionnaires were distributed to nurses in the different hospitals but 128 questionnaires were returned yielding an 80% response rate. 10 of the returned questionnaires were excluded because of incomplete data.
Results
Eighty-four point four percent of the nurses have had WMSDs once or more in their occupational lives. The 12-months period and point prevalence rate of WMSDs at any body region was 78% and 66.1% respectively. WMSDs occurred mostly in low back (44.1%), neck (28.0%), and knees (22.4%). 30.3% treated themselves or had visited other health practitioners for care. Nurses with > 20 years of clinical experience are about 4 times more likely to develop WMSDs (OR 3.81; CI 1.08-13.4) than those with 11-20 years experience. Working in the same positions for long periods (55.1%), lifting or transferring dependent patients (50.8%) and treating an excessive number of patients in one day (44.9%) were the most perceived job risk factors for WMSDs. Getting help in handling heavy patients (50.4%), modification of nursing procedures in order to avoid re-injury (45.4%), and modifying patient's/nurse position (40.3%) were the top three coping strategies.
Conclusions
A high proportion of Nigerian nurses reported WMSDs at some body site in their occupational lives with the low back being injured most often. Education programmes on prevention and coping strategies for musculoskeletal disorders are recommended for nurses in order to reduce the rate of occupational hazards and also promote efficiency in patient care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-12
PMCID: PMC2823665  PMID: 20089139
3.  Aetiology and risk factors of musculoskeletal disorders in physically active conscripts: a follow-up study in the Finnish Defence Forces 
Background
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the main reason for morbidity during military training. MSDs commonly result in functional impairment leading to premature discharge from military service and disabilities requiring long-term rehabilitation. The purpose of the study was to examine associations between various risk factors and MSDs with special attention to the physical fitness of the conscripts.
Methods
Two successive cohorts of 18 to 28-year-old male conscripts (N = 944, median age 19) were followed for six months. MSDs, including overuse and acute injuries, treated at the garrison clinic were identified and analysed. Associations between MSDs and risk factors were examined by multivariate Cox's proportional hazard models.
Results
During the six-month follow-up of two successive cohorts there were 1629 MSDs and 2879 health clinic visits due to MSDs in 944 persons. The event-based incidence rate for MSD was 10.5 (95% confidence interval (CI): 10.0-11.1) per 1000 person-days. Most MSDs were in the lower extremities (65%) followed by the back (18%). The strongest baseline factors associated with MSDs were poor result in the combined outcome of a 12-minute running test and back lift test (hazard ratio (HR) 2.9; 95% CI: 1.9-4.6), high waist circumference (HR 1.7; 95% CI: 1.3-2.2), high body mass index (HR 1.8; 95% CI: 1.3-2.4), poor result in a 12-minute running test (HR 1.6; 95% CI: 1.2-2.2), earlier musculoskeletal symptoms (HR 1.7; 95% CI: 1.3-2.1) and poor school success (educational level and grades combined; HR 2.0; 95% CI: 1.3-3.0). In addition, risk factors of long-term MSDs (≥10 service days lost due to one or several MSDs) were analysed: poor result in a 12-minute running test, earlier musculoskeletal symptoms, high waist circumference, high body mass index, not belonging to a sports club and poor result in the combined outcome of the 12-minute running test and standing long jump test were strongly associated with long-term MSDs.
Conclusions
The majority of the observed risk factors are modifiable and favourable for future interventions. An appropriate intervention based on the present study would improve both aerobic and muscular fitness prior to conscript training. Attention to appropriate waist circumference and body mass index would strengthen the intervention. Effective results from well-planned randomised controlled studies are needed before initiating large-scale prevention programmes in a military environment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-146
PMCID: PMC2911403  PMID: 20602765
4.  Prevalence, characteristics, and impacts of work-related musculoskeletal disorders: a survey among physical therapists in the State of Kuwait 
Background
Physical therapists working in the State of Kuwait are at risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). However, prevalence rates and risk factors are not well documented. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence, characteristics, and impacts of WMSDs among physical therapists in the State of Kuwait.
Methods
A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 350 physical therapists. The questionnaire gathered demographic data as well as information on occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints in the previous 12 months. Descriptive statistics, frequency, and Chi-square analyses were used.
Results
The response rate to the questionnaire was 63% (222/350). Of the 212 responders included in the study, the one-year prevalence of WMSDs was 47.6%, with lower back complaints as the most common (32%). This was followed by neck (21%), upper back (19%), shoulder (13%), hand/wrist (11%), knee (11%), ankle/foot (6%), elbow (4%), and hip/thigh (3%) complaints. The frequency of WMSDs was not gender related (except lower back, neck, and shoulder complaints) nor was it related to age (except lower back complaints), working venues (except hand/wrist), working hours, area of specialty, or exercise. WMSDs' impact on work was minor.
