Musculoskeletal symptoms of the upper extremities and the neck: a cross-sectional study on prevalence and symptom-predicting factors at visual display terminal (VDT) workstations

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2008 Jun 27;9:96. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-9-96.


Background: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and the predictors of musculoskeletal symptoms in the upper extremities and neck at visual display terminal (VDT) workstations.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study 1,065 employees working at VDT > 1 h/d completed a standardised questionnaire. Workstation conditions were documented in a standardised checklist, and a subgroup of 82 employees underwent a physical examination.

Results: Using the Nordic Questionnaire, the 12-month prevalence of symptoms of the neck, shoulder region, hand/wrist, or elbow/lower arm was 55%, 38%, 21%, and 15% respectively. The duration of VDT work had a significant impact on the frequency of neck symptoms in employees performing such work > 6 h/d.

Conclusion: With regard to musculoskeletal symptoms of the upper extremities, preventive measures at VDT workstations should be focused on neck and shoulder symptoms (e.g. ergonomic measures, breaks to avoid sitting over long periods).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Terminals*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology*