Background: There is a paucity of population-based studies examining occupational hand-wrist arthritis. We examined relationships between hand-wrist arthritis, occupation, and biomechanical exposures in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey-Occupational Health Supplement.
Methods: A randomized, multi-stage, and cross-sectional national prevalence survey was carried out.
Results: Self-reported, medically attended hand-wrist arthritis was common among employed persons (period prevalence 1.58%; lifetime prevalence 3.58%). Highest prevalences occurred among technicians, machine operators, assemblers, and farmers, and in the mining, agriculture, and construction industries. Work requiring repetitive hand bending and twisting was associated with hand-wrist arthritis (Odds Ratio 1.43; 95%CI: 1.11-1.84; P = 0.005). Among workers with hand arthritis, 7.4% had made major changes in their work, 7.6% missed work, and 4.5% stopped working or changed jobs because of the problem.
Conclusions: Our study links hand-wrist arthritis to occupation and potentially modifiable workplace ergonomic factors. The spectrum of hand-wrist "cumulative trauma" disorders may considerably exceed that of soft-tissue injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, and may include arthritis, a widely prevalent, disabling condition.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.