Conclusions
WMSDs among physical therapists in Kuwait were common, with lower back and neck affected most. Lower back and neck WMSDs were related to the participant's demographics. Hand/wrist WMSDs were related to work settings. Further research is needed to investigate the effect of risk factors as physical load, psychosocial load, and general health status on prevalence musculoskeletal disorders.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-116
PMCID: PMC2905326  PMID: 20540724
5.  Computer work and musculoskeletal disorders of the neck and upper extremity: A systematic review 
Background
This review examines the evidence for an association between computer work and neck and upper extremity disorders (except carpal tunnel syndrome).
Methods
A systematic critical review of studies of computer work and musculoskeletal disorders verified by a physical examination was performed.
Results
A total of 22 studies (26 articles) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Results show limited evidence for a causal relationship between computer work per se, computer mouse and keyboard time related to a diagnosis of wrist tendonitis, and for an association between computer mouse time and forearm disorders. Limited evidence was also found for a causal relationship between computer work per se and computer mouse time related to tension neck syndrome, but the evidence for keyboard time was insufficient. Insufficient evidence was found for an association between other musculoskeletal diagnoses of the neck and upper extremities, including shoulder tendonitis and epicondylitis, and any aspect of computer work.
Conclusions
There is limited epidemiological evidence for an association between aspects of computer work and some of the clinical diagnoses studied. None of the evidence was considered as moderate or strong and there is a need for more and better documentation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-79
PMCID: PMC2874766  PMID: 20429925
6.  Cost-effectiveness of a participatory return-to-work intervention for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders: design of a randomised controlled trial 
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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.
Discussion
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
Trial registration number: NTR1047.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-60
PMCID: PMC2858719  PMID: 20346183
7.  Walking ability during daily life in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or the hip and lumbar spinal stenosis: a cross sectional study 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-233
PMCID: PMC2958990  PMID: 20939866
8.  MRI-identified abnormalities and wrist range of motion in asymptomatic versus symptomatic computer users 
Background
Previous work has shown an association between restricted wrist range of motion (ROM) and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders in computer users. We compared the prevalence of MRI-identified wrist abnormalities and wrist ROM between asymptomatic and symptomatic computer users.
Methods
MR images at 1.5 T of both wrists were obtained from 10 asymptomatic controls (8 F, 2 M) and 14 computer users (10 F, 4 M) with chronic wrist pain (10 bilateral; 4 right-side). Maximum wrist range of motion in flexion and radioulnar deviation was measured with an electrogoniometer.
Results
Extraosseous ganglia were identified in 66.6% of asymptomatic wrists and in 75% of symptomatic wrists. Intraosseous ganglia were identified in 45.8% of asymptomatic wrists and in 75% of symptomatic wrists, and were significantly (p < .05) larger in the symptomatic wrists. Distal ECU tendon instability was identified in 58.4% of both asymptomatic and symptomatic wrists. Dominant wrist flexion was significantly greater in the asymptomatic group (68.8 ± 6.7 deg.) compared to the symptomatic group (60.7 ± 7.3 deg.), p < .01. There was no significant correlation between wrist flexion and intraosseous ganglion burden (p = .09)
Conclusions
This appears to be the first MRI study of wrist abnormalities in computer users.
This study demonstrates that a variety of wrist abnormalities are common in computer users and that only intraosseous ganglia prevalence and size differed between asymptomatic and symptomatic wrists. Flexion was restricted in the dominant wrist of the symptomatic group, but the correlation between wrist flexion and intraosseous ganglion burden did not reach significance. Flexion restriction may be an indicator of increased joint loading, and identifying the cause may help to guide preventive and therapeutic interventions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-273
PMCID: PMC2998464  PMID: 21108817
9.  The Key Indicator Method for Manual Handling Operations (KIM-MHO) - evaluation of a new method for the assessment of working conditions within a cross-sectional study 
Background
Upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders are common in the working population. The economic and social impact of such disorders is considerable. Long-time, dynamic repetitive exposure of the hand-arm system during manual handling operations (MHO) alone or in combination with static and postural effort are recognised as causes of musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders. The assessment of these manual work tasks is crucial to estimate health risks of exposed employees. For these work tasks, a new method for the assessment of the working conditions was developed by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and released as a draft in the year 2007. The draft of the so-called Key Indicator Method for Manual Handling Operations (KIM-MHO) was developed in analogy with the existing KIM for Lifting/Holding/Carrying (KIM-LHC) and Pulling/Pushing (KIM-PP) of loads. The KIM-MHO is designed to fill the gap existing in risk assessment of manual work processes, since the existing KIMs deal only with manual handling of loads.
This research project focused on the following:
- Examination of the validity of workplace assessment with the KIM-MHO comparing expert ratings with the results of the observations.
- Examination of the objectivity of workplace assessment with the KIM-MHO applied by different examiners.
- Examination of the criterion validity of the risk assessment provided by KIM-MHO with respect to the association between exposure and the occurrence and prevalence of health related outcomes.
Methods/Design
To determine the objectivity and validity of workplace assessment, the KIM-MHO is applied by occupational health and safety officers at different workplaces involving manual handling operations.
To determine the criterion validity of risk assessment, a survey of employees at different workplaces takes place with standardised questionnaires and interviews about symptoms in the neck and upper extremities. In addition, physical examinations of these employees following a standardised medical diagnostic procedure are also carried out.
Discussion
This research project will provide scientific evaluation of the new KIM-MHO and, if necessary, indicate areas for modification to improve this new method for assessment of the health risk of manual handling operations at diverse workplaces.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-272
PMCID: PMC3003632  PMID: 21108790
10.  Pressure pain sensitivity maps of the neck-shoulder and the low back regions in men and women 
Background
Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and neck-shoulder regions is a major problem among the working population all over the world. The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain is found to be higher among women. Women also have lower pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) than men. Pressure pain topography aims at mapping the spatial distribution of PPT within a muscle in an attempt to track changes in mechanical sensitivity. In order to assess gender differences in the pain topography, it is necessary to map the distribution in both healthy men and women. The aim of this study was to assess PPT maps from the cervico-thoracic and lumbar regions in men and women.
Methods
Eleven men and eleven women without any known musculoskeletal disorders participated in the study. PPT was measured twice at 36 points over the trapezius muscle of the dominant arm, at 36 points over the trapezius muscle on the contralateral side and at 12 points over the spine between the left and right trapezius. Further, 11 points were measured over the erector spinae muscle on the left side of the spine between the first and the fifth lumbar vertebrae, 11 on the right side and 5 points on the spine itself. The measurements on each trapezius muscle were divided according to anatomical subdivisions. Three-way and two-way ANOVAs were used to analyse the differences in PPTs with the following factors: gender, locations and sub-divisions (only for cervico-thoracic region).
Results
There were no differences between left and right side in neither the cervico-thoracic nor the lumbar region, but there were (large effect) differences between the subdivisions in the trapezius with the lowest values in the upper part (P < 0.001; partial η2 = 0.19). Women had (small effect) lower PPT in both cervico-thoracic and lumbar regions (P ≤ 0.001; partial η2 = 0.02 for both regions), but gender had no effect on neither location nor subdivisions.
Conclusions
The pain topography was not found to be different between genders in the cervico-thoracic and lumbar regions. This study can be used as basis for further clinical studies on musculoskeletal disorders.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-234
PMCID: PMC2964538  PMID: 20939890
11.  The associations between indices of patellofemoral geometry and knee pain and patella cartilage volume: a cross-sectional study 
Background
Whilst patellofemoral pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders presenting to orthopaedic clinics, sports clinics, and general practices, factors contributing to its development in the absence of a defined arthropathy, such as osteoarthritis (OA), are unclear.
The aim of this cross-sectional study was to describe the relationships between parameters of patellofemoral geometry (patella inclination, sulcus angle and patella height) and knee pain and patella cartilage volume.
Methods
240 community-based adults aged 25-60 years were recruited to take part in a study of obesity and musculoskeletal health. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the dominant knee was used to determine the lateral condyle-patella angle, sulcus angle, and Insall-Salvati ratio, as well as patella cartilage and bone volumes. Pain was assessed by the Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) VA pain subscale.
Results
Increased lateral condyle-patella angle (increased medial patella inclination) was associated with a reduction in WOMAC pain score (Regression coefficient -1.57, 95% CI -3.05, -0.09) and increased medial patella cartilage volume (Regression coefficient 51.38 mm3, 95% CI 1.68, 101.08 mm3). Higher riding patella as indicated by increased Insall-Salvati ratio was associated with decreased medial patella cartilage volume (Regression coefficient -3187 mm3, 95% CI -5510, -864 mm3). There was a trend for increased lateral patella cartilage volume associated with increased (shallower) sulcus angle (Regression coefficient 43.27 mm3, 95% CI -2.43, 88.98 mm3).
Conclusion
These results suggest both symptomatic and structural benefits associated with a more medially inclined patella while a high-riding patella may be detrimental to patella cartilage. This provides additional theoretical support for the current use of corrective strategies for patella malalignment that are aimed at medial patella translation, although longitudinal studies will be needed to further substantiate this.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-87
PMCID: PMC2881017  PMID: 20459700
12.  Validity and inter-rater reliability of medio-lateral knee motion observed during a single-limb mini squat 
Background
Muscle function may influence the risk of knee injury and outcomes following injury. Clinical tests, such as a single-limb mini squat, resemble conditions of daily life and are easy to administer. Fewer squats per 30 seconds indicate poorer function. However, the quality of movement, such as the medio-lateral knee motion may also be important. The aim was to validate an observational clinical test of assessing the medio-lateral knee motion, using a three-dimensional (3-D) motion analysis system. In addition, the inter-rater reliability was evaluated.
Methods
Twenty-five (17 women) non-injured participants (mean age 25.6 years, range 18-37) were included. Visual analysis of the medio-lateral knee motion, scored as knee-over-foot or knee-medial-to-foot by two raters, and 3-D kinematic data were collected simultaneously during a single-limb mini squat. Frontal plane 2-D peak tibial, thigh, and knee varus-valgus angles, and 3-D peak hip internal-external rotation, and knee varus-valgus angles were calculated.
