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How to Manage Chronic Pain at Work
From lower back pain to repetitive strain injury, chronic pain makes holding down a job tricky. The pain distracts you from your work, and it can also affect your mood and concentration.
You don’t have to think about giving up your job, however. There are plenty of things you can do to manage your pain levels during the workday. Follow these tips to make sure you can stay focused and productive at work.
Talk to Your Boss
Whether you’re recovering from an acute injury or have a long-term condition such as arthritis or spondylosis, make sure you have a chat with your boss about it. Talk to them about ways you can adapt your working day to help manage your pain levels. For example, if you find your commute difficult during rush hour, ask about a flex schedule whereby you come in early and leave early. Or if early mornings are when your pain is worst, look at starting and ending work later in the day.
You can also discuss remote working if traveling to work is a big problem. Even if you can have one or two days a week working from home, this will drastically increase your ability to manage your pain over the course of the week.
Take Your Lunch Break
Even on your busiest days, block out your lunch break and step away from your desk to do it. Roughly 40% of office workers eat lunch at their desk every day, which leads to additional health problems and can worsen your pain.
If your day is simply fully booked, move a meeting from the office to a walking meeting instead. The gentle exercise and fresh air will help you to stay focused, while the motion of walking will stretch your muscles that have been cramped in a chair all day.
You could even take a lunch-time yoga or meditation class to help reduce pain levels, boost blood flow to the brain for afternoon concentration, and gently stretch out painful areas.
Find out if other people at the office would like to participate in a lunchtime exercise class like this. If a group of you agree to take part each week, it’ll help you maintain motivation to attend as well as build your working relationships.
Adapt Your Workstation
Sitting still at a desk all day can cause healthy people to experience pain, so it’s no surprise that you’re finding it hard to push through your own chronic pain in the same situation.
There are things you can do to make working at a desk as comfortable as possible. If sitting down causes you pain, switch to a standing desk and a tall chair or stool to rest on when you’re tired.
If you’re experiencing hip pain, consider changing your chair or adding a foot rest. Changing the angle of your hip position by raising or lowering your hips or feet can help to alleviate your pain.
Consider the equipment you use, too. Wrist pain is common in office workers, so try a vertical mouse to move your wrist and hand into a more natural position. Consider using desk-mounted arm rests, split keyboards, or monitor risers to adapt your workstation in a way that reduces the strain on your muscles and posture.
Avoid Narcotic Painkillers in the Daytime
While narcotics can take the edge off your pain, they also take the edge off your focus and concentration. Opioid-based painkillers cause drowsiness, too, and there’s nothing worse than feeling sleepy in an important meeting, or making a simple mistake because your mind is foggy.
Instead, opt for opioid alternatives during the day wherever possible. You can try other painkillers, such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen, but these can cause stomach problems when taken consistently over time.
Other opioid alternatives include taking five minutes for a short walk to boost blood flow and reduce muscle strain, a short meditation session on your break, or heat or ice packs on the painful area.
Invest in Portable Pain Relief
Another way to manage your pain during the day without the use of opioid medications is to use electrical stimulation to block the pain signals to your brain.
BioWaveGO is a portable machine that you can take with you and use discreetly at work. It’s safe to use in conjunction with prescription medications, and won’t affect your cognitive ability like opioid medicines do.
The battery-operated module can be managed via a phone app, helping to maintain the discretion of use and giving you full control over the treatment cycle.
If you’re using BioWaveGO to reduce your pain and improve your performance at work, you’ll be pleased to hear the device is also HSA and FSA eligible.