Neck Injury - Musculoskeletal Disorders: Evidence for Work Accidents
Your work accident lawyer at Weitz & Luxenberg wants you to be aware of all the factors involved in your work accident lawsuit. The following information is based on a study conducted by NIOSH in 1997. Some of the facts involved may change with time, increased study, the circumstances specific to your case. Only an experienced work accident lawyer can properly evaluate your case and determine if you are eligible for a no out-of-pocket expense work accident lawsuit. Fill out this form for a FREE consultation.
Over 40 epidemiologic studies have examined physical workplace factors and their relationship to neck and neck/shoulder musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Among these studies are those which fulfill rigorous epidemiologic criteria and appropriately address important issues so that causal inferences can be made. The majority of studies involved working groups with a combination of interacting work factors, but certain studies assessed specific work factors. Each of the studies we examined (those with negative, positive, or equivocal findings) contributed to the overall pool of data for us to use in assessing the strength of the work-relatedness using causal inference.
There is evidence for a causal relationship between highly repetitive work and neck and neck/shoulder MSDs. Most of the epidemiologic studies reviewed defined “repetitive work” for the neck as work activities which involve continuous arm or hand movements which affect the neck/shoulder musculature and generate loads on the neck/shoulder area; fewer studies examined relationships based on actual repetitive neck movements. The two studies which measured repetitive neck movements by measuring head position (using frequency and duration of movements) fulfilled the most stringent epidemiologic criteria, showing strong associations with neck/shoulder MSDs. In those studies defining repetitive work involving continuous arm or hand movements affecting the neck/shoulder, nine studies were statistically significant and had odds ratios (ORs) greater than 3.0.; eight studies fulfilled all the epidemiologic criteria except the exposure criteria, and measured repetition for the hand/wrist and not for the neck. Of these, three were statistically significant and had ORs greater than 3, five had nonsignificant ORs, all under 2.0.
There is also evidence for forceful exertion and the occurrence of neck MSDs in the epidemiologic literature. Most of the epidemiologic studies reviewed defined “forceful work” for the neck/shoulder as work activities which involve forceful arm or hand movements, which generate loads to the neck/shoulder area; no study examined a relationship based on actual forceful neck movements. Of the 17 studies addressing force as one of the exposure factors, five studies found statistically significant associations, but did notderive ORs; two studies found ORs greater than 3.0, seven studies from 1 to 3.0, and two studies with ORs less than 1.0. Many of the studies relating measured force (as workload, etc.) to MSDs are in the biomechanical and ergonomic literature.
There is strong evidence that working groups with high levels of static contraction, prolonged static loads, or extreme working postures involving the neck/shoulder muscles are at increased risk for neck/shoulder MSDs. Consistently high ORs were found (twelve statistically significant studies with ORs over 3.0) providing evidence linking tension-neck syndrome with static postures or static loads.
The epidemiologic data were insufficient to provide support for the relationship of vibration to neck disorders. At this time, further studies must be done before a decision regarding causal inference is made. The few prospective studies which have included interventions to decrease workplace exposures that include decreasing repetitive work and less extreme working postures showed a decrease in the incidence of neck MSDs and an improvement in symptoms among affected workers. The data on intervention provide additional evidence that these disorders are related to workplace risk factors.
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