Clinical trials among worker populations: the value and significance of anamnestic findings and clinical and instrumental tests for diagnosing work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limbs (WMSDs)

Ergonomics. 1998 Sep;41(9):1322-39. doi: 10.1080/001401398186333.


The authors discuss the value and significance of symptoms in WMSDs, in view of the fact that the anamnestic threshold proposed in epidemiological investigations cannot be used as clinical and diagnosing criteria. Some useful clinical procedures are suggested for cases where there is a suspicion of musculoskeletal disorders of the cervical spine and upper limbs, bearing in mind that they are to be applied within the framework of health surveillance programmes undertaken by health care practitioners who are not specialists in orthopaedics, physiatrics or neurology. The recommendations for instrumental tests and specialist referrals are also discussed for the various disorders. The authors also provide flow charts for the diagnostic procedures pertaining to WMSDs. The appendix shows a sample patient chart illustrating the proposed procedures; it also permits the findings to be encoded so that they can be stored in a dedicated database. The codes for diagnosing WMSDs are also reported for the same epidemiological purposes.

MeSH terms

  • Brachial Plexus Neuritis / diagnosis
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination*
  • Tennis Elbow / diagnosis