Although it’s primarily related to aging, studies have also shown that osteoarthritis is linked to repetitive joint injury and strain; certain occupations are at increased risk of developing the painful disease. High on the list of risky jobs include those involving heavy lifting, unhealthy joint strain or stress - think construction or textile workers for example, but you might be surprised to find professions like teachers and musicians also on that list.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where cartilage, which acts as a cushion between bones, is worn away. When that cartilage wears down, the bones begin to rub together causing severe pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
Sometimes the symptoms take the form of short-term pain that lasts less than a year but can recur. Other times, it’s a painful daily battle involving stiff joints in the morning; pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest. People have difficulty exercising, suffer with decreased mobility, fatigue and creaking or popping sounds in joints when you move, called crepitus.
There are a number of factors that may contribute to osteoarthritis, including genetics, gender (women tend to develop it more than men), obesity, tissue and joint trauma, aging and the corresponding loss of collagen in tissues, poor posture/body mechanics, and sports injuries.
Although most studies point to osteoarthritis as a wear and tear issue, some recent studies conclude that it’s less about the wear and tear and more about an individual body’s failure to repair the damage.
If you’re a teacher, you might not be surprised to find yourself at risk for developing osteoarthritis. In fact, you might be experiencing the symptoms of osteoarthritis, whether you’ve identified the cause or not.
Teachers have been identified as an at-risk group primarily because they work on their feet most of the day. Feet are especially at risk as they come under pressure and strain all day long; feet are small in terms of overall body mass, but foot tissues, bones and joints bear not only the weight of the entire body, but also the force of body movements like running, jumping. Weight, pressure and strain make feet a common area for anthric problems. Furthermore, if you’re an elementary teacher, frequently kneeling, child lifting, and desk moving also makes knees and hips points of strain.
But what you may not have considered is how years of writing on the whiteboard - arm above your shoulder at an awkward angle - puts repetitive stress on the joints in your shoulders and hands. Or the discomfort in your fingers from typing and computer work. All of these straining activities contribute to osteoarthritis in the hand and shoulder.
Whatever the cause or causes, we do know osteoarthritis is chronic and progressive; once you have it, it will continue to get worse over time. But there are steps you can take to decrease your chances of developing it, and to give you body a fighting chance if you already have it.
The best way to reduce your risk of developing arthritis is to maintain a lifestyle that protects your joints, including:
If you’re already experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis, here are a few tips for treating the stiffness and discomfort:
Another key to preventing osteoarthritis and to repairing damage to your joints is marine collagen supplementation. Collagen helps rejuvenate, strengthen and support our cartilage and other connective tissues. As we age, our natural collagen production slows down, leaving us less able to fight the forces that break down our cartilage. Taking a quality marine collagen peptide supplement can support your body’s natural collagen production which works to repair joint tissues, keep bones strong and reduce systemic inflammation. Collagen peptides, like DeepMarine’s 100% Canadian-made Collagen, have been recognized by Health Canada as being effective at relieving pain associated with osteoarthritis. A scoop or two per day could help keep you on your feet and at the top of your class.