Arthritis in the Workplace

Arthritis in the Workplace

For the older people in the United States, there’s no rest for the wicked. For the first time in more than 50 years, the labor participation rate for the group hit the 20-percent mark. About 53% of these are college-educated 65-year-olds.

Their presence in the workforce provides a unique challenge. Companies can maximize their vast experience in the field. But they are also more prone to health issues, unlike the younger generation. For instance, many of them might already be suffering from joint problems such as arthritis.

Fortunately, businesses can learn to invest in ergonomic designs like a sit-stand workstation to help overcome these problems.

How Bad Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a broad term for conditions that result in painful, tender, and swelling joints. It covers diseases such as:

  • Osteoarthritis, which is the gradual deterioration of the cushion in between the joints
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the joints
  • Juvenile arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease affecting children 16 years old and below
  • Psoriatic arthritis, which is arthritis common among people with a skin disease known as psoriasis

About 54 million or 23% of the American population have arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over 55% of these, however, are working-age people.

Between 2013 and 2015, more than 7% of them were 18 and 44 years old. Nearly 50% of 65-years old and above had been diagnosed with the disease.

As a person ages, the risks of arthritis also go up. Besides the natural deterioration of the joints, age is also a common facto for arthritis-related chronic diseases. These include obesity, heart disorder, and diabetes.

Arthritis is not only prevalent but also expensive. The annual direct medical costs already reach over $140 million. It is also one of the causes of disability, which means years-long spending on health care.

Arthritis in the Workplace

joint pain at work

People with arthritis, especially older adults, are more likely to miss a lot of workdays. A 2015 study revealed that those with rheumatoid arthritis might be absent for about 14 days a year. This could amount to more than $250 million lost revenues annually.

These individuals can suffer from aching joints and inflammation that can prevent them from even doing simple tasks like driving or even getting out of bed. Others might be in too much pain to concentrate at work.

The design of the workplace can also contribute to worsening symptoms. Prolonged standing and sitting can promote joint stiffness. Employees are the lifeblood of any business, and it’s the responsibility of the company to look after their welfare when they are in the workplace.

They might be able to help those with arthritis beginning with investments in ergonomics. It is a science that involves refining the physical elements of an object to optimize human use. An example is a workstation one can adjust so they can stand or sit.

For people with arthritis, this allows them to improve joint mobility by limiting long periods of sitting and standing. It’s a simple change that can have a significant health impact.