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Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Working Women’s Guide

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Positions and Tasks: Mix Them Up

Sitting at your desk and doing the same task over and over are especially hard on your body when you have RA. Sitting at a computer monitor for long periods, for example, can make anyone's joints stiff and sore. Give yourself little breaks throughout the day. Stretch at your desk, go for a brisk walk at lunchtime, and take the long way to the fax machine or restroom.

Try to do different tasks during the day to give your joints a rest. If your job involves repetitive movement, such as turning bolts on machinery or typing, try to break it up with other tasks. Switch back and forth between light and heavy tasks.

Change positions when sitting, and alternate standing and sitting when possible.

On Your Feet: Create a Good Standing Workspace

If you stand most of the day, try alternating putting one foot on a step, low stool, or book so that it is a little higher than the other. This helps keep your pelvis well aligned. Ditch your high heels and go for shoes with good cushioning and support -- and keep heels to an inch high or less. Special inserts in your shoes (orthotics) may also help.

Organize your work area to make it easier on your joints, so that you don't have to lift, reach, or carry too much. If you work in different areas throughout the day, consider using an apron or tool belt to carry the items you need.

At a Desk Job: Sit Pretty

Try this when at your desk: Sit in your chair with good posture and build the work environment around you. Move supplies so that they are within easy reach.

Make sure your chair has lower back support. Ask for an ergonomic chair that supports your lower spine, reclines, and rotates or swivels so you can move easily from one task to another. If your chair doesn't have back support, a pillow or rolled up towel between your lower back and the chair can help. Sit straight with your back and shoulders against the back of the chair.

Adjust the height of your desk and chair. You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees slightly higher than your hips. Prop your feet on a stool or book, if necessary.

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