September is Arthritis Awareness Month in Canada and this year, The Arthritis Society is drawing attention to the staggering impact of the disease in the workplace. Of the more than four million Canadians (one in six) with arthritis, approximately 60 per cent are of working age.
Arthritis costs the Canadian economy $6.4 billion annually in health-care expenses and lost work days, with long-term disability accounting for about two-thirds of this total. People with arthritis are affected at work regardless of their job. They have additional daily struggles that their co-workers don’t face. The pain and stiffness of arthritis can interfere with the ability to perform work related tasks. Fatigue and a lack of energy when working can be particularly problematic among people with all different types of arthritis.
The Arthritis Society, BC & Yukon Division, offers a number of helpful tips for managing arthritis at work in its Arthritis in the Workplace booklet. Tips include:
When at work, pace yourself by taking breaks and perform the most demanding duties at a time you feel most energetic. Maintain a good posture and wear comfortable footwear to reduce stress on your joints.
Use ergonomic aids such as split keyboards, electric staplers, electric hole- punchers, telephone headsets that are designed to protect the joints from excess wear and tear.
Alternate duties to prevent strain on certain muscle groups and joints, and switch between sitting, standing and walking. Apply ice during your lunch break or after Work to reduce pain and decrease Swelling.
Get adequate sleep and maintain a regular routine of physical activity. Regular exercise can strengthen the muscles that support joints affected by arthritis and can help you maintain a full range of motion. Do shoulder stretches, neck turns and other simple exercises at your work station.
To order your copy of the Arthritis in the Workplace booklet or to learn more about upcoming workshops in your community, please call the Arthritis Information Line at 1-800-321-1433 or visit www.arthritis.ca