Musculoskeletal pain in the workforce: the effects of back, arthritis, and fibromyalgia pain on quality of life and work productivity

J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Jul;53(7):765-70. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318222af81.


Objective: To investigate the impact of musculoskeletal pain on health-related quality of life and work productivity losses among US workers.

Methods: Data from the 2008 US National Health and Wellness Survey were used. Among those currently employed aged 20 to 64 years (N = 30,868), workers with arthritis (n = 2,670), back (n = 4,920), and fibromyalgia (n = 439) pain were compared with workers without those respective musculoskeletal pain conditions.

Results: Arthritis, back, and fibromyalgia pain were all associated with significantly lower levels of health-related quality of life, often at clinically meaningful levels. All pain conditions were associated with higher levels of work productivity loss, even after adjusting for demographic and health characteristics.

Conclusions: Musculoskeletal pain conditions were highly prevalent and associated with a significant burden. Improved management of these conditions may lead to improved productivity, benefiting both employers and workers alike.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Arthritis / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Efficiency / physiology*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult