Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk increases with repetitive physical workload, according to research. Previously, prolonged work-related physical activity has been linked to osteoarthritis in some joints.
For the study, the researchers looked at self-reported information from 3,680 rheumatoid arthritis patients along with 5,935 controls.
Miss Pingling Zeng of the Institute of Environmental Medicine said, “We found that some types of physical workload increased the odds of developing RA more than others. There also appeared to be a significant interaction between genetic makeup, in terms of HLA-DRB1 genes, and the risk of ACPA-positive RA from specific types of physical workload.”
The estimated odds ratio of developing rheumatoid arthritis in participants exposed to the repetitive workload vs. unexposed participants was equal to or greater than 1.5. Certain types of manual labor were at an increased risk – for example, in construction industry, manual work above the shoulder level or below the knee level in construction.
Miss Zeng concluded, “These new insights into the cause of RA may hopefully lead to effective strategies to prevent the development of RA, particularly in those RA patients with a susceptible genotype.”
Rheumatoid arthritis and the ability to perform physical work
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, causing pain, swelling, and even disfiguration. As rheumatoid arthritis progresses, it can limit a person’s ability to perform physical work.
Possible occupational adjustments depend on your age. For example, if you perform physical labor and are close to the retirement, you may be able to just go on disability. If you are younger, your work may have to be modified so that you are still able to maintain your job.
Rheumatoid arthritis not only affects physical labor, but sedentary jobs as well. Although sedentary work doesn’t require you to lift, stand, or bend, rheumatoid arthritis can still impact a person’s ability to stay seated for longer periods of time and to maintain fine motor skills – one of the main targets of rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis and physical capacity
Rheumatoid arthritis medications allow patients to continue working for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, the medication cannot cure the disease, and in many patients the disease continues to progress, resulting in more pain and deformity and preventing them from performing their job.
Even with the use of medications, pain and fatigue can still take place throughout the day, limiting your physical capacity, and so you may your work aptitude varying daily, or even hourly.
It’s important that you work with your doctor and employer to identify work tasks suitable for your condition and maybe even adjust your work schedule, enabling you to perform most of your work during times when you feel your best.
If you are unable to continue working, then you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD). To apply, you must show that you’re unable to maintain substantial, gainful employment due to your condition. Even if you can work for limited time periods, you may still qualify for SSD if you cannot meet financial requirements to cover the costs for everyday living.
Detailed medical documentation along with statements from doctors and employers will help you demonstrate that you are unfit for work. The more medical evidence you can offer, the better.