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At Work

Should You Tell Your Employer About Your Condition?

You’re at work for most of the day. You need to feel productive and able to complete your work in a way that reflects well on you. Living with chronic pain and trying to do your work while ignoring your pain won’t do you any favors. It could make your situation worse and increase your pain.

You employer won’t know that you are in pain if you don’t tell them. Your employer won’t be able to understand that you have a lot of medical appointments, that you need to work at your own pace or that you have your own way of getting the job done if they are not aware of your situation and may even misinterpret your actions. You will need your employer’s cooperation and understanding to work and reach your full professional potential.

The way you work can contribute to your pain and may even make it worse. Various situations at work may increase your pain levels. Depending on circumstances, your workplace environment and the way you work may trigger your pain. Such examples can be:

Depending on circumstances, your workplace environment and the way you work may trigger your pain.

The chair is at the wrong height, not adjusted to you;

The keyboard is misplaced or in an awkward position;

Constantly repeating movements, doing the same movements over and over again;

Incorrectly lifting heavy objects;

Working long periods of time without taking a break;

Standing on a hard surface for long periods of time.

Based on circumstances, your workplace as well as the way you work could trigger a pain flare.

It’s not always easy to realize which workplace aspects may be causing your pain. There are healthcare professionals who have studied the subject and are referred to as occupational therapists. Along with physiotherapists, kinesiologists and ergonomists, these healthcare professionals have the education and training to help you. There are some employers who work with one or several of these professionals to help optimise health and safety in the workplace. They have the qualifications to help you and your employer improve elements in the workplace that may be influencing your work and performance and help you reach your full potential.

If you are involved in a return to work program, a work conditioning program or a program designed by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (Occupational Health and Safety), you may work with one or several of these professionals. Such programs are developed to rehabilitate and assist you while performing tasks related to the injury sustained in the workplace.

How Can Occupational Therapists Help You?

Occupational therapists are trained to care for your “whole” body. They help you enjoy your productive and important daily activities. They take into consideration physical, environmental, social and psychological components of where you live and work, including how you perform your work duties.

Occupational therapists assess how your pain impacts your daily life. They focus on the following:

  • A person’s self-care;
  • A person’s paid and unpaid work;
  • A person’s ability to pursue their interests and leisure activities;
  • A person’s habits or routines;
  • A person’s family relationships;
  • A person’s relationship with their employer.

They pay a particular attention to the way psychosocial and environmental factors exacerbate your pain. They may help you use your pain management strategies through activities that you want to perform.

Occupational therapists help you improve your abilities and improve your level of function, which can increase your ability to do what you want to do, as long as you let them help.

An occupational therapist will discuss your goals as well as how you would like to achieve them. They assess your pain and how it impacts what you can and cannot do, and how it affects your quality of life as a whole. According to your goals and preferences, the occupational therapist may work with you on an individual basis or as part of a group.

An Occupational Therapist Can:

  • Understand your pain;
  • Ensure that you feel supported by others;
  • Create strategies to help you continue to enjoy activities that are important for your daily life;
  • With your permission, an occupational therapist may also work with others within your network of relationships, such as your employers, professors and family.

Resources Available at Work

Your occupational therapist can help you find local or online resources to reduce your pain or improve your abilities at work or at home. If movement is an issue, there are also tools or devices that can be purchased to help you improve your mobility.

Another alternative is to visit to get tips and tricks on purchasing specialized equipment.

Tips for Promoting a Pleasant Work Environment

If you spend most of your life sitting at a desk, make sure your chair, desk and computer are well adjusted to your needs.;

Take frequent 5-minute breaks at work, especially if you must remain seated, standing or if you repeat the same movements for long periods of time;

Avoid bending and lifting heavy objects as much as possible; When you do lift an object, keep your knees bent and the object close to the body; Avoid twisting or turning when standing back up. Ask for help.

At work, pay attention to the factors that make your pain worse. Use the strategies that seem to help reduce your pain.

Tips for promoting Health and Wellbeing for People Living with Pain

Try to be more physically active. By increasing and improving your strength and flexibility, you may also be able to better manage your pain. Start exercising by performing slower and gentler movements, and increase your level of difficulty as your body adapts. Speak with your physician when trying something new like yoga or Chi Kung.

Combine physical activity with time spent with friends and families. This could help you stay engaged and boost your motivation.

Try to include fun activities into your daily life. Pleasant moments can sometimes distract you from your pain. Focus on these activities and remember them as moments when you weren’t thinking about your pain. Even when fun only lasts a few minutes, 15-20 minutes, this will help you relax and find more enjoyment out of life.

Eat a healthy diet and see a dietitian if need be.

Talk with a healthcare professional if you have sleep issues.

Use your spiritual knowledge to help you confront your pain in a way that feels constructive. Speak with a spiritual adviser, their guidance could be helpful.

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