Neck and shoulder complaints among sewing-machine operators: a study concerning frequency, symptomatology and dysfunction

Appl Ergon. 1991 Aug;22(4):251-7. doi: 10.1016/0003-6870(91)90228-a.


The occupation of sewing-machine operators (SMO) involves monotonous and repetitive tasks, performed in a work position equivalent to a static component of muscular load on the neck and shoulder. The present study concerns the occurrence of neck-shoulder problems in a population of SMO. A total of 224 SMO from four textile factories in the western part of Sweden were subjected to a comprehensive questionnaire about demographic, vocational, medical and psychosocial data. The Nordic Ministry Questionnaire specifically directed towards neck-shoulder complaints showed a prevalence rate during the last 12 months of 75% and during the last seven days a rate of 51%. Daily problems were experienced by 26%. Some 27% had had problems leading to restraints in work time and 37% in leisure time. Those SMO screening positive were clinically examined in an attempt to describe the clinical picture behind the complaints. Diagnoses were made according to specific criteria. The tension neck syndrome (TNS) was most frequent, followed by the cervical syndrome. In half of those examined, symptoms and findings were too unspecific for diagnosis. A positive correlation between the TNS and working hours per week suggests a daily prolonged static load on the neck and shoulder to be of importance for neck-shoulder problems among the SMO.