IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Rehabilitation of workers with knee osteoarthritis

  •   October 27, 2015

The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST), in collaboration with the Réseau provincial de recherche en adaptation-réadaptation (REPAR-FRSQ), has just published a literature review of the risk factors associated with the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis (knee OA), the quality and relevance of the evaluation instruments used during rehabilitation, and clinician interventions. The specialists estimate that by 2026, two-thirds of people aged 55 to 64 will develop knee OA, a disease that often causes functional limitations and chronic disabilities and complicates the return to work.

“It was important to carry out this critical review of the literature to support clinicians and health professionals, given the large number of scientific publications on knee OA in a variety of research areas. It has become difficult for people who provide care and services to make sense of such an abundance of information, let alone to use it effectively. This is where our study proves useful, particularly in this day and age when it is highly likely that people have longer working lives,” specifies the principal author of the study, Nathaly Gaudreault, Ph.D., physiotherapist.

The most significant risk factors associated with knee OA and for which strong or moderate evidence exists include advancing age, being female, obesity, high body mass index (BMI), performing work in kneeling or squatting positions, handling heavy loads, high-intensity physical activities performed over a long period, and high bone mineral density. Regarding evaluation instruments, while most of them are valid and reliable, the researchers found that there is a need for them to be developed or validated.

Lastly, the study concluded that, among other things, there is no miracle treatment or therapy for people suffering from knee OA but regular physical exercise is recommended, that hyaluronic acid injections are effective but have neither immediate nor lasting effects, and that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have great benefits but are only short-term solutions and have side effects.

The Literature Review of Risk Factors, Evaluation Instruments, and Care and Service Interventions for Knee Osteoarthritis can be consulted free of charge at


Jacques Millette
Public Affairs Officer