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Workplace Stress - Solutions for People With Osteoarthritis

Making Adjustments May Keep You Working Longer


Updated July 29, 2012

Workers who have osteoarthritis symptoms face extra stress in the workplace. Depending on the joint or joints affected, it may become difficult to effectively do your job or perform at the level you did prior to developing osteoarthritis.

Are You Doing Your Best Work?

In an effort to try to solve workplace stress, you need to ask yourself some tough questions:

  • Can you still do your job?
  • Is your productivity affected by having osteoarthritis?
  • Does it take you significantly longer to complete a task?
  • Are parts of your job still manageable while other parts have become unmanageable?
  • Are you drained after work, with no energy left for anything else?

Answering those questions should help you develop a vision for what you need to do to improve your situation.

Assessing Your Work Situation

  • The first thing you need to do is assess what interferes with you doing your job. Is it pain? Is it decreased physical function? Is it fatigue?
  • If you are answering yes to those questions, can you think of solutions? Is your pain well-controlled or are you getting unsatisfactory pain relief? It may be time to discuss your problems and workplace stress with your doctor. Maybe there are treatment options which you have yet to try.
  • Are there changes you can make with regard to how you do your work? Is it possible to pace yourself, plan your workload better, or take some work home? Is it possible to conserve energy: can you sit part of the time if your job has you standing most of the day or vice versa?
  • Would it help to talk about options with your employer? Have you considered asking for a later start time, flex schedule, part-time shift instead of full-time? Is there a light-duty job available which may suit you?
  • Have you talked to your co-workers? Have you been honest with co-workers about your work difficulties? Can they help you without imposing on them too much?
  • Are there simple, common sense solutions that you are overlooking? Are you sufficiently protecting your joints at work, wearing comfortable shoes, working in an ergonomic office set-up?
  • Have you checked ADA regulations to see if there is any help for you there?

Note from Carol: Prior to becoming a writer, I worked in a hospital laboratory. During my career, as arthritis made working more difficult, I had to make many adjustments. Each adjustment I made, allowed me to keep working longer. I requested and was granted a later start time. My boss and co-workers were made aware of my limitations and on their own initiative, they became willing to help when needed. Eventually I had to ask for a shorter work week, working three days a week instead of five. I worked it out for as long as I could. Making changes will help you do it too. Workplace stress will decrease and you will feel good about working again. Work it out! Ask yourself what will keep you working longer.


Work and Arthritis. Arthritis Research Campaign. 8/15/2007.

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