European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 136–145 | Cite as

Clinical signs and physical function in neck and upper extremities among elderly female computer users: the NEW study

  • B. Juul-KristensenEmail author
  • R. Kadefors
  • K. Hansen
  • P. Byström
  • L. Sandsjö
  • G. Sjøgaard
Original Article


The aim of the study was to present the prevalence of clinical signs and symptoms among female computer users above 45 years, both in a group with self-reported neck/shoulder trouble (NS cases) and in a group without such trouble (NS controls). The hypothesis was that computer users with self-reported neck/shoulder trouble have more clinical findings than those not reporting trouble, and that a corresponding pattern holds true for physical function. In total 42 and 61 questionnaire-defined NS cases and NS controls participated and went through a clinical examination of the neck and upper extremities and five physical function tests: maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of shoulder elevation, abduction, and handgrip, as well as endurance at 30% MVC shoulder elevation and a physical performance test. Based on clinical signs and symptoms, trapezius myalgia (38%), tension neck syndrome (17%) and cervicalgia (17%) were the most frequent diagnoses among NS cases, and were significantly more frequent among NS cases than NS controls. A total of 60% of the subjects with reported trouble had one or several of the diagnoses located in the neck/shoulder. Physical function of the shoulder was lower in subjects with self-reported trouble as well as in the subgroup of NS cases with clinical diagnoses. In conclusion, the present clinical diagnoses and physical function tests differed between NS cases and NS controls, and are therefore recommended to be included as quantitative objective measures in assessing musculoskeletal health. Physical function tests should be further developed in order to be able to detect pre-stages of work-related disorders for preventive strategies.


Diagnoses Musculoskeletal trouble Strength Endurance Fatigue 



We want to thank Kerstina Ohlsson and Catarina Nordander from Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University Hospital, and Agneta Lindegaard and Ewa Gustafsson from the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, Göteborg University for valuable support in clinical discussions and participation in some of the data sampling regarding clinical examinations. Kerstina Ohlsson and Catarina Nordander have further contributed with the extension of the original list of clinical diagnoses. Further, we want to thank Dorte Ekner, Department of Physiology, and Lea Sell, Department of Epidemiology, NIOH for valuable support in the establishment of the database and analyses of the data. This work was undertaken within the NEW project, with partial financial support from the EC within the RTD action QRLT 2000 00139.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Juul-Kristensen
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Kadefors
    • 2
  • K. Hansen
    • 1
  • P. Byström
    • 2
  • L. Sandsjö
    • 2
  • G. Sjøgaard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyNational Institute of Occupational HealthCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.National Institute for Working LifeGothenbergSweden

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