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The association between combination of hand force and forearm posture and incidence of lateral epicondylitis in a working population.

Fan ZJ; Silverstein BA; Bao S; Bonauto DK; Howard NL; Smith CK
Hum Factors 2014 Feb; 56(1):151-165
Objective: The objective of this prospective study is to investigate the exposure-response relationships between various workplace physical exposures of force, repetition, and their combination assessed at an individual level with lateral epicondylitis (LE). Background: Workplace upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UEMSDs) are prevalent, disabling, and expensive. LE is one of the major UEMSDs in active workers. Method: We used detailed health history, symptoms, and physical examination for identifying incidence and detailed exposure assessment to capture work tasks of each worker and to measure quantitative mechanical workload. We used counting process style input of proportional hazards regression for modeling cumulative incidence that accounts for changed exposure estimates during the follow-up period when respondents change jobs. Results: The incidence rate of LE on the dominant side was 4.91 per 100 person-years. Adjusted for age and gender, the combined effect of forearm pronation >45 for >40% of time and time spent with forceful exertion, including any power grip (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] = []), lifting for .3% of time (HR = 2.50, 95% CI = []), and duty cycle for forceful exertion for >10% (HR = 2.25, 95% CI = []), were significant predictors of dominant side LE, whereas neither the awkward posture nor the forceful exertion alone was significant. Older workers with jobs requiring a high percentage of time working with force in combination with awkward postures of forearm were more likely to predict LE. Conclusion: This study shows the evidence of the etiologic role of strenuous manual tasks in the occurrence of LE.
Exposure-levels; Force; Repetitive-work; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Workers; Work-capacity; Age-groups; Humans; Men; Women; Statistical-analysis; Analytical-processes; Posture; Author Keywords: forceful exertion; awkward posture of forearm; lateral epicondylitis; incidence
Z. Joyce Fan, Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP), Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, 243 Israel Rd SE Bldg 3, Tumwater, WA 98501
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Grant
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U01-OH-007316; B20130805; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008433
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Human Factors
Performing Organization
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division