Background: The objective of this study was to report on the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in lobstermen in the northeast USA.
Methods: Crews were randomly selected from those licensed to fish in Maine and Massachusetts and followed prospectively. The survey used a Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire format to characterize musculoskeletal disorders.
Results: A total of 395 individuals participated. One half of the respondents reported low back pain. Back pain was attributed to or exacerbated by lobstering. Low back pain was prevalent among both captains and sternmen, while sternmen reported more hand/wrist pain than captains. Multiple locations for pain were common in individual participants.
Conclusion: Equipment or technology to assist material handling should be a priority, as the body segments with high prevalence of pain (back, hand/wrists, shoulders, knees) are all affected by the repetitive and forceful handling of the lobster traps.
Keywords: commercial fishing; lobstering; musculoskeletal disorders; work-related pain.