Results
Ten subjects were scored as having a knee-medial-to-foot position and 15 subjects a knee-over-foot position assessed by visual inspection. In 2-D, the peak tibial angle (mean 89.0 (SE 0.7) vs mean 86.3 (SE 0.4) degrees, p = 0.001) and peak thigh angle (mean 77.4 (SE 1.0) vs mean 81.2 (SE 0.5) degrees, p = 0.001) with respect to the horizontal, indicated that the knee was more medially placed than the ankle and thigh, respectively. Thus, the knee was in more valgus (mean 11.6 (SE 1.5) vs 5.0 (SE 0.8) degrees, p < 0.001) in subjects with the knee-medial-to-foot than in those with a knee-over-foot position. In 3-D, the hip was more internally rotated in those with a knee-medial-to-foot than in those with a knee-over-foot position (mean 10.6 (SE 2.1) vs 4.8 (SE 1.8) degrees, p = 0.049), but there was no difference in knee valgus (mean 6.1 (SE 1.8) vs mean 5.0 (SE 1.2) degrees, p = 0.589). The kappa value and percent agreement, respectively, was >0.90 and 96 between raters.
Conclusions
Medio-lateral motion of the knee can reliably be assessed during a single-leg mini-squat. The test is valid in 2-D, while the actual movement, in 3-D, is mainly exhibited as increased internal hip rotation. The single-limb mini squat is feasible and easy to administer in the clinical setting and in research to address lower extremity movement quality.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-265
PMCID: PMC2998461  PMID: 21080945
13.  An educational approach based on a non-injury model compared with individual symptom-based physical training in chronic LBP. A pragmatic, randomised trial with a one-year follow-up 
Background
In the treatment of chronic back pain, cognitive methods are attracting increased attention due to evidence of effectiveness similar to that of traditional therapies. The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of performing a cognitive intervention based on a non-injury model with that of a symptom-based physical training method on the outcomes of low back pain (LBP), activity limitation, LBP attitudes (fear-avoidance beliefs and back beliefs), physical activity levels, sick leave, and quality of life, in chronic LBP patients.
Methods
The study was a pragmatic, single-blind, randomised, parallel-group trial. Patients with chronic/recurrent LBP were randomised to one of the following treatments: 1. Educational programme : the emphasis was on creating confidence that the back is strong, that loads normally do not cause any damage despite occasional temporary pain, that reducing the focus on the pain might facilitate more natural and less painful movements, and that it is beneficial to stay physically active. 2. Individual symptom-based physical training programme : directional-preference exercises for those centralising their pain with repetitive movements; 'stabilising exercises' for those deemed 'unstable' based on specific tests; or intensive dynamic exercises for the remaining patients. Follow-up questionnaires (examiner-blinded) were completed at 2, 6 and 12 months. The main statistical test was an ANCOVA adjusted for baseline values.
Results
A total of 207 patients participated with the median age of 39 years (IQR 33-47); 52% were female, 105 were randomised to the educational programme and 102 to the physical training programme. The two groups were comparable at baseline. For the primary outcome measures, there was a non-significant trend towards activity limitation being reduced mostly in the educational programme group, although of doubtful clinical relevance. Regarding secondary outcomes, improvement in fear-avoidance beliefs was also better in the educational programme group. All other variables were about equally influenced by the two treatments. The median number of treatment sessions was 3 for the educational programme group and 6 for the physical training programme group.
Conclusions
An educational approach to treatment for chronic LBP resulted in at least as good outcomes as a symptom-based physical training method, despite fewer treatment sessions.
Trial registration
Clinicaltrials.gov: # NCT00410319
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-212
PMCID: PMC2954985  PMID: 20849601
14.  Prevalence of diagnosis and direct treatment costs of back disorders in 644,773 children and youths in Germany 
Background
Many authors have reported about the high prevalence rates of self-reported back pain in children. Nevertheless, little is known about the diagnosis of back disorders - regardless of whether the diagnosis is associated with back pain or not. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyse the prevalence rates and costs of diagnosis of back disorders in childhood and youth.
Methods
We conducted a secondary data analysis of a large, population based German data set (2,300,980 insurants of statutory health insurance funds) which allowed for identification of prevalence rates of diagnoses of back disorders in children (age group 0-14 years) and youths (age group 15-24 years) using three digit ICD-10 codes for dorsopathies (M40 - M54: kyphosis and lordosis; scoliosis; spinal osteochondrosis; other deforming dorsopathies; ankylosing spondylitis; other inflammatory spondylopathies; spondylosis; other spondylopathies; spondylopathies in diseases classified elsewhere; cervical disc disorders; other intervertebral disc disorders; other dorsopathies, not elsewhere classified; dorsalgia). Direct treatment costs were calculated based on the real incurred costs for cases with a singular diagnosis of a back disorder. Wherever possible, the results of the random sample were extrapolated to all insurants of statutory health insurance funds (i. e., about 90% of the German population).
