Musculoskeletal Complaints in Transverse Upper Limb Reduction Deficiency and Amputation in The Netherlands: Prevalence, Predictors, and Effect on Health

Sietke G. Postema*, Raoul M. Bongers, Michael A. Brouwers, Helena Burger, Liselotte M. Norling-Hermansson, Michiel F. Reneman, Pieter U. Dijkstra, Corry K. van der Sluis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: (1) To determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints (MSCs) in individuals with upper limb absence in The Netherlands, (2) to assess the health status of individuals with upper limb absence in general and in relation to the presence of MSCs, and (3) to explore the predictors of development of MSCs and MSC-related disability in this population.

Design: Cross-sectional study: national survey.

Setting: Twelve rehabilitation centers and orthopedic workshops.

Participants: Individuals (n=263; mean age, 50.7 +/- 16.7y; 60% men) >= 18 years old, with transverse upper limb reduction deficiency (42%) or amputation (58%) at or proximal to the carpal level (response, 45%) and 108 individuals without upper limb reduction deficiency or amputation (n=108; mean age, 50.6 +/- 15.7y; 65% men) (N=371).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measures: Point and year prevalence of MSCs, MSC-related disability (Pain Disability Index), and general health perception and mental health (RAND-36 subscales).

Results: Point and year prevalence of MSCs were almost twice as high in individuals with upper limb absence (57% and 65%, respectively) compared with individuals without upper limb absence (27% and 34%, respectively) and were most often located in the nonaffected limb and upper back/neck. MSCs were associated with decreased general health perception and mental health and higher perceived upper extremity work demands. Prosthesis use was not related to presence of MSCs. Clinically relevant predictors of MSCs were middle age, being divorced/widowed, and lower mental health. Individuals with upper limb absence experienced more MSC-related disability than individuals without upper limb absence. Higher age, more pain, lower general and mental health, and not using a prosthesis were related to higher disability.

Conclusions: Presence of MSCs is a frequent problem in individuals with upper limb absence and is associated with decreased general and mental health. Mental health and physical work demands should be taken into account when assessing such a patient. Clinicians should note that MSC-related disability increases with age. (C) 2016 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1145
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2016
EventDutch Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 7-Nov-2014 → …


  • Amputation
  • Cumulative trauma disorders
  • Rehabilitation
  • Upper extremity
  • Upper extremity deformities
  • congenital
  • NECK
  • ARM

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