Osteoarthritis isn’t the first condition people expect to see in a ‘health issues at 40’ list. It can occur as cartilage wears down around joints. And no, you don’t have to be an athlete to experience it early in life. Physically demanding jobs, like emergency services, put greater pressure on joints.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and, like most health matters, the best way to prevent it is through good diet and regular exercise.
For people who are predisposed to generalised osteoarthritis, the problems usually start in the lumbar cervical spine, hips, knees, and in joints. You might be surprised to know that two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65… with 2/3 of people being female.
Scientists believe this is linked to female hormones and their effect on the cartilage that allows joints to navigate smoothly. So, genetically, women are more at risk of getting osteoarthritis. If you have persistent knee pain or any of your other load-bearing joints are weak, it could run in your family.
The greater risks of osteoarthritis & emergency workers
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states that osteoarthritis is a chronic, progressive disease. And, the figures are alarming – with 11% of the population experiencing it and a 36% rise in that group needing total knee replacements.
Knee surgery, for emergency service workers, can lead to serious issues, including a loss of confidence and stature. Being unable to work increases the chance of workers self-medicating through alcohol, drugs, and food.
But keeping healthy, strong joints isn’t as simple as, ‘just exercise more’. A research paper, Osteoporosis in Young, Active and Athletic Individuals outlines the risk factors for active people, due to the wear and tear on cartilage.
Adopt low-impact workouts
Emergency workers pull long shifts and are on their feet for hours on end. These careers also require high-impact training like running, which can inflame arthritic joints and aggravate symptoms.
Reconsidering the way in which you work out is the first step to preventing osteoarthritis. Exercise is critical to maintain healthy, strong joints, broaden your range of motion, and to aid weight control. Low-impact exercises, such as swimming, cycling and circuit training, is advisable.
Committing to the right type of exercise is your best remedy against this painful degenerative condition.
Don’t ignore the gut (the second ‘brain’)
We can’t ignore the importance of diet. Experts say the microbiome, the group of bacteria that occupies our guts, play a role in joint inflammation.
Plant-based diets of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains have been shown to reduce pain and boost physical functions. And yes, milk is good for the bones, as well as joint-protecting foods like brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli (that feature the compound, sulforaphane). Garlic, onions, leeks and other foods in the allium family support protection against early osteoarthritis.
If you’re experiencing morning joint stiffness, aching pain, tender joints and a limited range of motion, it could be time to see a doctor. There is support available for you, and your ‘first responder family’.
As there’s no cure for osteoarthritis, embracing a long-term approach to healthy joints will enable you to live a prosperous, pain-free life.
And, we’re here to help in your journey. Emergency Services Health insurance coverage includes access to occupational therapy, physiotherapy and dietary services.
We’ll help get you stay on your feet.
Cover like no other
We understand the demands of front line work more than any other insurer. After all, we've been looking after the health and wellbeing of the police community for more than 85 years. Whether you're already a member or interested in becoming one, call us to find out how to get the most out of our cover and benefits. We're here to help.
Please note: some articles on this website are compiled from material obtained externally. Although we make every effort to ensure information is correct at the time of publication, we accept no responsibility for its accuracy. Health-related articles are intended for general information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your doctor. The views expressed in articles are not necessarily those of Emergency Services Health.