There is an adage that carpenters quote and goes something like, "You have to measure twice and cut just once." It's a skilled trade that few can master.
Carpenters do perform physically demanding work. With the use of chisels, saws, hammers, sanders, and drills, they always use their hands in cutting and shaping wood, fiberglass, plastic, and other materials.
With that being said, being a carpenter is a physical job. Sometimes, depending on the task, it may require forceful use of the back and upper and lower limbs and get on and off knees all day.
Such work would entail the handling of power tools or forceful repetitive gripping, reaching, twisting, or moving actions.
With the awkward posture of the arms, wrists, knees, and shoulders they do at work, they often develop arthritis.
It is indeed true that carpenters can get different ailments and one of the common is arthritis.
It's a very painful and debilitating condition to live with arthritis. Though the severity of arthritis may vary widely, still, people are not able to work due to the limited movement and pain that arthritis may cause.
Kinds of Arthritis You Can Develop
There are different kinds of arthritis you can develop as you age – gout, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. But when working as a carpenter, you can suffer from osteoarthritis.
It is the common condition carpenters develop overtime from doing labor-intensive work. It affects the knees. Since the knees receive the pressure at work, the cartilage tends to wear early.
If you are a carpenter at 50 or older, you might notice manifestations of osteoarthritis. The signs are knee pain and swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving with the knees.
As we said, those at 50 years old are more prone to developing osteoarthritis while other factors such as weight and family history can contribute to the development of this condition.
If you have had injury of the knees caused by a fall from a height which common to carpenters, then you could have osteoarthritis even you are still in middle age.
While osteoarthritis is caused by the wear-and-tear of the joint resulted from labor-intensive work, rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder. It happens when the synovium of joints is mistakenly attacked by our body’s own immune system.
Although this type of arthritis doesn’t influence by work-related condition, anyone can develop this. Those middle-aged individuals are at risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis. Other risk factors in developing this are when you’re obese or overweight and when you’re smoking.
If you have tender and swollen joints or stiffness; together with frequent fever, loss of appetite, or experiencing fatigue – are the early signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
What Disability Compensations Carpenter Can Receive if He Suffers from Arthritis?
If the severity of your arthritis is preventing you from being able to work and earn a living, you may wonder if you qualify for SSDI or Social Security Disability Income benefits for ease of financial burden. If you meet the criteria in the Blue Book Listing, then, yes, you can qualify.
The Blue Book Listing is used as a guide by the Social Security Administration to either approve or deny applicants for Social Security Disability benefits. While arthritis is among the list of disabilities in the Blue Book Listings, a set of criteria must be met before someone can qualify for the benefits. Under section 14 of the Blue Book Listing, medical requirements for arthritis can be found. For more information about SSDI, see this.
If, however, your arthritis doesn't qualify for the Blue Book Listing benefit, you may still be eligible for disability benefits.
An RFC or Residual Functional Capacity assessment must be requested, which will then be used to prove that you're unable to work due to arthritis.
Please do be reminded you also can’t be qualified for such compensation if you have such an ailment. You may discuss with a compensation attorney to discuss your options and seek action.
How to Prevent Arthritis at Work?
The day-to-day demands of carpentry work may pose a lot of challenges. Thankfully, there are few simple principles than can help carpenters go through the day without having the burden of pain due to arthritis.
Taking Breaks From Repetitive Motions
Whether you're working on a construction site or at home, there's always a chance that the job may require repetitive motions. Repetitive stress injuries may occur with repetitive motions and can worsen the pain. Take frequent breaks whenever possible if you are going to make repetitive motions.
Use Good Arthritis Body Mechanics
If you do a lot of sitting or standing in one position or moving at work, it is less likely your joints are going to act up when keeping them at their neutral position. Like for example, the knee. Its neutral position would be slightly bent, like when you're sitting on a chair with your leg slightly extended forward. For the wrists, its neutral position is placing your forearm and hand in a straight line. The nerves passing through the wrists won't be compressed. It is advisable to pay attention to the position of your body to eliminate unnecessary strain by finding a comfortable position.
Don't Stay On One Position
Staying in one position for some time will put much strain and stress on your joints. Frequently change your positions while working as much as possible. You can alternate your tasks so you can take periodic breaks that can change your body position. Stretching also helps a lot.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
If you're going to lift heavy materials, always be sure to bend the knees as this will lessen the strain on your back. Try to hold objects closer to your body to minimize the load on your wrists and arms. If possible, always ask for assistance to your co-workers.
Utilize Wheels, Carts, Automated Tools
Using those can greatly help in reducing strain and stress on your joints.
Preventions You Can Do Against Arthritis
Arthritis isn't always prevented. There are causes that are out of our control, such as the family history of the disease, increasing age, and genetics. However, there are healthy ways we can practice in reducing the risks of developing joint pain as we age.
See Your Doctor
Arthritis is normally progressive. At the early onset of the disease, see your doctor right away for treatment. The longer you wait for treatment, the more damage it can cause to your joints. Lifestyle interventions and treatments can be suggested by your doctors, which can slow the progression of arthritis and preserve your mobility.
Control Your Weight
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is essential in one's wellbeing and good health. It can lower the chances of developing chronic diseases.
Regular exercise can also alleviate or reduce the pain and stiffness of the joints, which can also build strong muscles, increase endurance and flexibility, and protects the joints from degradation.
Try To Avoid Injury
When working, always use proper safety equipment to avoid injuries.
There are certain medications that can help ease the inflammation and pain. However, in extreme cases, doctors would suggest surgery to alleviate or correct the underlying problems, especially if it's causing limitations in daily life.
Smoking doesn’t only cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, it has been proven to cause the early onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids are rich in certain fish. It is a healthy polyunsaturated fat that can reduce inflammation in the body. Sardines, mackerel, salmon, and trout are some of the recommended fish, especially if caught in the wild.
Everyone is at risk, if you’re seeing now the effects of working as a carpenter, it is important to make early intervention so that it would not develop into a severe condition.
To Make a Conclusion
If you have worked as a carpenter your entire life, you may develop arthritis. Your knees and joints suffer the stress and therefore can be damaged over time.
If you’ve been in this occupation for quite a while now, you may notice the early onset of this debilitating condition especially the osteoarthritis.
Every job has its risks so please don’t make arthritis discourages you from working as a carpenter. Do what you love to do!