Classification systems for upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders in workers: a review of the literature

J Clin Epidemiol. 2003 Oct;56(10):925-36. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(03)00122-7.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to provide a review of the available classification systems and to describe the similarities and differences in the structure of these systems.

Methods: Classification systems of upper limb musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were located via electronic database searches and researchers' files. The classification systems were compared on the disorders they described and on the criteria presented for each disorder.

Results: Twenty-seven classification systems were found after title, abstract, or full article review of 1671 articles. The systems differed in the disorders they included, the labels used to identify the disorders, and the criteria used to describe the disorders.

Conclusion: Twenty-seven classification systems were found that described disorders of the muscle, tendon, or nerve that may be caused or aggravated by work. No two systems were the same.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / classification*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / classification*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Terminology as Topic
  • Upper Extremity