Prevalence of spinal complaints with office employees - a cross-sectional study

Project No. BG36 #036


completed 12/1996


In epidemiological studies of occupational related illnesses of the lumbar vertebral column, employees with sedentary office jobs are preferentially brought in as a low risk control group. The approach is contentious, however, it is certain that static, bad posture represents a risk for the upper spine and shoulder-arm area. Goal: determining the prevalence of spinal complaints in office workers; determining the connections between spinal strain and workplace ergonomics; determining the ergonomic quality of office workplaces


Written questioning of 1720 employees from 43 administrative bodies (59 % civil service) with regard to back complaints, workplace ergonomics, physical strains beyond work, psycho-social factors


62 % indicated musculoskeletal or joint pains, 43 % pains in the lumbar vertebral column area: the estimated prevalence of lumbar syndrome lay between 23 and 58 % (when working in front of computer screens approximately 8 % higher). The estimated prevalence over an entire life-span was between 45 and 85 % (population average: 28 to 50 %). There was a significantly increased prevalence of cervical vertebral column complaints at workplaces in front of computer screens. A large number of deficits were found in the ergonomic structuring of office workplaces; no significant influence on spinal complaints could, however, be proven.


Michaelis, Nübling, Peinecke, Stößel, Hofmann: Zur arbeitsmedizinischen Bedeutung des Lumbal- und Zervikalsyndroms bei Büroangestellten. Arbeitsmed. Sozialmed. Umweltmed. 32 (1997) S. 368-374

Last Update:

22 Aug 2000


Financed by:
  • Berufsgenossenschaft für Gesundheitsdienst und Wohlfahrtspflege
Research institution(s):
  • Universität Freiburg
  • Abteilung für medizinische Soziologie
  • Freiburger Forschungsstelle Arbeits- und Sozialmedizin
  • Lehrstuhl für Arbeitsphysiologie
  • Universität/Gesamthochschule Wuppertal
  • Berufsgenossenschaftlicher Arbeitsmedizinischer Dienst
  • Rendsburg

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

work-related diseases


Epidemiologie, Gesundheitliche Beeinträchtigungen und Störungen, Ergonomie

Description, key words:

Correlation of spinal complaints with working conditions in the office