An 18-month follow-up study on vibrotactile sense, muscle strength and symptoms in computer users with and without symptoms

Original Article

Abstract

Objectives: The aim was to explore whether symptoms, sensory perception and muscle strength among computer users with and without symptoms in forearm or hand had changed after 18 months. Methods: Twenty-six out of 30 females, experienced computer users, from a baseline study participated in the follow-up. In addition, five control subjects participated. The subjects completed a questionnaire regarding exposure to computer work, prevalence and severity of symptoms, health status and physical activity. Perceived thresholds for vibration were measured twice with 3 h in between on the right hand on four different sites innervated by the radial, median or ulnar nerve. Furthermore, sensory perception was measured on the left hand on two sites innervated by the median and ulnar nerve, respectively. Skin temperature was measured at each site prior to sensory perception measurements. Maximal handgrip strength and maximal pinch-grip strength were measured for both hands. Results: Eighty-three percent of the subjects who had symptoms at baseline still had symptoms and 21% of the subjects who did not have symptoms at baseline experienced symptoms at follow-up. The first and the second sensory perception measurement were highly correlated. Vibrotactile sensory threshold representing the radial nerve was increased since baseline among the subjects who originally had symptoms. At follow-up, the vibrotactile sense for the computer users who reported symptoms in forearm or hand at baseline was deteriorated for the sites representing the median, ulnar and radial nerves compared to the control group. Among the original symptom free subjects with intensive computer work increases in vibrotactile perception thresholds were found for the sites representing the median and ulnar nerves. Handgrip muscle strength remained unchanged for all groups. Conclusions: The study indicates that sensory dysfunctions as well as symptoms in forearm and hand among computer users to a high degree are persistent. Muscle strength seems to be well maintained.

Keywords

Sensory perception Vibrotactilometry Muscle strength Computer work Longitudinal study 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Theis Bavnhoej Hansen for his assistance during the experimental part of the study.

References

  1. Akesson I, Lundborg G, Horstmann V, Skerfving S (1995) Neuropathy in female dental personnel exposed to high frequency vibrations. Occup Environ Med 52(2):116–123PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Chong MS, Bajwa ZH (2003) Diagnosis and treatment of neuropathic pain. J Pain Symptom Manage 25:4–11CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Conrad JC, Conrad KJ, Osborn JB (1993) A short-term, three-year epidemiological study of median nerve sensitivity in practicing dental hygienists. J Dent Hyg 67(5):268–272PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Daniel CR 3rd, Bower JD, Pearson JE, Holbert RD (1977) Vibrometry and uremic peripheral neuropathy. South Med J 70:1311–1313PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Diao E, Shao F, Liebenberg E, Rempel D, Lotz JC (2005) Carpal tunnel pressure alters median nerve function in a dose-dependent manner: a rabbit model for carpal tunnel syndrome. J Orthop Res 23:218–223CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Dyck PJ, Bushek W, Spring EM, Karnes JL, Litchy WJ, O’Brian PC, Service J (1987) Vibratory and cooling detection thresholds compared with other tests in diagnosing and staging diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes Care 10:432–440PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Elderson A, Gerritsen vdH, Haanstra W, Neijt JP, Gispen WH, Jennekens FG (1989) Vibration perception and thermoperception as quantitative measurements in the monitoring of cisplatin induced neurotoxicity. J Neurol Sci 93:167–174CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gerr F, Letz R (1993) Vibrotactile threshold testing in occupational health: a review of current issues and limitations. Environ Res 60:145–159CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gerr F, Letz R, Landrigan PJ (1991) Upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders of occupational origin. Annu Rev Public Health 12:543–566CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Gerr F, Marcus M, Ensor C, Kleinbaum D, Cohen S, Edwards A, Gentry E, Ortiz D, Monteilh C (2002) A prospective study of computer users: I. Study design and incidence of musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders. Am J Ind Med 41:221–235CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Goldberg JM, Lindblom U (1979) Standardised method of determining vibratory perception thresholds for diagnosis and screening in neurological investigation. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 42:793–803PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Greening J, Lynn B (1998) Vibration sense in the upper limb in patients with repetitive strain injury and a group of at-risk office workers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 71:29–34Google Scholar
  13. Gregersen G (1968) Vibratory perception threshold and motor conduction velocity in diabetics and non-diabetics. Acta Med Scand 183:61–65PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Halonen P (1986) Quantitative vibration perception thresholds in healthy subjects of working age. Eur J Appl Physiol 54:647–655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. International Standard (2001) Mechanical vibration—Vibrotactile perception thresholds for the assessment of nerve dysfunction—Part I: methods of measurement at the fingertips, 1st edn. ISO 13091-1, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  16. Jensen C (2003) Development of neck and hand-wrist symptoms in relation to duration of computer use at work. Scand J Work Environ Health 29(3):197–205PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Jensen BR, Pilegaard M, Momsen A (2002) Vibrotactile sense and mechanical functional state of the arm and hand among computer users compared with a control group. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 75:332–340Google Scholar
  18. Jensen C, Finsen L, Søgaard K, Christensen H (2002) Musculoskeletal symptoms and duration of computer and mouse use. Int J Ind Erg 30:265–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Karlqvist L, Tornqvist EW, Hagberg M, Hagman M, Toomingas A (2003) Self-reported working conditions of VDU operators and associations with musculoskeletal symptoms: a cross-sectional study focussing on gender differences. Int J Ind Erg 30:277–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mathiowetz V, Kashman N, Volland G, Weber K, Dove M, Rogers S (1985) Grip and pinch strength: normative data for adults. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 66:69–74PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Merchut MP, Toleikis SC (1990) Aging and quantitative sensory thresholds. Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol 30:293–297PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Punnett L, Bergqvist U (1999) Musculoskeletal disorders in visual display unit work: gender and work demands. Occup Med 14:113–124PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Rempel DM, Daio E (2004) Entrapment neuropathies: pathophysiology and pathogenesis. J Electrophysiol Kinesiol 13:71–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Torgén M, Swerup C (2002) Individual factors and physical work load in relation to sensory thresholds in a middle-aged general population sample. Eur J Appl Physiol 86:418–427CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Tornqvist EW, Hagberg M, Hagman M, Risberg EH, Toomingas A (2004) The influence of work-related exposures and individual factors on the incidence of neck and upper limb symptoms among professional computer operators. In: Proceedings of the fifth international scientific conference on prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders abstract book, vol 2. Zurich, Switzerland, pp 389–390Google Scholar
  26. Van Der Hoop RG, Vecht CJ, van der Burg ME, Elderson A, Boogerd W, Heimans JJ, Vries EP, van Houwelingen JC, Jennekens FGI, Gispen WH, Neijt JP (1990) Prevention of cisplatin neurotoxicity with an ACTH(4–9) analogue in patients with ovarian cancer. N Engl J Med 322(2):89–94PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Physiology, Institute of Exercise and Sport Sciences, August Krogh InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

Personalised recommendations