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Risk of Knee Osteoarthritis Almost Doubles at Work

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Knee osteoarthritis is twice as likely to develop in people whose work involves a high level of occupational activities according to a new study. Kneeling, squatting, climbing stairs or ladders and heavy lifting are all activities that increase the likelihood of experiencing osteoarthritis.

The findings, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, demonstrated “strong evidence for an occupational hazard of knee OA resulting from prolonged kneeling and squatting.” This adds to the list of other established risk factors such as older age, being female, and obesity.

The team of British researchers followed 518 patients over a two-year period who were waiting to have knee surgery, including total knee arthroplasty, osteotomy or patellar replacement. Patients were interviewed about previous knee injuries and about the specific occupational activities involved in every job they had held since leaving school, such as lifting, kneeling and squatting.

Those people who had a history of excessive kneeling and squatting had double the risk of developing OA compared to people who only performed occupational lifting. Even more alarming was the finding that people whose jobs involved all three activities had three times the risk of OA.

Such hazards require considerable preventative measures, commented the researchers. “It would seem sensible to avoid prolonged work in such postures. Where avoidance of kneeling is not practical, the use of knee pads is already recommended.” They also suggested that reducing other controllable risk factors may be beneficial, for example, avoiding obesity in people whose jobs involve a high level of kneeling or squatting.

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