Dr. Arthritis Tips: Getting Through the Day at Work When You Have Arthritis
Getting through the day at work, when you’re healthy and don’t have to deal with fatigue and pain, can be challenging unto itself. Imagine then what it’s like for people who suffer from arthritis.
As arthritis sufferers, we go through our daily lives with chronic pain. That pain usually keeps us up at night, which means we feel exhausted the next day. Because arthritis is usually an invisible disability, it’s not uncommon for us to feel isolated and alone. This is further amplified in the workplace, where the pressures of work, general feeling of discontent, and increasing demand to perform and deliver, adds to our day-to-day, physical, emotional, and mental challenges.
In a lot cases, it’s not an option for us to give up our jobs—nor would we want to either. We value our independence and our ability to find fulfilment in our jobs and careers. So while it is admittedly more difficult to get through the day when you have chronic joint pain, we find a way to make it possible.
Here below are some of our tried and tested tips—
1. Take frequent breaks
Both desk and hard labor jobs typically requires a lot of repetitive motions. Whether it’s typing all day or lifting and bending, these repetitive movements can cause additional stress on already affected joints and make your arthritis pain worse. Manage this by taking small, frequent breaks. Even something as simple as pausing to stretch before getting back to the task at hand can help.
2. Organize your day
We usually feel our symptoms flare up or temper off at specific times during the day. For example, if it’s common for your joints to feel exceptionally stiff and painful in the morning, try to talk to your direct supervisor and see if you can start your day later. Explore flexible time schedules or remote working options as well as they can be ideal solutions to days when you’re too tired to commute to and from the office.
3. Use aids and tools
There is no shame in using aids and tools intended to prevent pain and discomfort as we go about our days. For example, compression sleeves are great for increasing blood flow and providing support to affected joints—especially if you’re on your feet the whole day or sat down for long periods of time. Gloves are especially useful when you’re typing the whole day. You can also try exploring arthritis-friendly office suppliers—perhaps an ergonomic chair or keyboard, and a foot and elbow rest.
4. Open up
Talk to your HR department about challenges and potential problems what you’re going through. More often than not, they will be more than listen and see how they can best accommodate your needs.
It’s important to remember that the limitations your disease imposes on you isn’t a sign of weakness. While maintaining a job when you have arthritis can be challenging—even difficult, on certain days—it’s not impossible. If you have more to share, please feel free to add to this list—this community would greatly appreciate it.