Tactical Research Unit Report for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs: Spondylosis - A Rapid Review

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Abstract

[Executive Summary}
Spondylosis is a prevalent degenerative condition that can affect any region of the spine. Commonly associated with physically demanding occupations, it is one of the most frequent causes of worker’s compensation claims. However, the relationships between occupational risk factors and the clinical diagnosis of spondylosis are not clear. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to identify and review studies reporting on occupational risk factors for the development of spondylosis. A comprehensive systematic search of PubMed, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, ProQuest, Scopus, Embase, and Web of Science was performed using terms derived from three concepts: risk, paid occupations, and spondylosis. Six articles met the eligibility criteria. Cervical spondylosis was found to be more prevalent in workers carrying load on the head. Additionally, workers exposed to ‘mental-based’ activities, male workers exposed to vibration, and workers younger than 30 years of age who work in the same posture for a period ranging from 1 to 2.9 hours per day were all at increased risk of cervical spondylosis. Limited evidence was found to explore the relationships between occupational risk factors and thoracic spondylosis, with only one article included in this review exploring the topic. It appears that working for more than five years in ‘heavy manual labour’ is associated with a higher prevalence of spondylosis in the thoracic region, compared to ‘physically light work’; however, this is based on the narrative information from the authors stating that the difference between the groups was ‘significant’, without support of statistical data. The risk of developing lumbar spondylosis was found to be higher in carpenters, machine drivers, workers in agricultural, forestry, and fishery industries, and female workers who lift weights of more than 10kg at least once a week. One study assessed military populations and reported that the risk of developing lumbar spondylosis was highest in enlisted personnel and in those in the army. However, these findings do not elucidate the mechanisms behind the associations. Moreover, these results should be interpreted with caution, as the findings are mainly based on cross-sectional studies. Further high-quality cohort studies are warranted to explore this topic more comprehensively.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyDepartment of Veterans' Affairs
Number of pages57
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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