To investigate the risk of radiographic knee osteoarthritis (OA) and lumbar spondylosis associated with occupational activity in elderly Japanese subjects using the large-scale population-based cohort of the Research on Osteoarthritis Against Disability (ROAD) study.
From the baseline survey of the ROAD study, 1,471 participants age ≥50 years (531 men and 940 women) living in mountainous and seacoast communities were analyzed. Information collected included a lifetime occupational history and details of specific work place physical activities. Radiographic severity at the knee and lumbar spine was determined by the Kellgren/Lawrence (K/L) grading system.
The prevalence of K/L grade ≥2 knee OA and lumbar spondylosis among agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers was significantly higher than among clerical workers and technical experts in the overall population. For occupational activities, sitting on a chair had a significant inverse association with K/L grade ≥2 knee OA and lumbar spondylosis. Standing, walking, climbing, and heavy lifting were associated with K/L grade ≥2 knee OA, but were not associated with K/L grade ≥2 lumbar spondylosis. Kneeling and squatting were associated with K/L grade ≥3 knee OA.
This cross-sectional study using a population-based cohort suggests that sitting on a chair is a significant protective factor against both radiographic knee OA and lumbar spondylosis in Japanese subjects. An occupational activity that includes heavy lifting appears to have a greater effect on knee OA than on lumbar spondylosis.