Symptom characteristics in office workers using standing workstations: A cross-sectional study

Michelle D. Smith*, Bill Vicenzino, Wendy J. Brown, Nicholas D. Gilson, Elise M. Gane, Venerina Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In some occupational groups, prolonged standing is associated with adverse symptoms. While the introduction of sit-stand workstations in office workers is increasingly common, the profile of symptom development is not known. 

Objectives: To identify and describe the location, intensity, quality, and timing of symptoms experienced by office workers while standing at a sit-stand workstation. 

Methods: This cross-sectional observational study was performed in an university campus laboratory simulated as an office with a sit-stand workstation. Sixty-three office workers without low back pain or prior exposure to a sit-stand workstation participated. For primary outcome measures, participants recorded any symptoms of pain, stiffness, and/or fatigue on a body chart every 15 min during a 2-hour standing task. Participants rated symptom intensity on an 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS). 

Results: Fifty-three participants (84%) experienced symptoms during the 2-hour standing task, with 30 participants (48%) reporting at least one symptom within 30 min of standing. A greater number of participants reported symptoms rated ≥2 on the NRS in the lumbar spine, lower extremity, and feet/ankle than the upper quadrant (odds ratios from 3.84 to 6.86). Mean maximal symptom intensity for the lumbar spine was greater than that for the upper quadrant and feet/ankles (incidence rate ratios: 1.46 to 1.79). 

Conclusion: Symptoms of pain, stiffness, and fatigue, especially those affecting the lumbar spine, lower extremity and feet/ankles are common in office workers who stand at a workstation. Study findings suggest that physical therapists should advise workers using sit-stand workstations to monitor symptoms and consider changing position within 30 min.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100393
JournalBrazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


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