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Workplace Challenges of Osteoarthritis Rising With Aging Baby Boomers, Obesity—

Osteoarthritis, the progressively more painful form of arthritis that afflicts the knee, hip, back, hand, and joints of millions of workers, will become much more common over the next decade, posing major challenges for employees and their employers.

That was the unanimous opinion of medical, disability, aging and work, and human resources experts interviewed in August by BNA.

In 2010, some 27 million Americans had the so-far incurable degenerative condition, roughly half under age 65, according to the National Institutes of Health. NIH projects that in 2030, osteoarthritis will affect 60 million Americans.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, beyond a very small number of children, teens, and young adults with the condition, it has historically begun to affect people when they reach 45 to 55 years of age.

Osteoarthritis is certain to be a bigger workplace challenge in the next decade for two reasons: the entire baby boom generation reaching their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and the enormous increase in obesity over the last 35 years, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center on Work and Aging at Boston College, told BNA.

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