Long-term prognosis for neck-shoulder pain and disorders: a 14-year follow-up study

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ObjectivesThe long-term prognosis for neck-shoulder pain and disorders and the impact of shoulder exposure among former sewing machine operators were investigated in a 14-year follow-up study.MethodsInformation on neck-shoulder pain and disorders was collected by questionnaire and clinical examination at baseline in 243 female sewing machine operators and by questionnaire 14 years later. During follow-up, information on comorbidity and job exposures was obtained from registers and by linking register-based D-ISCO 88 codes with a job exposure matrix. Logistic regression analyses were performed to examine associations between neck-shoulder pain and disorders at baseline and neck-shoulder pain and physical functioning at follow-up.ResultsWe found an association between neck-shoulder disorders at baseline and neck-shoulder pain at follow-up (OR 5.9;95% CI 1.9 to 17.7), and between neck-shoulder pain at baseline and neck-shoulder pain at follow-up (OR 8.2;95% CI 3.5 to 19.2). Associations between neck-shoulder disorders and pain at baseline and limited physical functioning at follow-up had ORs of 5.0 (95% CI 1.5 to 16.1) and 2.2 (95% CI 1.1 to 4.6), respectively. In women still working in 2008, the association between neck-shoulder pain in 1994 and in 2008 seemed to be stronger for those in jobs with high job shoulder exposure.ConclusionsThe results suggest a long-term adverse prognosis for neck-shoulder pain. High job shoulder exposure can worsen this prognosis for those who continue working. This knowledge could influence the counselling given to similar workers and emphasises the need to prevent neck-shoulder pain.

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