Speed of progression


I haven’t been able to find much online about how quickly OA progresses. I have it in both hands & wrists. I’m trying to find out how quickly it can progress to the point where I will no longer be able to teach. I’m 50 now and would like to continue teaching until retirement at 67 but wonder if I need to start thinking of an earlier retirement point.


  • Fif
    Fif Member Posts: 113

    It's a bit like asking 'how long is a piece of string' . There are so many variables and every individual is different. I've had OA in my knees for years and although I go through bad patches I've managed to carry on without resorting to surgery - yet! It's important for you to keep moving and exercise your hands and wrists as much as possible. You can also expect your employer to make reasonable adjustments to help you cope. I don't know what age range you teach. As a retired secondary schol teacher myself l think I could probably work out ways of changing my practice to compensate. Being a primary teacher would possibly be more challenging. It's always good to have a fall back plan, but I wouldn't be rushing into making big decisions for your future retirement just yet. Good luck.

  • helpline_team

    Hi FClayton,

    Thank you for posting on our Online community.

    As Fif has said unfortunately no one would be able to answer that question for you because as individuals we are all different and arthritis can affect us all differently.

    The most important thing to do is to get as much help as possible to try to manage your condition possibly asking your doctor for a referral to see a hand therapist, hand therapists are Health and Care Professions who have done further training to specialise in treating conditions affecting the hands, arms and shoulders. They can advise on things like exercises, preventive care and aids for daily living. They also often use things like wax baths which is another form of heat therapy to help with pain, it is one of the most effective ways of applying heat to improve mobility by warming the connective tissues. Not to be used if the condition is an inflammatory condition or if you have any open cuts or sores.

    We agree with Fif it is important that work make reasonable adjustments so that you can carry on doing your role, a referral to see an Occupational therapist may be helpful as they can teach you how to do things differently and also advise if a splint would be helpful.

    Other self-help things that can help is heat and ice treatment, such as a hot water bottle or even putting your hands in warm water and whilst in the water do some hand exercises, ice can also help with pain and swelling which can be just a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea towel. Also speak to your doctor about Capsaicin cream, which is made from extracts from chilli plants, and is recommended for osteoarthritis. It can help block pain messages sent to nerves. 

    We wish you all the best for the future.

    Best wishes