Repetitive stress injury: diagnosis or self-fulfilling prophecy?

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2000 Sep;82(9):1314-22. doi: 10.2106/00004623-200009000-00012.


* The vague definitions of so-called repetitive stress injuries are indicative of the fact that scientific studies have failed to show that repetitive motion causes injury. * Given the uncertainty about causation, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) is a more readily accepted term to describe these phenomena. * There is little doubt that most ergonomic interventions increase comfort in the work environment, which is of great benefit to the worker. Many proponents of ergonomics assert that the elimination of certain risk factors related to force, repetition, and posture can prevent or even cure work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremity. However, there is little scientific support for this position. * Undue reliance on ergonomics to treat musculoskeletal disorders, to the exclusion of proper diagnosis and attention to medical and health risk factors, can have adverse consequences for the patient. * Science rather than politics and public policy should determine what causes injury and disease. * The failure of numerous plaintiffs in litigation regarding repetitive stress injury due to use of computer keyboards is important because, when judges and lay jurors were presented with both sides of the issue, they rejected these claims in a forum (the judicial system) that traditionally compensates individuals bringing so-called mass-tort cases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Liability / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Prognosis
  • United States