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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Computer work and musculoskeletal disorders of the neck and upper extremity: A systematic review

Morten Wærsted*, Therese N Hanvold and Kaj Bo Veiersted

Author Affiliations

National Institute of Occupational Health, PO Box 8149 Dep, N-0033 Oslo, Norway

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010, 11:79  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-79

Published: 29 April 2010



This review examines the evidence for an association between computer work and neck and upper extremity disorders (except carpal tunnel syndrome).


A systematic critical review of studies of computer work and musculoskeletal disorders verified by a physical examination was performed.


A total of 22 studies (26 articles) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Results show limited evidence for a causal relationship between computer work per se, computer mouse and keyboard time related to a diagnosis of wrist tendonitis, and for an association between computer mouse time and forearm disorders. Limited evidence was also found for a causal relationship between computer work per se and computer mouse time related to tension neck syndrome, but the evidence for keyboard time was insufficient. Insufficient evidence was found for an association between other musculoskeletal diagnoses of the neck and upper extremities, including shoulder tendonitis and epicondylitis, and any aspect of computer work.


There is limited epidemiological evidence for an association between aspects of computer work and some of the clinical diagnoses studied. None of the evidence was considered as moderate or strong and there is a need for more and better documentation.