Osteoarthritis Risk Higher for Cleaners, Construction Work

Early onset common in heavy labor; 40% report symptoms before age 50

FRIDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Workers in labor-intensive jobs have the highest prevalence of knee, hip and hand osteoarthritis, with females working as cleaners or in the clothing industry and men working in construction at the highest risk, according to a study in the November issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Michel Rossignol, M.D., of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and colleagues collected data on 2,834 French workers with osteoarthritis, excluding housewives and armed services personnel, who presented with osteoarthritis of the knee, hip or hand.

The highest prevalence rate ratios occurred in female cleaners (6.2); self-employed workers in the construction, mechanics, clothing and food sectors (5.0); salaried workers in the construction, mechanics, clothing and food sectors (3.2); and farm workers (2.7). In the most labor-intensive jobs, 40% of workers said their first symptoms developed before age 50.

"The early onset and severity of osteoarthritis in certain occupations warrants an urgent need for occupation-specific studies for the development and evaluation of preventive strategies in this leading cause of disability in Western countries," the authors state.

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