Arthritis on the Job: Tips for Employees

image of woman holding her wrist

This blog was provided by MI Blues Perspectives.

Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the country.

Symptoms of arthritis may come in waves, resulting in periods of little or no symptoms and periods of severity. The most common symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness and swelling. Arthritis tends to worsen over time and may result in the development of other diseases and impairments. The term arthritis refers to more than 100 types of joint diseases. While it is most common among women and older adults, people of any age, race and sex can develop it.

There is no cure for arthritis, nor is there any single cause. Some risk factors include genetics, age, sex, previous injuries and weight. While there is no guaranteed prevention, you should keep your joints active and manage bodyweight. In the workplace, this can be difficult if you sit at your desk for extended periods of time. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind during the workday:

  • Get your steps in. Exercise is important for people with arthritis and even moderate amounts have benefits. Studies have shown that walking also boosts productivity. Rather than sitting all day, try getting up and walking every hour and every chance you get. You can also start a trend of “walking meetings” with your co-workers where you walk together to discuss the meeting’s topic, rather than sitting in a room. You can also walk at lunch and park farther than usual to get a few more steps in each day. Walking keeps you moving and can help manage weight.
  • Work out at your desk. Schedule breaks in your day to do some desk exercises. These simple stretches help your joints by maintaining a range of motion.
  • Take the stairs when you can. Simple adjustments, such as opting for the stairs, can keep your body moving instead of sedentary. Choose to take the stairs to get your heart rate up and burn some extra calories.
  • Stress can amplify arthritis symptoms. Practicing mindfulness and engaging in well-being offerings could be of benefit. This can be done through meditation, stretches or simple breaks for relaxation throughout the day.

Offices can also help by serving foods that ease arthritis symptoms. Foods that are known to strengthen bones and ease inflammation have been shown to also help with arthritis. Some foods you may want to consider include: fish, soy, heart healthy oils, cherries, dairy and green tea, among others. Having these foods readily accessible at the office cafeteria will help those with arthritis make healthier choices.

This blog was provided by MI Blues Perspectives. As a Wellness Works partner, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shares content developed by subject-matter experts to provide well-rounded information to our readers.