Monday, November 4, 2002
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Certain jobs appear to increase a person's risk of developing arthritis of the hand and wrist, according to researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
While there have been many previous studies investigating the connection between occupation and so-called "soft tissue" hand/wrist disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, few have looked at the relationship between work exposures and arthritis of the wrist and hand, the researchers report.
To investigate, lead author Dr. Charles Dillon of the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, and co-authors Drs. Martin Petersen and Shiro Tanaka of NIOSH in Bethesda, Maryland evaluated survey information from a national sample of 30,000 working adults. The participants answered questions about their job, hand and wrist discomfort, and whether or not a healthcare provider had diagnosed them with arthritis.
The highest prevalence of hand/wrist arthritis was seen among technicians, machine operators, assemblers and farmers, as well as in the mining, agriculture and construction industries, the authors report in the October issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
People who worked at jobs that required repetitive bending and twisting of the hands and wrists had a 43% increased risk of developing arthritis, the investigators found.
"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," Dillon and colleagues write.
Although more definitive studies need to confirm or refute the current findings, the researchers note that the findings do have a "general public health significance" given that many people have hand/wrist arthritis that could potentially be prevented by reducing certain risk factors at the workplace.
SOURCE: American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2002;42:318-327.