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Navigating Arthritis at Work: Tips for a Pain-Free Day

Navigating Arthritis at Work: Tips for a Pain-Free Day

When you have arthritis, you’re no stranger to joint pain. You may have flare-ups of arthritis in your hands, wrists, shoulders, knees or other joints that distract you from what you need to get done. While arthritis can be distracting in any setting, it’s particularly disruptive at work. Managing your symptoms at home is often easier than managing them in the workplace because you’re in a more familiar and comfortable setting. However, when you have arthritis, there are still many things you can do to make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible while at work.

At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we believe in empowering our patients with the information and resources they need to optimize their quality of life. Living with arthritis, and effectively managing arthritis symptoms at work, is no exception. Read on to learn more about how to manage joint pain in the workplace.

  1. Evaluate the Ergonomics of Your Work Space: Arthritic joint pain is often influenced by body positioning. Whether you're at a desk or on your feet, paying attention to ergonomics is key. Ensure your workspace promotes a healthy musculoskeletal system by following tips from the CDC, such as using an office chair with armrests, keeping feet flat on the floor, maintaining a 90-degree angle at hips and knees, and positioning your computer at eye level. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized ergonomic advice based on your arthritis pain location.

  2. Reduce Repetitive Motions: If your job involves repetitive motions, brainstorm workarounds to limit discomfort. Consider tools like dictation software for typing-intensive tasks or braces for wrist stabilization. Alternating sides and taking breaks to rest joints are essential. If your job requires lifting, use available devices like carts to lighten the load. Prioritize your joint health by embracing tools that reduce strain.

  3. Keep Emergency Supplies on Hand: Prepare for unexpected arthritis symptoms by keeping an emergency kit at your workspace. Include over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen, topical pain relief gel, a heating pad or cool gel pack, and soothing aromatherapy oils. Consult your medical provider for additional quick-fix treatments to customize your arthritis emergency kit.

  4. Take a Stretch Break During the Work Day: Physical activity is crucial for managing arthritis. Schedule short breaks during the workday to stretch, move around, and perform light exercises. According to the CDC, staying physically active is one of the best ways to manage arthritis. Prioritize your joint health by incorporating simple exercises into your daily routine.

  5. Get Some Social Support at Work: Arthritis can be isolating, but having a supportive ally at work can make a significant difference. Consider disclosing your arthritis diagnosis to coworkers or your boss to create a network of support. Research suggests that open communication can lead to assistance with tasks, reduced disruptions, and accommodations that alleviate pain. Don't hesitate to lean on your colleagues for emotional support.

  6. Munch on Anti-Inflammatory Snacks at Work: Choosing the right snacks can positively impact arthritis symptoms. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods like red meats, refined sugar, and processed/fried foods. Instead, opt for anti-inflammatory snacks such as black olives, hummus and carrots, apple and peanut butter, mixed nuts, berries with low-fat yogurt, or veggies with lean proteins like chicken or salmon.

  7. Follow Up Regularly With a Healthcare Provider: Staying on top of routine medical care is essential for effective arthritis management. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult your healthcare provider to reassess your treatment plan. Regular check-ins will ensure that you're optimizing your arthritis management regimen and addressing any new challenges that may arise.

Managing arthritis at work is a proactive journey that involves creating a supportive environment, incorporating healthy habits, and seeking assistance when needed. By implementing these practical tips, you can enhance your comfort, productivity, and overall well-being in the workplace. If you're still facing challenges, reach out to the professionals at Lompoc Valley Medical Center for personalized guidance and support. Don't let arthritis hinder your work life—take control and prioritize your joint health today.