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Work related shoulder disorders: quantitative exposure-response relations with reference to arm posture
  1. S W Svendsen1,
  2. J P Bonde1,
  3. S E Mathiassen2,
  4. K Stengaard-Pedersen3,
  5. L H Frich4
  1. 1Department of Occupational Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University Hospital, Sweden
  3. 3Department of Rheumatology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
  4. 4Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Odense University Hospital, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S W Svendsen
 Department of Occupational Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Noerrebrogade 44, Building 02C, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark;


Aims: To determine quantitative exposure-response relations between work with highly elevated arms and supraspinatus tendinitis, shoulder pain with disability, and shoulder pain without disability.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted in a historical cohort of 1886 males from three occupational groups. Exposure measurements were performed for four consecutive working days in a random sample of 72 currently employed subjects. Individual work histories were obtained by questionnaire and register data. Health status was ascertained by physical examination blinded towards exposure and symptoms. Data were analysed by generalised estimating equation and multiple logistic regression with adjustment for potential confounders.

Results: For current upper arm elevation above 90°, a duration increment of 1% of the daily working hours was associated with odds ratios of 1.23 (95% CI 1.10 to 1.39) for supraspinatus tendinitis, 1.16 (95% CI 1.08 to 1.24) for shoulder pain with disability, and 1.08 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.13) for shoulder pain without disability. The outcomes were not related to duration of employment in one of the three trades.

Conclusions: Quantitative exposure-response relations were established between current work with highly elevated arms and clinically verified shoulder disorders. Substantial long term cumulative effects were not shown. A potential for primary prevention was revealed.

  • CI, confidence interval
  • OR, odds ratio
  • r2, squared Pearson correlation coefficient
  • shoulder
  • stress
  • mechanical
  • occupational medicine

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