Purpose: The outcomes of workers with upper-extremity musculoskeletal (UEMS) symptoms or disorders were evaluated over a 3-year period in a population highly exposed to repetitive work. Methods: Data were derived from a survey focused on the health effects of repetitive tasks, with a standardized physical examination by an occupational physician, in 1993 to 1994 and again in 1996 to 1997. All workers with UEMS symptoms or disorders in 1993 to 1994 were included. We classified 3-year outcomes into 3 categories in 1996 to 1997: neither UEMS disorder nor symptoms, UEMS symptoms only, and UEMS disorder. Results: A total of 464 workers were included (125 men and 339 women). At baseline, most of them experienced a UEMS disorder (n = 421). The 3-year recovery rate differed according to the site of the disorders: high for elbow disorders only (10 of 21), moderate for neck or shoulder, or hand or wrist disorders only (17 of 74 and 22 of 119, respectively), and low for multiple sites of UEMS disorders (25 of 207). Conclusions: In this population exposed to repetitive work, a large proportion of workers have persistent UEMS symptoms or disorders, with recovery rates differing according to the site involved and the presence of multiple disorders.
- musculoskeletal diseases