When Work and Pain Coincide
Work is a necessary part of our lives. When chronic pain and work coincide, there are consequences. A study published by the Harris Allen Group found that 29% of employees work with ongoing problems with pain. Those with the highest pain intensity reported the lowest productivity.
Continuing to work can help you feel a sense of purpose and is usually the best option for long-term financial health.
Ways to Maintain Productivity
What are some practical things that people with chronic pain can do to maintain productivity?
Assess the physical challenges:
Write down the physical requirements of your job:
standing, driving, bending, lifting? write down which tasks are difficult to perform--perhaps a task requires intense concentration that is hard when the pain is more severe. Some things may be best accomplished on days when the pain is not as intense, or after a good night's rest, or when you haven't overdone on the previous day.
Assess the emotional 'taxing' factor:
Some jobs and work places present challenging relationships. This can use up a lot of emotional resources. Write down the conditions that may make this part of the job more 'taxing', more difficult when performing it with pain, considering such factors as fatigue, medication effects and disrupted sleep.
Take each problem area and brainstorm alternatives. Can tasks be scheduled in a flexible manner?
Try these approaches to physical challenges:
- search the web for aids to lifting and carrying objects
- be sure your workstation is suitable for your physical limitations
- ask about flexible hours or more frequent breaks
- perform stretching exercises every 30 to 60 minutes,
- go to bed early and get a good night's sleep
- reduce extra movements throughout the day
Try these approaches to emotional and relationship challenges: delegate responsibilities when possible identify and use leaders on a team if you are a supervisor learn to perform relaxation exercises and practice during breaks request a self-paced schedule if possible find a way to exercise to relieve workplace stress and keep a positive attitude
CommunicateIt can be hard to decide whether to tell anyone that you have a chronic pain condition. Your employer may be able to help with accommodations. But the employer can't help if they don't know. Both your employer and co-workers will be more likely to understand if you have thought through what you might need, and how you plan to solve problems you experience. They will be more receptive if they see your positive attitude and determination in dealing with difficult situations.
A Change of Career
Sometimes it may be necessary to find a job with different demands. But first think through possible options for your present job and you may find that, with some adjustments, work can be as satisfying and enjoyable as it was before.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309