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Glendale, CA 91206
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Study on Reducing Neck and Arm Pain in Computer Workers

Posted on: 11/30/1999
One-fourth to nearly one-third of all computer workers worldwide suffer neck and/or arm pain. In this study, researchers from the Netherlands compare the results of three treatment methods in computer workers. All participants had pain or stiffness in the neck, shoulder, arms, hands, or wrists.

The focus of treatment in group one was a change in work style. Intervention included improving body posture and making adjustments to the work place. Taking breaks and coping with the demands of work were also part of the work style group.

Group two combined the elements of the work style group along with training toward increasing lifestyle physical activity. Walking, biking, gardening, chores, and sports were encouraged. Group three received usual care. They did not participate in any of the group meetings.

Groups one and two met once a month for six months. Data was collected, analyzed, and compared. There was follow-up for 12 months. Results were measured by pain intensity, number of days with symptoms, and amount of disability at work.

The authors reported the single work style intervention was most effective in reducing pain and symptoms. Group meetings were successful in providing general information and increasing awareness about work style. Adding physical activity did not change the results.

Changes in work style had the greatest effect in the long-term (after 12 months of follow-up). Significant changes were not observed after six months. It appears that behavioral change takes time. Effects are not easily seen in the short-term.

The lack of improvement in the combined work style and physical activity group was a surprise. The authors suspect a lack of focus may be the reason for this outcome. More than one message given to the workers could be at fault. More study is needed to come to a complete understanding of this phenomenon.

Claire M. Bernaards, et al. The Effectiveness of a Work Style Intervention and a Lifestyle Physical Activity Intervention on the Recovery from Neck and Upper Limb Symptoms in Computer Workers. In Pain. November 2007. Vol. 132. No. I-2. Pp. 142-153.

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