Background: National estimates of tendinitis and related disorders of the distal upper extremity among U.S. workers have not been available with the exception of carpal tunnel syndrome. Methods: The Occupational Health Supplement Data of the 1988 National Health Interview Survey were analyzed for tendinitis and related disorders of the hand/wrist and elbow (distal upper extremity) using the Survey Data Analysis (SUDAAN) software. Results: Among the 30,074 respondents (statistically weighted population of 127 million) who had worked anytime during the previous 12 months, 0.46% (95% CI: 0.36, 0.56) reported that they experienced a prolonged hand discomfort which was called tendinitis, synovitis, tenosynovitis, deQuervain's disease, epicondylitis, ganglion cyst, or trigger finger, by a medical person. This corresponds to 588,000 persons (95% CI: 457,000; 712,000) reporting one of these disorders, 28% (or 164,000) of which were thought to be work-related by the medical person. Among various risk factors examined by multiple logistic regression analysis, bending/twisting of the hands/wrists at work and female gender were significantly associated with reporting of these disorders. Conclusions: By combining these cases with the previously reported cases of work-related carpal tunnel syndrome, we estimate that there were approximately 520,000 cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the distal upper extremity among US workers in 1988.
Shiro Tanaka, NIOSH, Mail Stop R-21, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226