Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2013;39(4):390-400    pdf full text

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3357 | Published online: 14 Mar 2013, Issue date: 01 Jul 2013

The effect of work-related sustained trapezius muscle activity on the development of neck and shoulder pain among young adults

by Hanvold TN, Wærsted M, Mengshoel AM, Bjertness E, Stigum H, Twisk J, Veiersted KB

Objective This study aimed to evaluate if sustained trapezius muscle activity predicts neck and shoulder pain over a 2.5-year period.

Methods Forty young adults (15 hairdressers, 14 electricians, 5 students and 6 with various work) were followed during their first years of working life. Self-reported neck and shoulder pain during the last four weeks was assessed seven times over the observational period. Upper-trapezius muscle activity was measured during a full working day by bilateral surface electromyography (EMG) at baseline (winter 2006/7). Sustained trapezius muscle activity was defined as continuous muscle activity with amplitude >0.5% EMGmax lasting >4 minutes. The relative time of sustained muscle activity during the working day was calculated and further classified into low (0–29%), moderate (30–49%) and high (50–100%) level groups.

Results Generalized estimating equations (GEE), adjusted for time, gender, mechanical workload, control-over-work intensity, physical activity, tobacco use, and prior neck and shoulder pain, showed that participants with a high level of sustained muscle activity had a rate of neck and shoulder pain three times higher than the low level group during a 2.5-year period. The association was strongest at the same time and shortly after the EMG measurement, indicating a time-lag of ≤6 months.

Conclusion The results support the hypothesis that sustained trapezius muscle activity is associated with neck and shoulder pain. This association was strongest analyzing cross-sectional and short-term effects.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 1993;19(4):277-283  1993;19(4):284-290  2009;35(2):85-95  2001;27(1):41-48
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