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How to Handle RA at Work


Work from home. Your boss may let you work from home 1 or more days per week to help you manage fatigue. It depends on your duties and how flexible your company is.

“More and more today, highly skilled people are spending a day or two at home, even if they don't have a chronic illness,” Smith says.

Ask for other duties. If your body isn’t up to the job you have, ask your boss if you can take on a new role with lighter duties. A note from your doctor may help.

If you have trouble moving your hands, they can get weak, Esdaile says. That will make lifting or carrying a problem.

Change your schedule. Some bosses let people work flexible hours. If your rush-hour commute makes you too tired, ask your boss to let you start and finish early or late.

Switching your work hours “can make a big difference,” Esdaile says. “The employer is going to be happy because the worker is getting more work done.”

Talk to your doctor. When you do ask your boss about making sensible changes, your doctor can help.

“Part of the role of rheumatologists is providing support for accommodations,” Esdaile says. “Employers tend to respect their opinions.”

Know your benefits. Talk to someone in human resources to find out if you can get disability insurance, Smith says. Apply for short-term disability in case a problem arises and you need time off.

Stay active. If you walk or exercise most days, you'll be in better shape in and out of the office.

“It's important for people with RA to remain as active as possible and try to function as best as they can,” Fischer says. “We want to keep people doing well without pain.”

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Reviewed on November 21, 2014

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