Repetitive industrial work and neck and upper limb disorders in females

Am J Ind Med. 1995 May;27(5):731-47. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700270508.


A cross-sectional study was performed in which physical examinations of the neck and upper limbs were conducted on 82 currently working female industrial workers with exposure to repetitive work tasks and on 64 currently working referent subjects without exposure to repetitive work tasks. Associations between results of symptom questions and physical examination were sought with variables related to the work environment and to the individuals. In a multivariate model, there were statistically significant associations between exposure to repetitive work and diagnoses in both the neck/shoulders (prevalence odds ratio, POR = 4.6) and elbows/hands (POR = 3.5). In addition, age (POR = 1.9, 75th vs. 25th percentiles), tendencies towards subjective muscular tension (POR = 2.3), and stress/worry (POR = 1.9) were also associated with diagnoses in the neck/shoulders; however, there was not an association between these variables and the prevalence of diagnoses in elbows/hands. Standardized evaluation of videotape recordings in 74 of the industrial workers revealed significant associations between neck flexion, and elevation and abduction of the arm and the prevalence of neck/shoulder diagnoses. In the multivariate model, neck flexion was significantly associated with diagnoses in the neck/shoulders (p = 0.005). In addition, low muscle strength, lack of emotional well-being at work, and a variety of psychosomatic symptoms were associated with diagnoses in the neck/shoulders (all p < 0.001). Lack of strength was also associated with disorders of elbows/hands (p = 0.007). This study demonstrated a substantial prevalence of neck and upper limb disorders associated with repetitive work performed with a flexed neck and elevated and abducted arms, as well as a possible potentiation of these ergonomic factors by certain personal traits in some workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Arm
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Neck
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors