An estimated 16 million Americans live with chronic pain. The overwhelming majority of those living with chronic pain prefer to remain in the workforce both out of economic necessity and for personal fulfillment. The physical and mental challenges and social interactions of work may even help to decrease the perception of pain and promote a greater sense of well-being.
If you live with chronic pain, the following tips can help you balance the demands of your job while managing your condition.
Talk to Your Employer
Your employer is more likely to work with you if they understand the realities of your condition. Be prepared to offer creative solutions for any necessary accommodations, and be willing to show your employer that you are willing to make up for any limitations in other ways.
● If travel causes a flare, offer to conduct video conference meetings instead of in-person meetings.
● If your pain is exacerbated by long hours in the office, ask your employer if you may be able to telecommute a couple of days a week.
● If certain portions of your job description are too physically taxing, work with your employer and co-workers to customize your job to avoid those particular tasks. For example, you offer to handle your co-worker’s paperwork or administrative tasks while they handle a more physical task for you.
● Ask your employer if you can alter your break schedule so that you can get up and move more often. For example, offer to take three 5-minute breaks instead of one 15-minute break.
Modify Your Work Environment
In most cases, employers are willing and legally required to allow employees to make reasonable adjustments to their work environment to accommodate a physical disability. Ergonomically designed office furniture and equipment, such as adjustable desks, chairs, and keyboards, can relieve stress on muscles and joints that can exacerbate pain. It is also important to be prepared to handle flares that may occur at work, such as having pain medications, a heating pad or ice pack, or even a TENS unit available at work.
Make a Healthy Lifestyle a Priority
Eating a balanced, healthy diet can prevent a variety of health conditions that can worsen chronic pain. Regular exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers. Adequate sleep is also essential for the body to recuperate from the activities of the day.
Work With a Pain Specialist
At Comprehensive Pain Management, Dr. Sanford Silverman specializes in developing customized treatment regimens for patients suffering from various types of chronic pain. Some of the treatment services offered by Dr. Silverman include Botox® and platelet rich plasma injections, acupuncture, percutaneous disc decompression, and spinal cord stimulation. If your pain is making it difficult to work, schedule a consultation with Dr. Silverman today.