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Oral Session 19 – Musculoskeletal disorders and computers

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J. Riis Jepsen1, G. Thomsen1.1Department of Occupational Medicine, Sydvestjysk Sygehus, Esbjerg, Denmark

Introduction: The character of upper limb disorder in computer operators is yet to be defined. A peripheral nerve involvement is suggested from symptoms commonly including the triad of pain, paraesthesia, and weakness, as well as from clinical observations and recent research.

Objective: To examine the outcome of detailed neurological examination and to compare findings with the presence of symptoms.

Methods: In this study, 117 graphical computer operators answered a modified Nordic Questionnaire and underwent a blinded physical examination including manual assessment of individual muscle strength (11 upper limb muscles), algesia (five locations), vibratory threshold (three locations), and mechanical allodynia along nerves (seven locations). Localised neuropathy was defined according to the course and innervation patterns of nerves. Data were analysed by linear regression.

Results: Pain at any location was reported in 56 mouse operating limbs; however on a scale of 0 to 9, the summarised score exceeded 4 in only 16 limbs. Paraesthesia and subjective weakness were experienced in 24 and 12 limbs, respectively. Abnormal physical findings were prevalent. According to the pattern of findings, brachial neuropathy at cord level was defined in 12 limbs, median neuropathy at elbow level in 19 limbs, and osterior interosseous neuropathy in 19 limbs, with significant correlation to the reporting of pain for the latter. Neuropathy was defined in all these locations in 10 limbs and at least in one location in 35 limbs. The summarised scores for pain in isolation and in combination with paraesthesia and weakness correlated significantly with the summarised scores for muscle strength (deltoid, biceps, radial flexor of wrist, ulnar extensor of wrist), algesia, vibration threshold, and allodynia.

Conclusions: The outcome of this small scale study of a group of computer operators with …

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