Prolonged sick leave due to osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in the world. It can affect all of the joints in the body, but it is most common in the hands, knees and hips. The disease is the result of the cartilage in the joint starting to break down. In severe cases, the cartilage can completely disappear. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, primarily when the joints are strained, and stiffness. This makes it difficult to move and to continue living life as normal. In that case, it may be necessary to take Prolonged Sick Leave from work for short periods of time.

Osteoarthritis in the knee

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis in the knee, this can involve pain in the joint during exertion. Another symptom of osteoarthritis is stiffness in the affected joint. Some people do not just feel pain during strain and motion, but also at rest. If you perform physical work, the symptoms may involve difficulty performing your daily work activities, and it may be necessary to take sick leave for a short period of time due to the pain arising from osteoarthritis.

Prolonged Sick Leave due to osteoarthritis

It is good to know that osteoarthritis can be both treated and prevented. A good idea is to review the different risk factors in order to prevent osteoarthritis before the disease takes hold. But even if the symptoms of osteoarthritis have already appeared, it is still possible to receive treatment before needing to take sick leave.

The first step towards healthy joints is to speak with a physiotherapist. This is where the diagnosis is made and a treatment plan can be created with customized exercises. If it is painful to perform these exercises, you can also purchase a knee support. This is specially designed to provide support and remove strain. This type of knee protection is called soft orthosis.

There is no special medication for osteoarthritis, but for those periods when the pain is at its worse, it may be necessary to take a pain-relieving medication to perform training and exercises. These should never be seen as a permanent solution, rather they should only be used for a short period of time.

If neither training nor pain-relieving medications help, it may be necessary to take sick leave for a short period due to osteoarthritis. This is determined in consultation with a physician at a local healthcare center. Going on sick leave is not a right, rather a form of retraining insurance that the state pays for. Therefore, this should not be seen as a permanent solution. Going on sick leave isn’t a cure either. In the long-term, it is important to discuss with your employer whether there are options to modify your work tasks or tools that can be gentle on the joint affected by osteoarthritis. Another option is to reduce your work hours or to switch jobs.

Surgery and sick leave due to osteoarthritis

One in three patients affected by osteoarthritis develop so much pain that at some point surgery is needed. Surgery can involve replacing the joint with a prosthetic joint, which is the case for osteoarthritis in the knees and hips. After prosthetic surgery, a patient is generally on sick leave up to three months depending on how strenuous their work is. During this time, they undergo rehabilitation with a physiotherapist. People who have actively trained prior to surgery have an advantage when it comes to postoperative training.

If osteoarthritis is suspected

Many people mistake their osteoarthritis for natural aging and are not diagnosed in time. An exam usually begins with booking an appointment with a physician or physiotherapist who reviews your medical history. If osteoarthritis appears to be behind your problems, getting a referral to a physiotherapist for training or to an orthopedist if the pain is so pronounced that surgery may be relevant.

Coming back to work with osteoarthritis

In those cases where a person is on sick leave for osteoarthritis, it is important to avoid remaining on sick leave for a long period. Therefore, it is important that you have a good discussion with your physician and physiotherapist about the best way to return to working life. It is important that you have the ability to express your opinion in terms of what is best for you.

Continue reading about osteoarthritis in the workplace.