BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal pain is associated with demographic, occupational and physical factors. METHODS: Our study investigated the prevalence and factors associated with musculoskeletal pain in 911 women working in small-scale agriculture in rural northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa in 2006 using a questionnaire survey. RESULTS: In total, 67% (n = 574) of women reported any chronic musculoskeletal pain. The 12-month prevalence of pain ranged from 63.9% to 73.3% and the prevalence of specific chronic pain lasting more than 3 months ranged from 42.8% to 48.3%. Older age, carrying heavy loads, working with hands above shoulder height, and frequently squatting and kneeling were associated with chronic musculoskeletal pain. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of pain reported in our study, was similar to other developing countries, but considerably higher than in developed countries. Ergonomic interventions including improved and adapted work techniques and tools should be considered to reduce the prevalence of pain in our study population
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