The influence of work-related exposures on the prognosis of neck/shoulder pain

Eur Spine J. 2007 Dec;16(12):2083-91. doi: 10.1007/s00586-007-0481-0. Epub 2007 Aug 25.


To determine associations between work-related exposures and the prognosis of self-reported neck/shoulder pain. This prospective cohort study was based on 803 working subjects who reported neck/shoulder pain at baseline. The proportion of subjects who 5-6 years later were symptom-free was calculated. Data concerning work-related biomechanical, psychosocial, and organizational exposures were collected at baseline. The Cox regression analyses were used to calculate the relative chances (RC) of being symptom-free at the end of the study for single exposures, and also for up to three simultaneous work-related exposures. Adjustments were made for sex and age. Only 36% of the subjects were symptom-free 5-6 years later. The relative chance for being symptom-free at the end of the study was 1.32 (95% CI = 0.99-1.74) for subjects who were exposed to sitting > or =75% of the working time and 1.53 (95% CI = 1.02-2.29) for subjects who were exposed to job strain, i.e., the combination of high demands and low decision latitude. The relative chance of being symptom-free at the end of the study was 0.61 (95% CI = 0.40-0.94) for subjects with at least two out of three simultaneous biomechanical exposures at work; manual handling, working with the hands above shoulder level, and working with vibrating tools. In a heterogeneous population with moderate nonspecific neck/shoulder pain, sedentary work enhanced the chance of being symptom-free 5-6 years later, whereas simultaneous exposures to at least two of manual handling, working with hands above shoulder level and working with vibrating tools were associated with a lower chance of being symptom-free at the end of the study. This could imply that subjects with neck/shoulder pain should avoid such simultaneous exposures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology*
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Shoulder Joint / injuries
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / epidemiology*
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Work / statistics & numerical data