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Objectives. Standing at work has been associated with discomfort and cardiovascular symptoms. Because standing postures vary in duration, mobility, and constraint, we explored associations between specific postures and pain in the lower extremities.
Methods. We used multiple logistic regression to analyze associations between work factors and pain in the lower extremities during the previous 12 months that interfered with usual activities. We used data from among 7757 workers who were interviewed in the 1998 Quebec Health and Social Survey.
Results. Among all respondents, 9.4% reported significant ankle or foot pain, and 6.4% had lower-leg or calf pain. Significantly more women than men had pain at both sites. Both leg or calf and ankle or foot pain were strongly associated with standing postures, whole-body vibration, psychological distress, female gender, and being aged 50 years or older. Constrained standing postures were associated with increased ankle or foot pain for both men and women and with leg or calf pain for women, compared with standing with freedom to sit at will.
Conclusions. Freedom to sit at work may prevent lower-extremity pain. The effects of specific sitting and standing postures on cartilage, muscle, and the cardiovascular system may help explain discomfort in the lower extremities.
BACKGROUND: To date, no study has investigated the prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms in all the body regions in the general population of office workers.
AIMS: To estimate the 12-month prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms in the head/neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists/hands, upper back, low back, hips, knees and ankles/feet among office workers. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey using a descriptive questionnaire distributed to 2000 office workers in 54 workplaces.
RESULTS: A total of 1428 subjects (71%) returned the questionnaire, of whom 1185 were eligible for the study. The annual prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms attributed to work was 63%. Sites of symptoms, in order of prevalence, were head/neck (42%), low back (34%), upper back (28%), wrists/hands (20%), shoulders (16%), ankles/feet (13%), knees (12%), hips (6%) and elbows (5%). Female office workers were more likely to report symptoms in the head/neck, shoulder, upper back and ankle/foot regions than male counterparts (P < 0.05). Office workers younger than 30 years were more likely to have symptoms in the upper back than those older than 49 years (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Musculoskeletal symptoms are common among office workers with a high proportion experiencing symptoms in the spine. The prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms in some body regions is dependent on gender and age. This indicates a need to develop specific strategies to reduce the occurrence of such symptoms among office workers.