To assess the relative importance of personal and occupational risk factors for upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders in the working population.


A total of 3,710 workers (58% men) participating in a surveillance program of musculoskeletal disorders in a French region in 2002–2005 were included. Upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders were diagnosed by 83 trained occupational physicians performing a standardized physical examination. Personal factors and work exposure were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire. Statistical associations between musculoskeletal disorders, personal, and occupational factors were analyzed using logistic regression modeling.


A total of 472 workers experienced at least 1 upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorder. The risk of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders increased with age for both sexes (P < 0.001, odds ratio [OR] ≤4.9 in men and ≤5.0 in women), and in cases of prior history of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders (OR 3.1 and 5.0, respectively, P < 0.001). In men, upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders were associated with obesity (OR 2.2, P = 0.014), high level of physical demand (OR 2.0, P < 0.001), high repetitiveness of the task (OR 1.5, P = 0.027), postures with the arms at or above shoulder level (OR 1.7, P = 0.009) or with full elbow flexion (OR 1.6, P = 0.006), and high psychological demand (OR 1.5, P = 0.005). In women, upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders were associated with diabetes mellitus (OR 4.9, P = 0.001), postures with extreme wrist bending (OR 2.0, P < 0.001), use of vibrating hand tools (OR 2.2, P = 0.025), and low level of decision authority (OR 1.4, P = 0.042).


Personal and work-related physical and psychosocial factors were strongly associated with clinically diagnosed upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders.