Musculoskeletal Symptoms Among Mobile Hand-Held Device Users and Their Relationship to Device Use: A Preliminary Study in a Canadian University Population

Appl Ergon. 2011 Jan;42(2):371-8. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2010.08.010. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


The study aims were, in a population of university students, staff, and faculty (n = 140), to: 1) determine the distribution of seven measures of mobile device use; 2) determine the distribution of musculoskeletal symptoms of the upper extremity, upper back and neck; and 3) assess the relationship between device use and symptoms. 137 of 140 participants (98%) reported using a mobile device. Most participants (84%) reported pain in at least one body part. Right hand pain was most common at the base of the thumb. Significant associations found included time spent internet browsing and pain in the base of the right thumb (odds ratio 2.21, 95% confidence interval 1.02-4.78), and total time spent using a mobile device and pain in the right shoulder (2.55, 1.25-5.21) and neck (2.72, 1.24-5.96). Although this research is preliminary, the observed associations, together with the rising use of these devices, raise concern for heavy users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arm Injuries / epidemiology
  • Back Injuries / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cell Phone*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • Hand Injuries / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Neck Injuries / epidemiology
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thumb / injuries*
  • Time Factors