Outcomes comparison of treatment for chronic disabling work-related upper-extremity disorders and spinal disorders

Tom G. Mayer, Robert Joseph Gatchel, Peter B. Polatin, Trent H. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since 1986, the percentage of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UEMSDs) has increased from 1% to 4% of all occupational injury claims, while the average total medical and compensation cost is 80% higher than the average of all other claims. Because chronic disability leads to the highest cost, systematic evaluation of this growing occupational condition is needed. We performed a prospective case-series cohort study of patients (n = 163) with UEMSDs, compared with a matched group of spinal disorder (SD) patients (n = 163) treated with the same protocol. UEMSD patients were subclassified as those with one or more neuropathic diagnoses or those with non-neuropathic diagnoses. The neuropathic UEMSD subgroup had the poorest outcomes, with significantly higher surgery rates, higher health care utilization rates, and lower work retention when compared with the SD group. Rehabilitation outcomes for UEMSDs are similar to those for SDs. However, neuropathic-diagnosis patients are at risk for high-cost injuries and/or poorer prognoses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-770
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Volume41
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 1999

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