A recent study of 3123 industrial and service workers found that repetitive shoulder movement was the best predictor of neck/shoulder pain and pressure tenderness. The four year prospective cohort study evaluated physical, psychosocial and individual risk factors of participants; jobs were assessed for physical risk factors by ergonomists at the workplace and through video. Participants underwent clinical examinations and filled out questionnaires on job demands, job control, social support, personality, stress indicators and leisure time activity. In approximately one-year intervals, cases of newly developed neck/shoulder pain were identified and clinically evaluated for pressure tenderness.
Over 14 percent of participants developed new neck/shoulder pain during the study, of which 1.7 percent had marked palpatory tenderness over select muscles. Other factors most associated with these subjective/objective findings included long-term neck flexion greater than 20 degrees, lack of recovery time, forceful exertion, high job demands, low job control, and high level of distress. Low social support was not found to be a predictor of neck/shoulder pain.
Andersen JH, Kaergaard A, Mikkelsen S, Jensen UF, Frost P, Bonde JP, Fallentin N, Thomsen JF. “Risk factors in the onset of neck/shoulder pain in a prospective study of workers in industrial and service companies.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 60:649-654, 2003.
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-03-01.