JOURNAL ARTICLE

Occupation and epicondylitis: a population-based study

Karen Walker-Bone, Keith T Palmer, Isabel Reading, David Coggon, Cyrus Cooper
Rheumatology 2012, 51 (2): 305-10
22019808

OBJECTIVE: To explore the relationship between occupational exposures and lateral and medial epicondylitis, and the effect of epicondylitis on sickness absence in a population sample of working-aged adults.

METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study of 9696 randomly selected adults aged 25-64 years involving a screening questionnaire and standardized physical examination. Age- and sex-specific prevalence rates of epicondylitis were estimated and associations with occupational risk factors explored.

RESULTS: Among 6038 respondents, 636 (11%) reported elbow pain in the last week. Of those surveyed, 0.7% were diagnosed with lateral epicondylitis and 0.6% with medial epicondylitis. Lateral epicondylitis was associated with manual work [odds ratio (OR) 4.0, 95% CI 1.9, 8.4]. In multivariate analyses, repetitive bending/straightening elbow >1 h day was independently associated with lateral (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.2, 5.5) and medial epicondylitis (OR 5.1, 95% CI 1.8, 14.3). Five per cent of adults with epicondylitis took sickness absence because of their elbow symptoms in the past 12 months (median 29 days).

CONCLUSION: Repetitive exposure to bending/straightening the elbow was a significant risk factor for medial and lateral epicondylitis. Epicondylitis is associated with prolonged sickness absence in 5% of affected working-aged adults.

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