Shoulder pain at the workplace

Ernst Shanahan, Ruth Sladek

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Shoulder pain is among the most common of regional musculoskeletal complaints in the work environment. It is also a very common problem in the broader community. A challenge to health professionals working in this area is that only a small proportion of shoulder pain at work can be explained by conditions that are readily identifiable (such as rotator cuff disease) and can be adequately managed in a medical model. A greater proportion of shoulder pain at work cannot be understood in this way, and standard medical management is unlikely to offer the best chance of recovery. Furthermore, current research suggests that traditional work-related associations and risk factors only explain a minor part of the total problem and that ergonomic approaches focussing on primary prevention are also unlikely to adequately address the problem. This article examines recent research in the area of work-associated shoulder pain. It focusses on the recent literature examining classification of shoulder pain, and the assessment, management and prognosis of this challenging, regional musculoskeletal pain problem and argues for a more encompassing approach to its management.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)59-68
    Number of pages10
    JournalBest Practice & Research in Clinical Rheumatology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


    • Biopsychosocial model
    • Classification
    • Work-related shoulder pain


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