The prevalence of osteoarthritic symptoms of the hands amongst female massage therapists
Background: Numerous occupations increase one's risk of developing osteoarthritis. Massage therapists rely heavily on their hands and cumulative hand strain injuries that occur whilst performing a massage may lead to the development of osteoarthritic symptoms. Females are at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis. Furthermore age weight, genetic predisposition; working years, working hours as well as body mass index all increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Objective: This study sought to investigate the prevalence of osteoarthritic symptoms of the hands amongst female massage therapists, as well as to establish both an average age of symptomatic onset and whether their daily work productivity was influenced.
Materials and methods: Since the massage industry is predominantly practiced by females, female massage therapists, irrespective of age and registered with a South African Regulating Body were included. Participants were required to complete a self-administered questionnaire which evaluated age, self-reported symptomatic presence of and family history of osteoarthritis, and body mass index. Participants also completed the AUSCAN™ Hand Osteoarthritis Index LK3.1 (Australian/Canadian Hand Osteoarthritis Index) which assesses pain, disability and joint stiffness of the hands. The sample was divided into two groups based on the presence or absence of self-reported symptoms. All gathered data was analysed by the University of Johannesburg's statistics department (Statkon) by use of IBM SPSS Statistics software version 21.
Results: The mean age of symptomatic presentation was 43 years. The AUSCAN™ Index found that more than half of the total sample reported osteoarthritic symptoms in their hands. Participants in the non-symptomatic group also indicated a positive response to symptoms on the AUSCAN™ Index although they did not self-report a symptomatic onset age.
Conclusion: In this sample, massage therapists experienced osteoarthritic symptoms that cause pain and stiffness in their hands. It also seemed evident that the symptoms experienced were also responsible for placing strain on their ability to perform daily tasks. This study serves as a basis for further dialogue, research and professional awareness.
Keywords: Osteoarthritis, AUSCAN 3.1 Osteoarthritis Index, Questionnaire, Massage, Somatology, Therapist, Occupation
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