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Help Your Staff Manage Arthritis Pain: Boost Productivity, Morale & Retention

Arthritis is a painful, limiting and progressively disabling condition that is estimated to affect almost 700,000 New Zealanders. With many of those affected still being in the workforce, this means that as an employer, the effects of arthritis can lead to absenteeism, presenteeism, productivity and profit loss, impaired team culture – and much more.

With many private health insurance plans excluding arthritis due to their ‘pre-existing’ nature, could offering your staff employer aid payments into a digital health wallet be what they need to better manage their arthritis, raise morale and improve retention rates, while even attracting new staff? 

Arthritis Can Severely Impact Your Employee Wellbeing

When it comes to arthritis, there are three common forms:

  • Osteoarthritis: this is the wear and tear arthritis that develops slowly over time as the cartilage that covers your bone ends wears down. The cause is largely from natural use over many years, though injuries, alignment issues within the joint and other diseases may result in it developing at a faster rate.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: this is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints. It occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the joints and causes damage, inflammation and pain. If the effects of rheumatoid arthritis remain uncontrolled, it can cause permanent changes in the appearance of the joints, especially at the feet and hands. 
  • Gout: this is an inflammatory arthritis that results from a high concentration of uric acid in the blood. Gout feels like sharp, painful crystals in the joints. Often, this is in the big toe and occurs in flares.

Despite having very different disease processes, one thing that all of these common types of arthritis have in common is that they very often (and in the case of gout, primarily) affect the feet. With movement being ‘felt’ all the time – whether that’s going into a client meeting or having a job that keeps you on your feet all day, this means that any care that goes towards relieving arthritic pain and improving comfort can be highly beneficial.

Living with arthritic pain also has an amplified negative effect on the body, as due to the fear of the joint pain worsening, many people hesitate when it comes to engaging in exercise or even gentle physical activity, a factor that can have damaging consequences for a person’s overall health and well-being. 

What Treatment Is There For Arthritic Pain?

There are several health providers that are involved with managing arthritis, and this can vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. This may include:

  • Your GP or primary care physician
  • A rheumatologist
  • Orthopaedic specialists
  • A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist
  • Hand therapist
  • A dietitian
  • Occupational therapist
  • Psychologist
  • Podiatrist

Managing Arthritic Pain

There’s a common misconception that there isn’t that much more that can be done to help with arthritic joint pain aside from taking pain-relieving medications to ease the discomfort. The reality is that while it’s true that nothing can reverse the joint damage that has already been caused by arthritis, there is a lot that can be done to alleviate your pain and support your mobility and function that does not involve medications. 

The first step is to book your appointment with your GP to discuss the best way forwards and who should be on your team given your symptoms. Or, if you already have significant impairments such as pain during walking, you can book in directly with professionals like podiatry.

Supporting Your Team With Employer Aid

When it comes to helping reduce the symptoms of arthritis and improve health in the workplace, one simple and proactive approach that business owners and companies are taking is to offer employer aid payments with HealthNow. This is an alternative to contributing to health insurance payments, instead putting funds into a dedicated health wallet for employees who can use the funds how they need to, when they need to – without the restrictions, limitations and stand-down periods imposed by private health insurance providers. 

This way, employees are in control of the help they need – whether that’s booking an appointment with a GP to discuss their arthritis management options, booking an appointment with a dietitian for diet-related arthritic management advice, paying for medication from their pharmacy, booking an appointment with a podiatrist or physio to start improving their comfort or mobility – or supporting their arthritic care in a different health-related way.

How Does Employer Aid Work?

Employer Aid allows you as an employer to put money directly into your employee’s dedicated health wallets which can be used for a range of medical and health needs for your employee and their family. You choose how much to give and at what frequency. Unlike private health insurance, nothing is ‘lost’ if it’s not used – your employees keep the funds in their account until they use them, and the funds can be returned to you if your employee resigns. By giving your team control and flexibility over how to best care for their arthritis, and giving them the opportunity to care for their arthritis in the first place, you’re setting your team up for success while showing that you genuinely care – a big drawcard when it comes to hiring new staff and retaining them.

To get your workplace on board with HealthNow’s Employer Aid programme, contact our friendly team here.


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