Multilevel nerve compression and muscle imbalance in work-related neuromuscular disorders

Christine B. Novak, Susan E. Mackinnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Work-related upper limb disorders have come under increasing scrutiny and become a frustrating problem. Methods: A unifying hypothesis to explain the multiplicity of symptoms with work related neuromuscular disorders is outlined. This multifactorial problem includes physical, individual, and psychosocial factors. Abnormal postures and positions may compress nerves or may alter muscle length resulting in secondary compressive forces on nerves or in muscle imbalances. Evaluation should identify all nerve compression levels and muscle imbalance in the arm and cervicoscapular region. Management must include patient education, postural correction, and an exercise program to address the multiple nerve compression levels and muscle imbalance. Results and Conclusions: The etiology of work related neuromusculoskeletal disorders is multifactorial and successful management must address all contributing factors. Appropriate conservative management will relieve symptoms in most patients. Surgery should be reserved for those few patients with evidence of a specific diagnosis who have failed conservative management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-352
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Chronic nerve compression
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Work related


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