Length of disability and cost of work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremity

J Occup Environ Med. 1998 Mar;40(3):261-9. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199803000-00008.


There is little information on the length of disability (LOD) reported for work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremity (WMSDUE). For this study, LOD, cost, and the relationship between LOD and cost were derived from a large workers' compensation company's claims data for 1994 WMSDUE (n = 21,338). The average LOD was 87 days, with a median of zero days. For those claims with at least one day of compensable disability (25.2%), the average and median LOD were 294 and 99 days, respectively. The distribution of cost was skewed, with the average cost of a claim being 13 times higher than its median. Approximately 60% of the claims cost $1000 or less. Additionally, the 6.8% of the claims with an LOD greater than one year accounted for 59.9% of the cost and 75% of the total disability days. The majority of WMSDUE claimants did not lose sufficient time to qualify for indemnity. For those who did receive lost time wages, a disability duration of more than three months was typical.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Disability / economics*
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / classification
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / economics*
  • Occupational Diseases / economics*
  • Sick Leave / economics*
  • United States