Risk factors for development of lower limb osteoarthritis in physically demanding occupations: A narrative umbrella review

Ben Schram*, Robin Orr, Rodney Pope, Elisa Canetti, Joseph Knapik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVES: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disorder which affects the joints. As relationships between occupational factors and lower limb OA have been widely studied in systematic reviews, the aim of this umbrella review was to synthesize their key findings in the risk factors for development of lower limb OA.

METHODS: A systematic search was conducted using the databases PUBMED, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Elton B Stevens Company to identify reviews examining associations between lower limb OA and occupational tasks. These reviews were rated for their methodological quality before key data were extracted and synthesized.

RESULTS: Sixteen reviews were found, seven pertained to the knee, four to the hip, two to a variety of joints, and three to both the hip and knee. One was deemed to be of high methodological quality, one of critically low methodological quality, and the others of moderate methodological quality. The reviews found moderate to good evidence for heavy occupational lifting to be associated with an increased risk of OA at the knee and the hip. Kneeling, squatting, and climbing, previous injuries to joints, being overweight and obese were also predictive of lower limb OA.

CONCLUSION: Occupations which involve heavy physical workloads increase the risk of developing lower limb OA. Heavy lifting, squatting, knee bending, kneeling, and climbing may all increase the risk of developing OA in both the knees and hips. Efforts to reduce exposure to these tasks, reducing joint injuries, optimizing bodyweight may reduce the risks of lower limb OA for occupations which are physically demanding.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12103
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Occupational Health
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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