Background Farming activity is burdened work with excessive use of hands. Thus, farmers are expected to have high prevalence of hand osteoarthritis (HOA). However, there is a lack of studies investigating prevalence and characteristics of HOA in Korean farmers.
Objectives To estimate the prevalence of HOA among farmers in rural areas of Korea and assess whether HOA is related to farming activity.
Methods The study was carried out from June 2013 to Dec 2014 with 700 farmers in Gyeong-nam Province of Korea. Clinical evaluation for hand joints was performed by rheumatologists and the plain radiographs of both hands were taken. The Australian/Canadian Osteoarthritis Hand Index (AUSCAN) was used to assess symptoms and function of hand joints. Radiographic HOA was defined as Kellgren–Lawrence (KL) grade≥2 on plain radiographs and symptomatic HOA as KL grade≥2 with pain/aching/stiffness at the same joints. Severe HOA was defined KL grade≥3. Presence of HOA at individual level was defined as ≥1 affected joint.
Results Participants comprised of 53% female and 47% male with mean age of 59.7±8.6 years. As divided types of growing crops, persimmon growers, strawberry growers, rice growers, and persimmon plus rice growers were 28.6%, 27.0%, 11.7%, 23.0%, respectively. The prevalence of radiographic, symptomatic, and severe HOA was 59.1%, 13.9%, and 24.4%, respectively. Finger joints were affected in 51.4% and thumb joints in 34.1%. Interestingly, male farmers showed high prevalence of radiographic HOA (55.9%) and symptomatic HOA (13.0%). The prevalence of HOA was similar in both hands and increased with longer duration of farming. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed a significant association of age, female sex, and body mass index with radiographic HOA. As adjusted for determinants above, rice growers were associated with an increased risk of HOA (odds ratio 3.5; 95% confidence interval 1.71 to 7.21). AUSCAN score was high in female and increased according to the severity of HOA.
Conclusions The prevalence of HOA in male is high, and related to types of growing crops. Therefore, this study suggests that development of HOA is associated with farming activity.
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Acknowledgements This study was supported by a grant of the Center for Farmer's Safety and Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Republic of Korea.
Disclosure of Interest None declared