Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Working Women’s Guide
The truth is, having RA affects every part of your life. And that's especially true when it comes to the place you may spend the majority of your waking hours: at work. There's a lot you can do to get your workspace setup to minimize the impact RA has on your job. Developing new habits and arranging your workspace to fit your needs -- by applying the principles of ergonomics -- can have a big effect on your productivity and how you feel.
It may surprise you how much some changes can help. A 2004 study of 600 workers with rheumatoid arthritis found that those whose workspaces had been modified to make them more comfortable were 60% less likely to miss work and report a work-related disability.
Not sure how to start? An ergonomic evaluation can help improve the layout of your work area. You can do it yourself by using checklists available online through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Or, depending on your employer, you may be able to ask for a professional evaluation. Your occupational or physical therapist can also help you learn how to do tasks on the job with less stress to your joints.
Here are some other tips for RA-friendly working.
RA and Work: Pay Attention to Posture
"Stand up straight," Mom used to say -- and she was right. Whether you sit or stand on the job, good posture is especially important with rheumatoid arthritis. Poor posture not only puts stress on joints; it can actually waste body energy and increase fatigue, even when you're just sitting.
For good posture, try this: Imagine a string from the ceiling to the top of your head, and then lift your head, neck, and shoulders upward, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Avoid locking your knees and tuck in your pelvis. If you've ever tried walking with a book balanced on your head, you get the idea.