Chronic pain can be immensely
distracting to the point where it’s the only thing you can think about despite
your best efforts to do otherwise. Understandably then, it may stop you from
continuing to work. Fortunately, you can do several things to minimize that
possibility — here are six suggestions.
Be Honest About Your Limitations
An excellent starting point in your
workplace pain management efforts is to talk to your supervisor about how your
pain may affect you. A 2018 study found when pain interfered with the workday,
the likelihood went up of people feeling emotionally exhausted at the end
of their workdays.
That may mean it’s necessary to discuss
the possibility of switching to tasks that are less stressful or otherwise
demanding. Or, the talk with your boss might involve bringing up how your pain
levels differ by the day, both due to things within and outside of your
The sooner you speak frankly about
how pain affects your life and your time at work, the easier it will be to set
expectations and let everyone know how they can support you, if needed.
Experiment with Different Positions
If you’ve lived with the pain for a
while, you’re probably the person who best knows precisely how it affects you
and some of the most appropriate ways to remedy it. Your body’s position may
partially determine the level of pain you experience or how long it takes for
the pain to start. And, that may mean you need to assume some positions your
colleagues find strange.
For example, if you have a
disability that causes excessive muscle tightness in your legs after sitting
for too long, you might figure out a way to use a second chair, a stack of
books or a piece of foam to keep your legs in a gently stretched position while
you work at an office job. Or, getting relief from wrist pain might mean
changing the height of your chair to keep your wrists in a more suitable
Take all the time you need to figure
out the positions that keep the pain at bay for the longest period. Indeed, you
may find that all positions cause some amount of pain. The key is to note which
ones trigger discomfort the least.
Ask About the Possibility of Having a Flexible Schedule
Anyone who has ever had a bad
night’s sleep knows how much that disrupted slumber tends to affect them the
next day. Research from the National Sleep Foundation showed that only 46 percent of people who
sleep poorly felt effective at getting things done.
Sleeping more soundly might seem
like an unachievable goal for some chronic pain sufferers, but one related
thing you could do is ask your boss for schedule flexibility. That’s because
some people who can’t sleep notice that the problem gets even worse when they
keep turning to look at the clock and realizing they have to get up for work
much too soon.
If you have a flexible schedule, you
might not feel so upset about sleeping difficulties, knowing you can tackle
your work at a time that’s most suitable for you based on the sleep you got.
Plus, a non-rigid schedule might allow you to manage your pain by
going to appointments such as to see your massage therapist or a chiropractor
in the middle of a workday.
Keep a Pain Diary or Use a Tracking App
Many people document the precise ways
pain affects their lives by keeping a diary or using an app to keep tabs on the
relevant changes. When you take that approach, doctors get updated information
about what’s working well and what isn’t. To reduce the possibility of
opioid addictions, many physicians take varied approaches to
Concerning your work, the pain data
may show that certain activities are more likely to cause pain than others. If
it’s not feasible to stop doing those things due to the nature of your job,
consider doing those tasks in short bursts to make their effects less
You probably have good days and bad
days with your pain levels. Pacing is a technique that allows you to do the
activities you want by engaging in small amounts of them even during bad days.
Determine how much of an activity
you can do during a bad pain day. Then, do 80 percent of that amount on
good and bad days. Keep up that routine for a few days. If you feel your pain
is well-controlled, increase the percentage.
During times of comparatively less
pain, people often exceed their limits and find it takes them longer than
expected to recover. You might fall into that pattern at work if you’re trying
to impress your boss or prove to yourself you’re still able to work.
Pacing helps limit your desire to
engage in something that might result in overexertion. It also helps prevent
you from getting so discouraged from the pain of overdoing it that you feel
convinced you’re incapable of doing anything.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Prepare for Work
Rushing could make your pain worse,
especially if you feel extra tense when under
pressure. That’s why planning your preparation time for work is a must. Figure
out how long it usually takes to do things like choose an outfit, take a shower
and pack your lunch. Then, add extra time for cushion.
Also, account for factors such as
traffic congestion, crowded public transit routes and side effects from a
medication you took. All of those things could make it more difficult to arrive
at work when you expect.
When you have enough time to get
ready for work, it’s possible to make small adjustments depending on how you
feel. For example, you might do stretching or use a heat pack before leaving
the house if that’d get you better equipped for the day.
to Your Body
Working with chronic pain isn’t easy,
but it is manageable. Aside from trying the tips here, don’t overlook the
importance of listening to your body and responding appropriately. Doing so
could help you steer clear of adverse consequences that could hinder your