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Table 2 Overview of terminology and prevalence rates

From: Incidence and prevalence of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders. A systematic appraisal of the literature

Country, year of data collection (reference) Term Definition Measurement tool Prevalence (%)
     Total Men Women
Point prevalence
Australia, 1985
(Fry et al. 1987)
Overuse (injury) syndrome Those changes brought about in the muscles and joint ligaments form excessive use, causing pain, loss of function, and almost always demonstrable tenderness in the affected structures Interview and examination (most) of the effected cases 9.3 3.2 6.1
USA, –
(McCormack et al. 1990)
Upper extremity disorders 1) Current problems in the upper extremity
2) ICD.9 CM used to code diagnosis. Excluded osteoarthritis, previous trauma unrelated to present employment, and rheumatic diseases
1) Questionnaire
2) Physical examination of the positive cases
Canada, 1995
(Feldman et al. 2002)
Neck and upper limb pain Having substantial neck and upper limb pain at inception Questionnaire 31.9 - -
Great Britain, 1997–98
(Palmer et al. 2001)
Upper limb symptoms (inclusive neck) - Questionnaire 30.0 - -
The Netherlands, 1998
(Picavet et al. 2003)
RSI Repetitive strain injury - Questionnaire 1,9 2.0 1.9
USA, 1998
(Katz et al. 2000)
Upper extremity musculo- skeletal disorders - Questionnaire 53.0 21.2 31.8
12-months prevalence
Sweden, 1983
(Dimberg et al. 1989)
NES Neck and upper extremity symptoms - Questionnaire 23.0 - -
USA, 1991
(Bernard et al. 1994)
Musculo- skeletal disorders of the upper extremity Pain, numbness, tingling, aching, stiffness, or burning in neck, shoulder, hand, or wrist and all of the following criteria applied: 1) no previous accident or sudden injury that was work-related 2) symptoms began after the current job was started 3) symptoms lasted for more than one week or occurred at least once a month within the last year 4) symptoms were reported as "moderate" or "worse" of a five-point intensity scale. Questionnaire 41.0 - -
USA, –
(Hales et al. 1994)
Work-related UE disorders Upper extremity disorders Pain, aching, stiffness, burning, tingling, or numbness Symptoms occurred within the past year No previous accident or trauma within the past year Symptoms began after employment within the company Symptoms occurred on the current job Symptoms lasted for more than 1 week, or occurred at least once a month Positive findings on the symptomatic joint area (criteria defined for various medical conditions) Questionnaire and physical examination 22.0 2.8 17.2
Canada, 1995
(Polanyi et al. 1997)
Upper limb (neck, shoulder and arm) work-related musculo- skeletal disorders (WMSDs) Those who experienced moderate, severe, or unbearable pain or discomfort either once per month or for longer than a week over the past year Questionnaire 19.8 7.7 12.1
Italy, –
(Batevi et al. 1998)
WMSDs work-related musculo- skeletal disorders of the upper limbs 'Anamnestic cases': pain or paraesthesia present for at least 1 week during the previous 12 months, or appearing at least once a month, and not subsequent to acute trauma Anamnestic 1.9 age 15–35
7.2 age >35
9.1 total age >15
0.8 age 15–35
2.7 age >35
3.5 total age >15
1.1 age 15–35
4.5 age >35
5.6 total age >15
   'Clinical examination' (cases out of the positive anamnestic cases): no definition Clinical examinations 0.5 age 15–35
3.4 age >35
3.9 total age >15
no data age 15–35
0.8 age >35
0.8 total age >15
0.5 age >35
2.6 age >35
3.1 total age >15
USA, 1996
(Morse et al. 2003)
UEMSD Upper extremity musculo- skeletal disorders Pain or discomfort of the hand, arm, shoulder, or neck for one continuous week or 20 days total over the previous 12 months (= chronic pain) Telephone survey 11.7 - -
Lifetime prevalence
USA, 1991
(Stockstill et al. 1993)
Upper extremity neuro- pathy Altered sensation in hands or arms, forearms, cervical area or neck Questionnaire 29 - -