An Analysis of Self-Reported Joint Pain among New York Farmers

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Hallman, Eric M.;
  • May, John J.;
  • Gomez, Marta I.;
  • Hwang, Syni–An;
  • Pantea, Cristian I.;
  • Stark, Alice D.


Data from the telephone interview portion of the New York State Farm Family Health and Hazard Surveillance Project were used to study the prevalence and predictors of joint pain in a cohort of farmers and farm residents. The participants were owner/operators, workers, and residents from a representative sample of farms from 12 New York counties. A total of 1706 participants completed a telephone interview on musculoskeletal conditions. Joint trouble was defined as self-reported aches, pain, or discomfort in the past year in each of five different joint areas. The 12-month prevalence of joint trouble was: lower back 41%, neck/shoulders 35%, knees 29%, hands/wrists 28%, and hips 15%. Using logistic regression modeling, significant risk factors for joint trouble were identified (p < 0.05). Older age and being female increased the risk of aches, pain, or discomfort in most joints. Being the owner/operator increased the risk of neck/shoulder and lower back trouble, and being a worker increased the risk of neck/shoulder trouble. Doing tractor work was associated with trouble in all five joint areas, and milking was associated with knee trouble. These findings indicate that personal risk factors and the intensity and nature of the farm work contribute to joint trouble. Ergonomic improvements to tractors and milking facilities should be a high priority.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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