04 July 2011

Work and arthritis

Depending how serious your arthritis is, and depending on the nature of your work, you may need to modify your working day accordingly.


Depending how serious your arthritis is, and depending on the nature of your work, you may need to modify your working day accordingly.

While almost everyone suffers from joint pain at some stage of their lives, most can cope with it by making some basic adjustments. Unless your arthritis is serious, you ought to be able to get by with minimal changes to your work and workplace.

But there are some questions you should ask:

  • Does stress at work cause you arthritis to flare up?
  • Do you find you need to allow yourself extra time to do your work?
  • Are there some aspects of your job you can’t do any longer?
  • Do you find you don't have the stamina to work like you used to?


Answering yes to one or more of these questions may mean that you would benefit from some advice about how you do your job.

You should ask yourself whether you’d benefit from making some relatively minor adjustments to your working environment. This could involve putting your feet on a small box when sitting, moving your telephone closer to you or revising the way you move your computer’s mouse.

But you might also need your employer’s input, e.g. if you drive a company vehicle and need a car with power steering or automatic transmission rather than manual steering and transmission.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, speak to your employer about starting work a little later in the day and staying on into the evening. Working flexi-time has proved effective for many sufferers who take a while to get going in the mornings.

You might need to see an occupational therapist for advice. They are specially trained in occupation-related issues and are able to offer superb advice. Ask your GP to refer you.

Many people worry that they’ll lose their jobs or be “boarded.” Remember that legislation protects people whose health prevents them from being able to work.

Before you quit your job, think objectively about your decision. It may simply be that you’re feeling despondent about arthritis and life in general.

Some arthritis treatments take some time to become effective and you may be able to cope with your job far better a few months from now. Some people also find that they need a job to provide companionship, a sense of belonging, a routine and – of course – an income.

Some people hate being at home all day, while others enjoy it very much. Weigh up your preferences and think of the long-term consequences before making a decision. Remember: it is easier to work with a disability than to find work once you have “boarded” for medical reasons.


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