A literature review was used to evaluate the effectiveness of adjustable office chairs on reducing musculoskeletal (muscle, ligament, tendon and joint) pain in the workplace.
An extensive literature search uncovered 5 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Three of these were conducted in a factory setting, one took place in an office environment and the other took place on a university campus. Whilst the interventions were all slightly different they all included providing workers with more adjustable office chairs and most included training on how to use the chairs.
All of the studies reported that the chair intervention resulted in a significant reduction in self reported musculoskeletal discomfort. There was a lack of long term follow up in most studies and so the long term effects of ergonomic chair interventions are still not known.
Take home message
Whilst the evidence in this field is still in its infancy, the initial findings support the current practice of prescribing adjustable office chairs to individuals with musculoskeletal symptoms. It is worth noting that not all patients are likely to require new chairs and so clinicians should still use their clinical judgement when deciding whether or not to make a referral.
The effectiveness of a chair intervention in the workplace to reduce musculoskeletal symptoms. A systematic review: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012, 13:145