Arthritic aches and pains are a major issue in our ageing workforce. According to Professor Paul Hodges from University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences body aches, pains and injuries are the second most expensive cause of lost productivity at work and health care expenditure in Australia. Only cardiovascular disease costs our society more.
With arthritis making up a significant proportion of our injuries and pains, the big concern is that so many people are being left with the impression by well-meaning health professionals that arthritis is an inevitable part of ageing. Although arthritic pains may become more common as you age does that mean that arthritis is caused by old age?
Surely if arthritis was caused by old age then all of your body would be worn out to the same degree because it is the same age. But in reality you will find that arthritic change is more advanced in some parts of your body compared to others completely dismissing the myth that old age causes arthritis.
With arthritic aches and pains interfering with the productivity of our ageing workforce and the quality of our lives it is important to understand what actually causes arthritis?
Arthritis is the degeneration of joints as a result of three common scenarios:
1) After joints have been damaged by injury or trauma
Particularly severe injury that physically damages a joint beyond its capacity to repair itself will inevitably result in some arthritic changes. It is very difficult to prevent arthritic change in this instance. However the amount of arthritic change can be limited by addressing the following two areas.
2) Excessive load being placed on joints due to poor alignment or poor posture
Car tyres can wear out unevenly and prematurely due to poor alignment and so can the joints in your body. When you have an upright and balanced posture your body weight is evenly distributed throughout your body. However, poor posture and alignment causes the weight to be unevenly distributed with some areas getting off lightly and other areas getting worn out by the excessive load.
3) Lack of joint flexibility resulting from a lack of use
If you do not routinely stretch your joints out fully and move them around, the lack of movement will limit the amount of nutrition to the joints. This effectively begins to starve the joint surfaces of the necessary ingredients required to be able to maintain a healthy joint. It backs up the old adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
To limit or prevent the possibility of arthritis affecting your work life get some advice or treatment to help improve your posture and physical alignment. Health professionals such as chiropractors, physiotherapists, or podiatrists have a lot greater training and expertise in this area than compared with your local GP.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is also vital. Exercise and movement programs such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Feldenkrais and the Alexander Technique are very gentle ways of improving joint and muscular flexibility and balance without placing a large strain on your joints.
Arthritis doesn’t have to become an inevitable accessory to a long and successful life and career. There are a host of additional lifestyle modifications that can discourage and limit the development of arthritis. So even if you currently are exhibiting some signs of arthritis, you are not doomed to a life of anti-inflammatory medication and a future date at the operating theater