Occupational and genetic risk factors for osteoarthritis: a review

Work. 2015 Jan 1;50(2):261-73. doi: 10.3233/WOR-131739.


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a multifactorial disease with strong genetic and occupational components. Although published studies have described several risk factors for OA, very few studies have investigated the occupational and genetic factors that contribute to this debilitating condition.

Objective: To describe occupational and genetic factors that may contribute to the risk of developing (OA).

Methods: A literature search was conducted in PubMed using the search terms osteoarthritis, occupation, work, and genetics.

Results: Heavy physical work load was the most common occupational risk factor for OA in several anatomical locations. Other factors include kneeling and regular stair climbing, crawling, bending and whole body vibration, and repetitive movements. Numerous studies have also shown the influence of genetic variability in the pathogenesis of OA. Genetic variants of several groups of genes e.g., cartilage extracellular matrix structural genes and the genes related to bone density have been implicated in disease pathogenesis.

Conclusion: This review shows that occupational factors were extensively studied in knee OA unlike OA of other anatomical regions. Although genetic association studies performed to date identified a number of risk variants, some of these associations have not been consistently replicated across different studies and populations. Therefore, more research is needed.

Keywords: Joint disorders; genetics; joint pain; occupation; workers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Background*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupations / standards*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology*
  • Risk Factors