Walker-Bone, Karen, Palmer, Keith T., Reading, Isabel, Coggon, David and Cooper, Cyrus
Occupation and epicondylitis: a population-based study
Rheumatology, 51, (2), . (doi:10.1093/rheumatology/ker228). (PMID:22019808).
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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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