Neck and upper extremity pain in sonographers - a longitudinal study

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Sonographers have reported a high occurrence of musculoskeletal pain for more than 25 years. Assessments of occupational risk factors have previously been based on cross-sectional surveys. The aim of this longitudinal study was to determine which factors at baseline that were associated with neck/shoulder and elbow/hand pain at follow-up.

METHODS: A questionnaire was answered by 248 female sonographers at baseline and follow-up (85% of the original cohort). 208 were included in the analyses. Physical, visual, and psychosocial work-related conditions were assessed at baseline. Pain in two body regions (neck/shoulders and elbows/hands) was assessed at both baseline and follow up.

RESULTS: Pain at baseline showed the strongest association with pain at follow-up in both body regions [prevalence ratio (PR) 2.04; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.50-2.76], for neck/shoulders and (PR 3.45; CI 2.29-5.22) for elbows/hands. Neck/shoulder pain at follow-up was associated with inability of ergonomic adjustments at the ultrasound device (PR 1.25; CI 1.05-1.49), a high mechanical exposure index (PR 1.66; CI 1.09-2.52), and adverse visual conditions (PR 1.24; CI 1.00-1.54) at baseline. Moreover, among participants with no neck/shoulder pain at baseline, high job demands (PR 1.78; CI 1.01-3.12), and a high mechanical exposure index (PR 2.0; CI 0.98-4.14) predicted pain at follow-up. Pain in the elbows/hands at follow-up was associated with high sensory demands at baseline (PR 1.63; CI 1.08-2.45), and among participants without pain at baseline high sensory demands predicted elbow/hand pain at follow-up (PR 3.34; CI 1.53-7.31).

CONCLUSION: Pain at baseline was the strongest predictor for pain at follow-up in both body regions. We also found several occupational factors at baseline that were associated with pain at follow-up: inability to adjust equipment, adverse visual conditions, a high MEI, high job demands and high sensory demands. These results point at a possibility to influence pain with better ergonomics.

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  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Original languageEnglish
Article number156
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Volume21
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 12
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes