Natural History of Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Resulting Work Limitations Over 3 Years in a Newly Hired Working Population

Objective: To describe the proportions of workers with upper extremity (UE) symptoms and work limitations because of symptoms in a newly hired working population over a 3-year study period and to describe transitions between various outcome states.
Methods: A total of 827 subjects completed repeat self-reported questionnaires including demographics, medical and work history, symptoms, and work status. Outcomes of interest were UE symptoms and work limitations because of symptoms.
Results: Up to 72% of workers reported symptoms at least once during the study, with 12% reporting persistent symptoms and 27% reporting fluctuating symptoms; 31% reported work limitations at least once, with 3% reporting consistent work limitations and 8% reporting fluctuating limitations.
Conclusions: UE symptoms and work limitations are common among workers and dynamic in their course. A better understanding of the natural course of symptoms is necessary for targeted interventions.

Source: Gardner, Bethany T.; Dale, Ann Marie; Descatha, Alexis; Evanoff, Bradley. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: June 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 6 - p 588–594

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