Having Arthritis Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Work
If you have arthritis, it can be difficult to finish your work tasks when it is bothering you. With your hands, the pain can affect you when you are typing. The good news is that there are tips to help you when arthritis is hurting you.
“This can be a problem if you are working long hours doing the same tasks over and over again,” said Alan Hubbard, NTI’s chief operating officer. “When your joints are hurting it can make things difficult.” For more than 25 years, NTI has been helping Americans with disabilities and their caregivers find at-home jobs with free training and job placement services. You can register for free at www.ntiathome.org.
Arthritis is very common amongst people of all ages. In fact, 64 percent of adults with arthritis are younger than 65 years old. Arthritis is more common in every age group in women (26-percent) than men (19-percent), according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“The statistics about being able to work aren’t great,” said Karen Jacobs, clinical professor, and program director of the online post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy at Boston University, in an Arthritis.org article. “But the good news for someone with arthritis is that with motivation and support, you should be able to stay on the job.”
Communicating with your manager and company is a good first step in dealing with your arthritis at work. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses must provide the accommodations that employees need to do their jobs. That means you might modify your work schedule for rest and treatment or a piece of ergonomic workstation equipment. Another option might be consult with an occupational therapist about your workstation.
“The last thing companies should want to do is to lose talented, good employees,” said Hubbard. “Making the changes is much easier than replacing and training new people, and it’s the right thing for companies to do. With the companies we have worked with for more than 25 years, we have seen the benefits of making accommodations for all employees.”
“Each situation is approached on a case-by-case basis,” says Linda Batiste, principal consultant for the Job Accommodation Network. “If you need accommodation, the first step is to let your employer know. If you’re having a problem, but you’re not sure what accommodation will help, your employer is supposed to work with you to try to come up with a solution.”
If you are concerned about how to talk with your employer about your condition and what your needs are, the Arthritis Foundation has resources available for you.
WebMD suggests you do the following things to help you manage your arthritis at work:
No. 1: Taking breaks should be part of your routine to give your body a break from doing the same tasks repeatedly.
No. 2: Good body positioning is another step you need to take. You want to look at what directions your wrists, hands, forearms, neck, and knees are in to make sure you aren’t putting strain on them.
No. 3: Being mobile is another way you can help control your arthritis, as you want to avoid stress on your joints by avoiding staying in one position.
No. 4: If your job involves lifting, make sure you are doing it properly by bending your knees.
No. 5: Look at your schedule to minimize joint pain and strain by looking to see if you must bring something to your workstation that you can make one trip instead of two.
No. 6: If there is something you need to move and you can use something with wheels to do it, WebMD suggests taking advantage to avoid stress on your joints. Carts and suitcases can be a big help with your arthritis.
No. 7: Make sure you are aware of the available assistive devices that can help.
No. 8: Reducing any stress you are feeling can also help your arthritis pain.
(A nonprofit organization, NTI has been helping Americans with disabilities and their caregivers find at-home job for more than 25 years with free job training and placement services. Register at www.ntiathome.org.)