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Management of work-relevant upper limb disorders: a review

Burton, A. Kim, Kendall, Nicholas A.S., Pearce, Brian G., Birrell, Lisa N. and Bainbridge, Christopher (2008) Management of work-relevant upper limb disorders: a review. Occupational Medicine, 59 (1). pp. 44-52. ISSN 09627480

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Background Upper limb disorders (ULDs) are clinically challenging and responsible for considerable work loss. There is a need to determine effective approaches for their management.

Aim To determine evidence-based management strategies for work-relevant ULDs and explore whether a biopsychosocial approach is appropriate.

Methods Literature review using a best evidence synthesis. Data from articles identified through systematic searching of electronic databases and citation tracking were extracted into evidence tables. The information was synthesized into high-level evidence statements, which were ordered into themes covering classification/diagnosis, epidemiology, associations/risks and management/treatment, focusing on return to work or work retention and taking account of distinctions between non-specific complaints and specific diagnoses.

Results Neither biomedical treatment nor ergonomic workplace interventions alone offer an optimal solution; rather, multimodal interventions show considerable promise, particularly for occupational outcomes. Early return to work, or work retention, is an important goal for most cases and may be facilitated, where necessary, by transitional work arrangements. The emergent evidence indicates that successful management strategies require all the players to be onside and acting in a coordinated fashion; this requires engaging employers and workers to participate.

Conclusions The biopsychosocial model applies: biological considerations should not be ignored, but psychosocial factors are more influential for occupational outcomes. Implementation of interventions that address the full range of psychosocial issues will require a cultural shift in the way the relationship between upper limb complaints and work is conceived and handled. Dissemination of evidence-based messages can contribute to the needed cultural shift.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
School of Human and Health Sciences > Centre for Applied Psychological Research
School of Human and Health Sciences > Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Briony Heyhoe
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2009 15:04
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 22:09


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