Objectives Little is known about the influence of occupational mechanical shoulder exposures on the development of acromioclavicular joint degeneration. We aimed to evaluate if arm elevation >90o, force requirements, and repetitive work are associated with acromioclavicular joint degeneration as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Method The study population participated in a study in 2000–2001, where we performed MRI examinations of the right shoulder of 136 right-handed, 40–50 year old men from a historical cohort of machinists, car mechanics, and house painters. In 2011–2012, we re-examined these men. Two radiologists evaluated the images, blinded to exposures status and symptoms. Acromioclavicular joint degeneration was registered in case of subchondral irregularities, joint capsule swelling with adjacent bone marrow oedema and/or subacromial spurs. Cumulative exposures since baseline were obtained by combining self-reported work histories with a job exposure matrix based on expert judgement. We applied multivariable logistic regression adjusted for measured BMI, questionnaire information on smoking, and age.
Results Of the original population, 129 could be invited, and 90 (70%) participated. Their mean age was 55.1 years (SD 2.8, range 50–60). The prevalence of acromioclavicular joint degeneration was 64% against 43% at baseline. Prevalent MRI findings showed a relation to forceful work: OR 4.0 (95% CI 1.3–12.1). Incident MRI findings were also related to forceful work, without reaching significance. Arm elevation and repetitive work were not associated with the outcome.
Conclusions Forceful work seems to be a risk factor for acromioclavicular joint degeneration as assessed by MRI at 50–60 years of age.
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