Arthritis and the Workplace

The recent spike in arthritis has already had devastating effects on personal well-being, but new statistics are emerging on how these effects bleed in to the workplace. A recent poll revealed that tens of thousands of people – up to half a million, in fact – have been forced into early retirement due to arthritis and its complications, and at the very least had to force cuts in the number of hours they work.

With an ageing population and growing obesity problems only putting pressure on the already-delicate sore spots, these new facts aren’t particularly surprising. But they remain worrisome, partly because of the obvious health strains and also because of the economic burden placed on the government. Back in 2011, it was reported that arthritis cost the Canadian government $33 billion a year, both in direct care and with more indirect factors such as lost productivity in the workplace — and by extension, the government.

In the aforementioned more recent poll, two-thirds of osteoarthritis sufferers over the age of 55 have quit their jobs outright as a result of their affliction, with the total number of Canadian sufferers in 2012 marked at over 4,376,000. (This is actually down more than 400,000 from the 2011 results, though the 2013 results are, of course, too soon to display.)

Given that osteoarthritis mainly affects the knees – to say nothing of the multi-joint effects of rheumatoid arthritis, which can occasionally spread to vital organs – these facts are impossible to write off as mere sob stories. And yet, it’s worth being emphatic that despite these troublesome statistics and their associated burdens, both direct and indirect, these results do not preclude arthritis patients from continuing to strive toward their work or their hobbies. In this sense, the need for proper therapy and treatment is now more imperative than ever.