Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among farmers: A systematic review

Am J Ind Med. 2012 Feb;55(2):143-58. doi: 10.1002/ajim.21033. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among farmers and to establish the most common regional MSDs reported.

Methods: Comprehensive electronic searches of Pubmed, Web of Science, CINAHL, SCOPUS, EMBASE, Agris Database, and Cochrane Library were carried out using keywords for MSDs and farmers. Pooled estimates of prevalence with 95% confidence intervals were calculated for overall MSD prevalence and the most common regional MSDs reported.

Results: Twenty-four studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were incorporated into this review. From these studies, life-time prevalence of any form of MSD among farmers was 90.6% while 1-year MSD prevalence was 76.9% (95% CI 69.8-82.7). The majority of studies focused on spinal MSDs with low back pain (LBP) the most frequently investigated. Life-time LBP prevalence was 75% (95% CI 67-81.5) while 1-year LBP prevalence was 47.8% (95% CI 40.2-55.5). The next most common regional MSDs reported were upper (range 3.6-71.4%) and lower extremities (range 10.4-41%).

Conclusions: The systematic review identified the prevalence of MSDs by body region in farmers and established that LBP was the most common MSD, followed by upper and then lower extremity MSDs. Reported trends suggest that the prevalence of MSDs in farmers is greater than in non-farmer populations. Case-definition uniformity among MSD researchers is warranted. More studies are needed regarding upper and lower extremity MSDs, gender, workplace, and task context of MSDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupational Health
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Upper Extremity / injuries