Results
We found prevalence rates for the diagnosis of back disorders to range between 0.01 - 12.5%. "Scoliosis" (M41) and "dorsalgia" (M54) were the most frequent diagnoses in both age groups. Based on these results, it was calculated that in 2002 alone, approximately 1.4 million children/youths in Germany were diagnosed with "dorsalgia" (M54), and that the direct costs for back disorders in childhood and youth accounted for at least 100 million Euros.
Conclusions
Instead of focusing on the individual, and self-reported disorder or disability, this analysis allowed for the detailed evaluation of medical experts' opinion on back disorders in childhood and youth and for a more objective or public health oriented insight in the topic of diagnosis of back pain and other back disorders. However, due to the methodological limitations by using ICD-10 coding, standardized random validity checks of population based data sets should be mandatory.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-193
PMCID: PMC2936886  PMID: 20799982
15.  Protocol for Work place adjusted Intelligent physical exercise reducing Musculoskeletal pain in Shoulder and neck (VIMS): a cluster randomized controlled trial 
Background
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.
Methods/design
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.
Trial Registration
The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01027390.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-173
PMCID: PMC2921353  PMID: 20687940
16.  How reliable is MRI in diagnosing cartilaginous lesions in patients with first and recurrent lateral patellar dislocations? 
Background
Lateral dislocation of the patella (LPD) leads to cartilaginous injuries, which have been reported to be associated with retropatellar complaints and the development of patellofemoral osteoarthritis. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the reliability of MRI for cartilage diagnostics after a first and recurrent LPD.
Methods
After an average of 4.7 days following an acute LPD, 40 patients (21 with first LPDs and 19 with recurrent LPDs) underwent standardized 1.5 Tesla MRI (sagittal T1-TSE, coronal STIR-TSE, transversal fat-suppressed PD-TSE, sagittal fat-suppressed PD-TSE). MRI grading was compared to arthroscopic assessment of the cartilage.
Results
Sensitivities and positive predictive values for grade 3 and 4 lesions were markedly higher in the patient group with first LPDs compared to the group with recurrent LPDs. Similarly, intra- and inter-observer agreement yielded higher kappa values in patients with first LPDs compared to those with recurrent LPDs. All grade 4 lesions affecting the subchondral bone (osteochondral defects), such as a fissuring or erosion, were correctly assessed on MRI.
Conclusions
This study demonstrated a comparatively good diagnostic performance for MRI in the evaluation of first and recurrent LPDs, and we therefore recommend MRI for the cartilage assessment after a LPD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-149
PMCID: PMC2906436  PMID: 20602779
17.  Relationships between postural orientation and self reported function, hop performance and muscle power in subjects with anterior cruciate ligament injury 
Background
Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is associated not only with knee instability and impaired neuromuscular control, but also with altered postural orientation manifested as observable "substitution patterns". However, tests currently used to evaluate knee function in subjects with ACL injury are not designed to assess postural orientation. Therefore, we are in the process of developing an observational test set that measures postural orientation in terms of the ability to stabilize body segments in relation to each other and to the environment. The aim of the present study was to characterise correlations between this novel test set, called the Test for Substitution Patterns (TSP) and commonly used tests of knee function.
Methods
In a blinded set-up, 53 subjects (mean age 30 years, range 20-39, with 2-5 years since ACL injury) were assessed using the TSP, the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score subscale sport/recreation (KOOS sport/rec), 3 hop tests and 3 muscle power tests. Correlations between the scores of the TSP and the other tests were determined.
Results
Moderate correlations were found between TSP scores and KOOS sport/rec (rs = -0.43; p = 0.001) and between TSP scores and hop test results (rs = -0.40 to -0.46; p ≤ 0.003), indicating that altered postural orientation was associated with worse self-reported KOOS sport/rec function and worse hop performance. No significant correlations were found between TSP scores and muscle power results. Subjects had higher TSP scores on their injured side than on their uninjured side (median 4 and 1 points; interquartile range 2-6 and 0-1.5, respectively; p < 0.0001).
Conclusions
We conclude that the Test for Substitution Patterns is of relevance to the patient and measures a specific aspect of neuromuscular control not quantified by the other tests investigated. We suggest that the TSP may be a valuable complement in the assessment of neuromuscular control in the rehabilitation of subjects with ACL injury.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-143
PMCID: PMC2908077  PMID: 20594339
18.  Feasibility of neuromuscular training in patients with severe hip or knee OA: The individualized goal-based NEMEX-TJR training program 
Background
Although improvements are achieved by general exercise, training to improve sensorimotor control may be needed for people with osteoarthritis (OA). The aim was to apply the principles of neuromuscular training, which have been successfully used in younger and middle-aged patients with knee injuries, to older patients with severe hip or knee OA. We hypothesized that the training program was feasible, determined as: 1) at most acceptable self-reported pain following training; 2) decreased or unchanged pain during the training period; 3) few joint specific adverse events related to training, and 4) achieved progression of training level during the training period.
Methods
Seventy-six patients, between 60 and 77 years, with severe hip (n = 38, 55% women) or knee OA (n = 38, 61% women) underwent an individualized, goal-based neuromuscular training program (NEMEX-TJR) in groups for a median of 11 weeks (quartiles 7 to 15) prior to total joint replacement (TJR). Pain was self-reported immediately after each training session on a 0 to 10 cm, no pain to pain as bad as it could be, scale, where 0-2 indicates safe, > 2 to 5 acceptable and > 5 high risk pain. Joint specific adverse events were: not attending or ceasing training because of increased pain/problems in the index joint related to training, and self-reported pain > 5 after training. The level of difficulty of training was registered.
Results
Patients with severe OA of the hip or knee reported safe pain (median 2 cm) after training. Self-reported pain was lower at training sessions 10 and 20 (p = 0.04) and unchanged at training sessions 5 and 15 (p = 0.170, p = 0.161) compared with training session 1. There were no joint specific adverse events in terms of not attending or ceasing training. Few patients (n = 17, 22%) reported adverse events in terms of self-reported pain > 5 after one or more training sessions. Progression of training level was achieved over time (p < 0.001).
Conclusions
The NEMEX-TJR training program is feasible in patients with severe hip or knee OA, in terms of safe self-reported pain following training, decreased or unchanged pain during the training period, few joint specific adverse events, and achieved progression of training level during the training period.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-126
PMCID: PMC2896351  PMID: 20565735
19.  Arthroscopy vs. MRI for a detailed assessment of cartilage disease in osteoarthritis: diagnostic value of MRI in clinical practice 
Background
In patients with osteoarthritis, a detailed assessment of degenerative cartilage disease is important to recommend adequate treatment. Using a representative sample of patients, this study investigated whether MRI is reliable for a detailed cartilage assessment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Methods
In a cross sectional-study as a part of a retrospective case-control study, 36 patients (mean age 53.1 years) with clinically relevant osteoarthritis received standardized MRI (sag. T1-TSE, cor. STIR-TSE, trans. fat-suppressed PD-TSE, sag. fat-suppressed PD-TSE, Siemens Magnetom Avanto syngo MR B 15) on a 1.5 Tesla unit. Within a maximum of three months later, arthroscopic grading of the articular surfaces was performed. MRI grading by two blinded observers was compared to arthroscopic findings. Diagnostic values as well as intra- and inter-observer values were assessed.
Results
Inter-observer agreement between readers 1 and 2 was good (kappa = 0.65) within all compartments. Intra-observer agreement comparing MRI grading to arthroscopic grading showed moderate to good values for readers 1 and 2 (kappa = 0.50 and 0.62, respectively), the poorest being within the patellofemoral joint (kappa = 0.32 and 0.52). Sensitivities were relatively low at all grades, particularly for grade 3 cartilage lesions. A tendency to underestimate cartilage disorders on MR images was not noticed.
Conclusions
According to our results, the use of MRI for precise grading of the cartilage in osteoarthritis is limited. Even if the practical benefit of MRI in pretreatment diagnostics is unequivocal, a diagnostic arthroscopy is of outstanding value when a grading of the cartilage is crucial for a definitive decision regarding therapeutic options in patients with osteoarthritis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-75
PMCID: PMC2873463  PMID: 20406481
20.  The COPE LBP trial: Cognitive Patient Education for Low Back Pain - a cluster randomized controlled trial in primary care 
Background
Non-specific low back pain (LBP) is usually self-limiting within 4-6 weeks. Longstanding pain and disability are not predictable from clinical signs or pathoanatomical findings. Pain cognition and physical performance have been shown to improve patients with chronic LBP following neurophysiological education. The primary aim of this study is to evaluate whether a specific cognitive based education programme for patients with LBP in primary care is more effective than normal care in terms of increased function. The secondary aims of the study are to evaluate whether this intervention also results in earlier return to work, decreased pain, increased patient satisfaction, increased quality-of-life, and cost utility.
Methods/Design
Cluster randomised controlled trial with 20 general practitioners and 20 physiotherapists in primary care as the unit of randomisation. Each practitioner will recruit up to 10 patients, aged 20 to 55 years, with non-specific sub-acute/chronic LBP of more than four weeks but less than 1 year's duration. Practitioners in the intervention arm will provide cognitive patient education intervention in up to four weekly sessions, each lasting 30 minutes. Practitioners in the control arm will provide normal treatment, but have to make four appointments for the patients. Patients, outcome assessors, and study statistician will be blinded to group allocation.
Discussion
We present the rationale and design of an ongoing RCT study that potentially offers an easily implemented treatment strategy for LBP patients in primary care. The results will be available in 2012.
