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OA and Housework

January 31, 2013

Some housework involves heavy lifting, and can cause osteoarthritis over time.

There is a well known connection between osteoarthritis and heavy physical exercise. While intense exercise does negatively effect joints and often causes knee pain, this does not mean that all exercise increases risk of osteoarthritis.  In fact, new evidence suggests that routine stresses lead to osteoarthritis more often than exercise does.  Many studies do connect exercise to osteoarthritis, but this connection is most visible in professional superstars, and is far less common for recreational athletes.

A recent study at the Women’s Hospital of Boston examined the stresses that housework can put on the knee.  They found that housework often involved squatting, kneeling, and stair climbing, and that these activities increased risk of osteoarthritis.  This same study shows that recreational sports and fitness are more helpful than they are harmful.  Most of the stress applied to the knees comes from carrying body-weight, and so weight loss can be helpful in reducing knee pain and slowing the progression of osteoarthritis.

So be aware of the damage that housework and manual labor can do.  Most knee osteoarthritis develops slowly over time and is made worse by obesity.  If you suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee, do not avoid exercise to avoid knee pain.  In the long run, weight loss will help you more than rest will.

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