The role of physical examination in the diagnosis of work-related upper limb musculoskeletal disorders

Coggon, D. (2007) The role of physical examination in the diagnosis of work-related upper limb musculoskeletal disorders. Med Lav (La Medicina del lavoro), 98, (2), 94-97.


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BACKGROUND: This paper argues that diagnostic criteria for upper limb disorders should be assessed according to their practical utility in distinguishing categories of illness that differ in their risk factors or in their prognosis and response to treatment.

METHODS: The starting point for defining disorders could be current clinical practice or empirical demonstration that certain symptoms and physical signs tend to cluster abnormally within individuals. Either way, it is necessary to test the performance of proposed diagnostic criteria in discriminating illness with distinctive risk factors or clinical outcomes. It is also important that diagnoses be repeatable within and between observers, at least in the short-term. Thus, methods for eliciting physical signs should as far as possible be standardised. To facilitate comparison between studies, it would help if consensus could be reached on the definitions and methods for eliciting relevant physical signs.

CONCLUSION: Currently, a wide range of upper limb disorders are distinguished by clinicians, but opinions differ on the entities that should make up diagnostic classifications, and on the criteria by which each entity should be defined. This paper considers the approaches by which epidemiologists should define and evaluate possible diagnostic systems, focusing in particular on the contribution to case definition from physical examination

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:
ISSNs: 0025-7818 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: epidemiology, occupational diseases, physical examination, methods, risk factors, treatment, humans, risk, paper, arm, classification, musculoskeletal diseases, prognosis, role, diagnosis
Subjects: R Medicine > RB Pathology
Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Community Clinical Sciences
ePrint ID: 61734
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:45

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