We all know that improper lifting of heavy objects can lead to back injuries and other musculoskeletal problems. But researchers in the Netherlands have discovered that workers with jobs requiring heavy lifting might have an increased risk of osteoarthritis in their hips.
In an article published in a recent issue of the Journal of Rheumatology, Dr. Annet Lievense and collegues at University Hospital in Rotterdam reviewed a number of studies to determine the causes of hip osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, which can lead not only to pain, but to reduced mobility.
The researchers found a "positive association" between "previous heavy physical workload and the occurrence of hip osteoarthritis." In fact, a work history of heavy lifting appeared to triple the risk of the disease, said Lievense.
Researchers also reviewed occupational exposure in an effort to determine who is most at risk of developing the disease. Working on a farm for more than 10 years and working at a job that required routine lifting of objects weighing more than 55 pounds were also linked to increased risk of osteoarthritis, according to the study.
Although "the precise risk for the increased risk remains uncertain," said researchers, they speculated that "people with highly physically demanding jobs may obtain treatment earlier or more often than people in less demanding occupations. Not necessarily because they have a higher incidence of osteoarthritis, but possibly because they are more handicapped by it when it occurs." Therefore, noted Lievense and her team, those workers might be overrepresented in the study.
by Sandy Smith ([email protected])