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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000179
Original Articles

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

Gardner, Bethany T. OTD, OTR/L; Dale, Ann Marie PhD, OTR/L; Descatha, Alexis MD; Evanoff, Bradley MD, MPH

Continued Medical Education
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Abstract

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.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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