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The role of cumulative physical work load in symptomatic knee osteoarthritis – a case-control study in Germany

Author(s): Seidler Andreas | Bolm-Audorff Ulrich | Abolmaali Nasreddin | Elsner Gine

Journal: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
ISSN 1745-6673

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 14;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Objectives To examine the dose-response relationship between cumulative exposure to kneeling and squatting as well as to lifting and carrying of loads and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA) in a population-based case-control study. Methods In five orthopedic clinics and five practices we recruited 295 male patients aged 25 to 70 with radiographically confirmed knee osteoarthritis associated with chronic complaints. A total of 327 male control subjects were recruited. Data were gathered in a structured personal interview. To calculate cumulative exposure, the self-reported duration of kneeling and squatting as well as the duration of lifting and carrying of loads were summed up over the entire working life. Results The results of our study support a dose-response relationship between kneeling/squatting and symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. For a cumulative exposure to kneeling and squatting > 10.800 hours, the risk of having radiographically confirmed knee osteoarthritis as measured by the odds ratio (adjusted for age, region, weight, jogging/athletics, and lifting or carrying of loads) is 2.4 (95% CI 1.1–5.0) compared to unexposed subjects. Lifting and carrying of loads is significantly associated with knee osteoarthritis independent of kneeling or similar activities. Conclusion As the knee osteoarthritis risk is strongly elevated in occupations that involve both kneeling/squatting and heavy lifting/carrying, preventive efforts should particularly focus on these "high-risk occupations".
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