10 Tips for Managing Psoriatic Arthritis at Work
- Why managing your psoriatic arthritis at work is critical.The inflammatory type of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis can cause pain and swelling in your joints, and it can reduce your ability to move about freely and easily. Living with psoriatic arthritis can also make you feel completely exhausted. If you work out of the home, it’s critical to your health and well-being to find some effective strategies to manage your psoriatic arthritis at work.
- 1. See a rheumatologist.Before you do anything, talk to a rheumatologist. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic, progressive condition, and left untreated, it can cause permanent joint damage. Make sure you’re seeing an expert for the best possible treatment for your psoriatic arthritis first. You can also ask for recommendations for ways to manage your psoriatic arthritis at work.
- 2. Talk to your manager.Chances are, if you have more than just a mild form of psoriatic arthritis, you wll need some accommodations at work. The best way to approach this situation is by scheduling a chat with your manager. Do a little homework about possible accommodations before you go. Then, when you meet with your manager or supervisor, you can explain your condition and what strategies you think will help you perform to the best of your abilities. (You may also need to meet with the human resources department.)
- 3. Schedule time for exercise.If you’re tired and sore and it’s been a long day at the office, you may be tempted to forego exercise. Don’t fall into that trap! Exercise is an important part of psoriatric arthritis treatment. Exercise can reduce joint pain and fatigue, while building up your strength and flexibility. Find a time each day that works for you to incorporate some type of exercise, whether it’s before work, after work or during your lunch break. Aim to include aerobic, strength-building and range-of-motion exercises over the course of a week. Your doctor can provide some guidance on specific exercises to try.
- 4. Use assistive devices at your desk.Most desks and work stations contain a scattering of office tools like pencils, pens, staplers and scissors. If you’re wincing or rubbing your hands at the thought of having to saw through some paper with regular scissors, take heart. You can buy versions that are specially adapted for people who suffer from joint pain, such as rubbery grips that make it easier to hold a pen, or spring-loaded automatic scissors that are easier to open and close.
- 5. Reposition your computer.Are you craning your neck to gaze up at a computer monitor? Even people without psoriatic arthritis can develop aches and pains from a poorly positioned computer monitor. Position your monitor so that the top lines up with your eyes, or even slightly below your line of vision. You’ll probably also need to move your keyboard to a more comfortable position, and you might consider using a track pad instead of a mouse.
- 6. Adjust your work station.You’ve made sure your computer monitor and keyboard are positioned correctly, and you’ve swapped out your writing implements for wide-barrelled versions that are easier to grip. Next up is the rest of your work station. If you sit at a desk, make sure your chair is positioned correctly so that you can sit as comfortably as possible with both feet on the ground. Make sure your lower back is supported, and adjust any armrests to comfortably support your arms and wrists.
- 7. Take regular breaks.No matter how well your work station is set up, you’re still probably going to experience some soreness or pain. Try to take short regular breaks to move around. Stand up and walk around. You could even do a few gentle range-of-motion exercises next to your desk to warm up your joints.
- 8. Ask for help.This might be the hardest change of all for some people to make. It’s okay to ask a coworker for help. If you can’t lift a box or other heavy item, don’t strain yourself to do so. Ask for assistance.
- 9. Watch out for stress triggers.Stress can definitely aggravate symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Does a daily calendar packed full of meetings make you feel anxious? An early-morning meeting with your boss or a looming deadline for a major project? Or maybe just an overly chatty coworkers who interrupts your train of thought when you’re trying to get some work done? Identify the factors that ramp up your stress level so you can prepare to cope with them. Reducing stress can help reduce inflammation, which can help your psoriatic arthritis.
- 10. Apply for disability.At some point, you may need to take some time off from work. For many people, this may be the last resort. But applying for disability might be an option if even special accommodations don’t make your situation comfortable enough for you. The Social Security Administration does provide disability benefits for people who qualify, so you may want to check with your local Social Security office for more people. Advocacy organizations like the National Psoriasis Foundation may be able to provide guidance, too.
Managing Psoriatic Arthritis at Work | Living With Psoriatic Arthritis