Psychophysiology of work: stress, gender, endocrine response, and work-related upper extremity disorders

Am J Ind Med. 2002 May;41(5):383-92. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10038.


Background: Mental stress may induce muscle tension and has been proposed to contribute to the development of work related upper extremity disorders (WRUEDs) by driving low threshold motor units into degenerative processes by overload.

Methods and results: Measurements of perceived stress, catecholamines, blood pressure, and heart rate are associated with stress induced elevation of trapezius electromyographic activity. In repetitive tasks, where WRUEDs are common, psychophysiological arousal is generally high both during and after work. A possible explanation of the high prevalence of WRUEDs among women could be that women often are performing repetitive tasks and are exposed to additional stress from unpaid work.

Conclusions: It is concluded that both physical and psychosocial work conditions may contribute to WRUEDs by inducing physiological stress and muscle tension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Catecholamines / blood*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*


  • Catecholamines