Trial registration
ISRCTN04323845
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-33
PMCID: PMC2839981  PMID: 20158897
21.  Supervised and non-supervised Nordic walking in the treatment of chronic low back pain: a single blind randomized clinical trial 
Background
Active approaches including both specific and unspecific exercise are probably the most widely recommended treatment for patients with chronic low back pain but it is not known exactly which types of exercise provide the most benefit. Nordic Walking - power walking using ski poles - is a popular and fast growing type of exercise in Northern Europe that has been shown to improve cardiovascular metabolism. Until now, no studies have been performed to investigate whether Nordic Walking has beneficial effects in relation to back pain.
Methods
A total of 151 patients with low back and/or leg pain of greater than eight weeks duration were recruited from a hospital based outpatient back pain clinic. Patients continuing to have pain greater than three on the 11-point numeric rating scale after a multidisciplinary intervention were included. Fifteen patients were unable to complete the baseline evaluation and 136 patients were randomized to receive A) Nordic walking supervised by a specially trained instructor twice a week for eight weeks B) One-hour instruction in Nordic walking by a specially trained instructor followed by advice to perform Nordic walking at home as much as they liked for eight weeks or C) Individual oral information consisting of advice to remain active and about maintaining the daily function level that they had achieved during their stay at the backcenter. Primary outcome measures were pain and disability using the Low Back Pain Rating Scale, and functional limitation further assessed using the Patient Specific Function Scale. Furthermore, information on time off work, use of medication, and concurrent treatment for their low back pain was collected. Objective measurements of physical activity levels for the supervised and unsupervised Nordic walking groups were performed using accelerometers. Data were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis.
Results
No mean differences were found between the three groups in relation to any of the outcomes at baseline. For pain, disability, and patient specific function the supervised Nordic walking group generally faired best however no statistically significant differences were found. Regarding the secondary outcome measures, patients in the supervised group tended to use less pain medication, to seek less concurrent care for their back pain, at the eight-week follow-up. There was no difference between physical activity levels for the supervised and unsupervised Nordic walking groups. No negative side effects were reported.
Conclusion
We did not find statistically significant differences between eight weeks of supervised or unsupervised Nordic walking and advice to remain active in a group of chronic low back pain patients. Nevertheless, the greatest average improvement tended to favor the supervised Nordic walking group and - taking into account other health related benefits of Nordic walking - this form of exercise may potentially be of benefit to selected groups of chronic back pain patients.
Trial registration
http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov # NCT00209820
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-30
PMCID: PMC2831827  PMID: 20146793
22.  Menstrual irregularity and bone mass in premenopausal women: Cross-sectional associations with testosterone and SHBG 
Background
There have been few studies examining the associations between menstrual irregularity, androgens and bone mass in population-based samples of premenopausal women. This study aimed to describe the associations between menstrual pattern, testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and bone mass in a population-based sample of premenopausal women.
Methods
Cross-sectional study (N = 382, mean age 31.5 years). Menstrual pattern was assessed by questionnaire, bone mass measured by quantitative ultrasound (QUS) and androgen status was assessed by levels of serum testosterone, SHBG and the free androgen index (FAI).
Results
Women with irregular cycles (n = 41, 11%) had higher free androgen index (FAI, P = 0.01) and higher QUS measurements including speed of sound (SOS, 1%, P < 0.05), quantitative ultrasound index (QUI, 7%, p < 0.05), and broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA, 7%, p = 0.10). These associations persisted after adjustment for age and body mass index (BMI). After further adjustment for hormonal factors (either testosterone, SHBG or FAI), the strength of the associations was moderately attenuated, however, women with irregular cycles still had a 6% increase in mean QUS. Total testosterone, FAI and SHBG were also associated with QUS measures (testosterone and FAI, r +0.11 to +0.21, all p < 0.05; SHBG r -0.14 to -0.16, all p < 0.05) and the associations remained significant after adjustment.
Conclusion
Irregular menstrual cycles were associated with higher bone mass in this population-based sample of premenopausal women suggesting menstrual disturbance should continue to be evaluated but may be less harmful for bone mass. The association between menstrual irregularity and bone mass was partially mediated by markers of androgen status especially free testosterone.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-288
PMCID: PMC3022905  PMID: 21190585
23.  Early decrements in bone density after completion of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in pediatric bone sarcoma patients 
Background
Bone mineral density (BMD) accrual during childhood and adolescence is important for attaining peak bone mass. BMD decrements have been reported in survivors of childhood bone sarcomas. However, little is known about the onset and development of bone loss during cancer treatment. The objective of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate BMD in newly diagnosed Ewing's and osteosarcoma patients by means of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) after completion of neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Methods
DXA measurements of the lumbar spine (L2-4), both femora and calcanei were performed perioperatively in 46 children and adolescents (mean age: 14.3 years, range: 8.6-21.5 years). Mean Z-scores, areal BMD (g/cm2), calculated volumetric BMD (g/cm3) and bone mineral content (BMC, g) were determined.
Results
Lumbar spine mean Z-score was -0.14 (95% CI: -0.46 to 0.18), areal BMD was 1.016 g/cm2 (95% CI: 0.950 to 1.082) and volumetric BMD was 0.330 g/cm3 (95% CI: 0.314 to 0.347) which is comparable to healthy peers. For patients with a lower extremity tumor (n = 36), the difference between the affected and non-affected femoral neck was 12.1% (95% CI: -16.3 to -7.9) in areal BMD. The reduction of BMD was more pronounced in the calcaneus with a difference between the affected and contralateral side of 21.7% (95% CI: -29.3 to -14.0) for areal BMD. Furthermore, significant correlations for femoral and calcaneal DXA measurements were found with Spearman-rho coefficients ranging from ρ = 0.55 to ρ = 0.80.
Conclusions
The tumor disease located in the lower extremity in combination with offloading recommendations induced diminished BMD values, indicating local osteopenia conditions. However, the results revealed no significant decrements of lumbar spine BMD in pediatric sarcoma patients after completion of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Nevertheless, it has to be taken into account that bone tumor patients may experience BMD decrements or secondary osteoporosis in later life. Furthermore, the peripheral assessment of BMD in the calcaneus via DXA is a feasible approach to quantify bone loss in the lower extremity in bone sarcoma patients and may serve as an alternative procedure, when the established assessment of femoral BMD is not practicable due to endoprosthetic replacements.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-287
PMCID: PMC3022904  PMID: 21190557
24.  Outcome and clinical changes in patients 3, 6, 12 months after a severe or major hand injury - can sense of coherence be an indicator for rehabilitation focus? 
Background
Our objective was to explore outcome and clinical changes in hand function, satisfaction in daily occupations, sleep disturbances, health and quality of life in consecutive patients after a severe or major hand injury. Our objective was also to investigate possible differences between groups according to severity of injury, presence of peripheral nerve injury and the patients' sense of coherence.
Methods
A postal questionnaire, including demographic data, disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand (DASH), QoL (SF-36), EuroQol (EQ-5D VAS), hand function (VAS), satisfaction in daily occupation (SDO), was sent out 3, 6 and 12 months after injury to 45 consecutive patients with a severe or major hand injury. Sense of coherence (SOC) was evaluated at 6 months. For the descriptive study, non-parametric tests were used since almost all results were measured with ordinal scales, the study sample was small, and most variables not normally distributed.
Results
Almost all self-assessed aspects of hand function, satisfaction in daily occupations, health (DASH), and physical QoL (SF-36) improved statistically for the whole group over time. Large clinical improvement was seen for physical QoL and health, while a low or no improvement was observed for mental QoL, and cold sensitivity. Few differences were found between participants with a severe or major of hand injury or with or without a major nerve injury. No significant differences in demographic data were observed between participants with high or low SOC, but participants with low SOC showed significantly lower satisfaction in daily occupations, higher DASH scores, lower mental QoL, more sleep disturbances, and bodily pain. Correlation was found between SOC, and QoL, health and satisfaction in daily occupations.
Conclusions
SOC had a significant influence on patients with a severe or major traumatic hand injury. Patients with lower SOC would probably benefit from extra support and help to master their daily life, indicating that sense of coherence is an indicator for future rehabilitation focus.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-286
PMCID: PMC3022903  PMID: 21176232
25.  Role of endogenous and exogenous female sex hormones in arthritis and osteoporosis development in B10.Q-ncf1*/* mice with collagen-induced chronic arthritis 
Background
Collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) is an often-used murine model for human rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Earlier studies have shown potent anti-arthritic effects with the female sex hormone estradiol and the selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) raloxifene in CIA in DBA/1-mice. B10.Q-ncf1*/*mice are B10.Q mice with a mutated Ncf1 gene. In B10.Q-ncf1*/*mice, CIA develops as a chronic relapsing disease, which more accurately mimics human RA. We investigated the role of endogenous and exogenous sex steroids and raloxifene in the course of this model of chronic arthritis. We also examined whether treatment would prevent the development of inflammation-triggered generalized osteoporosis.
Methods
Female B10.Q-ncf1*/*mice were sham-operated or ovariectomized, and CIA was induced. 22 days later, when 30% of the mice had developed arthritis, treatment with raloxifene, estradiol or vehicle was started, and the clinical disease was evaluated continuously. Treatment was continued until day 56 after immunization. At termination of the experiment (day 73), bone mineral density (BMD) was analyzed, paws were collected for histological examination, and sera were analyzed for markers of cartilage turnover and pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Results
Raloxifene and estradiol treatment, as well as endogenous estrogen, decreased the frequency of arthritis, prevented joint destruction and countered generalized osteoporosis. These effects were associated with lower serum levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6.
Conclusions
This is the first study to show that raloxifene and estradiol can ameliorate established erosive arthritis and inflammation-triggered osteoporosis in this chronic arthritis model. We propose that treatment with raloxifene could be a beneficial addition to the treatment of postmenopausal RA.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-284
PMCID: PMC3009959  PMID: 21159208

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