Jeff Stickney, MD

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Is Your Job Putting You at Risk for Hip Osteoarthritis?


constructionOsteoarthritis of the hip, which causes the cartilage that cushions your joints to be lost, can be extremely painful and negatively affect one’s quality of life. Could your job be putting you at risk for hip osteoarthritis (HOA) and if so, what can you do about it? A new study takes a closer look.

In the last decade, there has been an influx of studies searching for an association between occupational strain and the risk of developing hip osteoarthritis. The published studies conclude that there is a basic link between occupations involving physically demanding work and the development of HOA. A new study, published by Deutsches Aerzteblatt International, explores a new systematic survey of the previous literature. The goal? To identify ways of preventing occupational HOA if the link between physically demanding work and HOA was indeed present.

The study takes a look at five cohort studies along with 18 case-control studies that were found suitable for inclusion. The researchers found that years of physically demanding work consisting of activities such as dealing with heavy loads, heavy manual work or prolonged walking and standing increases the risk of HOA (and eventually total hip replacement) by 150% in men and 40% in women. The new study found that even though the evidence base for risk assessment in women is currently inadequate (most previous studies didn’t explore occupations where women predominate, such as nursing), the greater the exposure to physically demanding work, the greater the risk for HOA.

The study explored recommendations for preventive measures and further research that should be conducted in the future:

  1. Loads of 45lbs or more should NOT be lifted without mechanical assistance.
  2. With the goal of detecting signs of HOA as early as possible, preventive occupational medicine should include examination of the hip after no more than 15-20 years in a relevant occupation.
  3. Since the limited available data do not show any meaningful effect of training and exercise on the progression of HOA in the occupational content, any measure taken should aim at reducing the amount of strain.
  4. Workers who need to change their job should take advantage of the occupational rehabilitation programs offered by health insurance providers and pension insurance funds.

Questions about HOA or joint replacement surgeryDr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in hip replacement surgery, sports medicine and more. Contact Dr. Stickney and return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle!