Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1984;10(6):429-433    pdf


Arthrosis and its relation to work.

by Anderson JA

Data are presented to illustrate the inadequacy of routinely collected data on osteoarthrosis when disability and handicap are considered as distinct from impairment. In a series of prevalence studies of mixed manual workers aged 15 to 65 years in the United Kingdom 11% had diagnosable osteoarthrosis of the limbs, 2% had generalized osteoarthrosis, and 11% had vague pains of undetermined diagnosis in the limb joints. Annual sickness absence was 580 d/100 affected men for those with local osteoarthrosis and 539 d/100 and 80 d/100, respectively, for those with generalized osteoarthrosis and vague limb pain. These and other indicators of disablement (hospital attendance and admission, self therapy, and consultation with general practitioners) suggest that osteoarthrosis makes a significant contribution to the handicap of manual workers. There was no significant difference in the prevalence rates between skilled and unskilled dockyard workers; this finding contrasts with the significantly higher rates for osteoarthrosis at all ages among coal miners working in awkward postures in confined spaces than among weight-lifting manual workers in other occupations. Direct observation and assessment of specific tasks support the hypothesis that posture may be more important than weight lifting as a risk factor in the onset of osteoarthrosis.