Labor Occupations and Lower Extremity Arthritis
There can be many causes to arthritis. When and how it starts is subject to much discussion. However, once present, there is no question that performing the arduous, physical tasks of a labor occupation accelerates the progression of the disease and increases the symptoms. Load bearing activities such as stair climbing, bending, stooping, lifting, kneeling, squatting, twisting and carrying over a prolonged period and an injury to the joint are thought to be the most common factors leading to arthritis. A combination of these two factors will almost certainly result in a case of arthritis.
For instance, doing the labor intensive job of a firefighter, letter carrier, law enforcement officer, mechanic, etc. on a knee that has suffered a torn meniscus will inevitably lead to an arthritic knee. As load bearing joints, the knees and hips are particularly susceptible to arthritis. A generation ago it was thought that arthritis was just a normal part of the aging process. However that school of thought is now long outdated and no longer accepted in the medical community. There has been a significant amount of medical study and research over the past 15 years that conclusively shows that regularly engaging in what are referred to as "high impact loading activities" will contribute to the development, progression and acceleration of existing arthritic disease of the hips and knees. This is of special interest to those in labor occupations as their jobs require engaging in lthese activities constantly throughout their work day. This results in a significant extra strain on the hip and knee joints.
An interesting fact in support of this proposition is that ascending stairs loads on the lower extremity weight-bearing joints of the hips and knees approximately 3 times body weight and descending stairs loads on the lower extremity weight-bearing joints of the hips and knees approximately 6 times body weight. So, if you are a letter carrier with a 35 pound mail satchel going up and down hundreds of stairs a day or if you are a firefighter with 70 pounds of equipment climbing up and down ladders as a regular part of your job, it is highly likely that before the end of your career you will be experiencing the debilitating pain, stiffness and aching of arthritis.