Occupation and risk of knee osteoarthritis and knee replacement: A longitudinal, multiple-cohort study

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2020 Oct;50(5):1006-1014. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2020.08.003. Epub 2020 Aug 8.


Objectives: To examine the effect of occupation on knee osteoarthritis (OA) and total knee replacement (TKR) in working-aged adults.

Methods: We used longitudinal data from the Chingford, Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) and Multicentre Osteoarthritis (MOST) studies. Participants with musculoskeletal disorders and/or a history of knee-related surgery were excluded. Participants were followed for up to 19-years (Chingford), 96-months (OAI) and 60-months (MOST) for incident outcomes including radiographic knee OA (RKOA), symptomatic RKOA and TKR. In those with baseline RKOA, progression was defined as the time from RKOA incidence to primary TKR. Occupational job categories and work-place physical activities were assigned to levels of workload. Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between workload and incident outcomes with survival analyses used to assess progression (reference group: sedentary occupations).

Results: Heavy manual occupations were associated with a 2-fold increased risk (OR: 2.07, 95% CI 1.03 to 4.15) of incident RKOA in the OAI only. Men working in heavy manual occupations in MOST (2.7, 95% CI 1.17 to 6.26) and light manual occupations in OAI (2.00, 95% CI 1.09 to 3.68) had a 2-fold increased risk of incident RKOA. No association was observed among women. Increasing workload was associated with an increased risk of symptomatic RKOA in the OAI and MOST. Light work may be associated with a decreased risk of incident TKR and disease progression.

Conclusion: Heavy manual work carries an increased risk of incident knee OA; particularly among men. Workload may influence the occurrence of TKR and disease progression.

Keywords: Knee osteoarthritis; Occupation; Work-place activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee* / adverse effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / etiology
  • Risk Factors