Have you heard the one about the office worker, the hairstylist, and the jackhammer operator? No? That’s not surprising because this isn’t the preamble to a joke. These three jobs at face value appear vastly different but they have at least one thing in common: they are all occupations that can cause the painful and often debilitating condition of arthritis. And that’s definitely no laughing matter.
New York-based Everyday Health, which provides online information on health issues, points out that any job requiring people to go through the same movements day after day puts them at risk of developing arthritis, and it warns: “Arthritis can strike people in fields from manufacturing to music if they don’t take prevention strategies seriously.”
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, according to the Atlanta-based Arthritis Foundation. The most prevalent of these, says another US organization, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, is degenerative or mechanical arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis. This condition is caused by damage to the cartilage, the connective tissue found between the joint bones.
Cartilage is a vital, structural component of the body and is softer and much more flexible than bone, helping joints to move smoothly. However, if cartilage starts to become thinner and rougher from years of repetitive wear and tear, the bones of the joint can rub together, causing pain and damage. In severe cases, the ends of bones begin to wear away, deforming the joint and forcing bones out of position.
Degenerative arthritis is common among older people and can result from damage to a joint, such as a fracture or previous inflammation. However, many younger people are stricken by the ailment because of the nature of their work, particularly those in occupations requiring repetitive movements that put stress on joints.
So, back to our office worker, hairstylist and jackhammer operator. What exactly is it that makes their jobs – and other occupations – so bad for their joints, and more importantly if you are at risk, what measures can you take to help ward off the onset of osteoarthritis? We looked at a total of ten jobs that are bad for your joints…