While arthritis primarily affects older individuals, it can also strike those in the prime of their working lives. And, for those dealing with knee osteoarthritis, their daily working routine can be a daunting challenge.
Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joints to become painful and stiff, leading to difficulty in moving the joint. Almost any joint can become arthritic, but it primarily effects the knees, hips, and hands. The pain from osteoarthritis stems from the protective cartilage at the end of the bones breaking down leading to the bones rubbing against each other.
One of the most significant challenges of working with knee osteoarthritis is that it’s an invisible condition and is thought to affect 1 in 5 adults over 45 in England1. Unlike a visible injury or disability, knee OA’s effects may not be readily apparent to coworkers and employers. This can lead to misunderstandings, scepticism, or even judgment from colleagues who may not fully comprehend the pain and limitations individuals with knee OA endure. Studies have shown that knee OA is strongly associated with early exit from work2.
Another significant issue surrounding working with knee OA is the debilitating pain. The constant discomfort and throbbing pain can make even the simplest tasks, like getting out of bed, feel like a monumental effort, let alone a full day’s work.
Many individuals with knee OA rely on pain medication, which can have its own set of challenges, including potential side effects. The most common medications for knee OA are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac; these drugs are responsible for approximately 5-10% of all medications prescribed each year3. Taking NSAIDs can lead to indigestion, headaches and drowsiness which could further impact someone’s performance at work.
Furthermore, knee OA can severely limit a person’s mobility. Climbing stairs, walking long distances, or standing for extended periods can be excruciating tasks. For those with jobs that require physical activity, such as retail or construction, the challenges are even more pronounced. Finding ways to adapt to these limitations while maintaining job performance can be incredibly stressful.
Likewise, the issues surrounding living with knee OA can also impact their productivity, the need for frequent breaks may disrupt their workflow, and the condition can also take its toll on an individual’s mental health. In these cases, individuals living with knee OA should try to openly communicate with their employer and colleagues to better understand and support their condition.
Other accommodations can also be made. For example, those who spend long periods of time at desks should walk around, taking a break from their desk every 20-30 minutes and use a footrest if their feet don’t easily reach the floor4.
MAC Clinical Research understand the challenges that come with living with knee OA and are committed to improving the quality of life for those living with the condition through groundbreaking clinical trials, researching into potential new treatments.
To be notified of future arthritis clinical trials at MAC Clinical Research for visit our future trials page. and submit your details to register your details to join our volunteer database.
If you’re eligible for a future clinical trial at MAC, you’ll receive travel expenses to and from our clinics.
All our clinical trials are free to take part in, and you’ll receive a full health check-up from one of our trained medical professionals as part of the trial. Depending on the trial, you may also receive financial reimbursement for your time and commitment to the research.
1 Arthritis Research UK – Prevalence of osteoarthritis in England and local authorities: Birmingham
3 Aging and Disease – A Comprehensive Review of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Use in The Elderly
4 Arthritis Foundation – Office Ergonomics: Tips for Arranging a Healthy Workspace