Living with Chronic Pain
6 Tips for Managing Chronic Pain in an Office Environment
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Employees have limited control over the physical environment in the workplace. When individuals with chronic pain work in an office space, certain factors of the office environment, such as the type of work surface, amount of lighting, type of chair, temperature, or the time or space allocated to move, can cause or increase pain. However, there are ways to make working in an office space more comfortable. Here are six tips for reducing pain while working in an office space.
- Ensure correct posture. While standing, body weight should be balanced evenly over both feet without leaning forward or backward. While sitting, the height of the chair should be adjusted so the feet are flat on the ground (or a foot rest) with the thighs parallel to the ground. Individuals should sit with the spine straight and the ears, shoulders and hips vertically aligned.
- Modify or eliminate repetitive tasks. If working on a computer is part of the job, the screen, keyboard and mouse should be placed in ergonomically correct positions. If phone calls consume a considerable part of the workday, utilizing speakerphone or using a headset can prevent neck strain.
- Utilize available tools. Using ergonomic office chairs, wrist rests, keyboard trays, foot rests, and sit-stand desks can help prevent pain from worsening. Specialized computer screens or glasses with polarized lenses can help prevent headaches. Many employers will provide these items for employees if requested.
- Take regular breaks. If sitting in a chair for most of the day is required, taking regular breaks to stand, move, and gently stretch the body are helpful. Taking a two-minute break every half hour can help reduce or prevent pain.
- Reduce and manage stress as much as possible. Stress can cause or worsen headaches and muscle tension. Practicing deep breathing techniques or meditating in a quiet, dark location can reduce stress and pain levels.
- Ask for help when needed. If workplace accommodations are needed, individuals should reach out to their supervisor or human resources department. Accommodations can both reduce pain and increase productivity.
These tips can help prevent increased pain levels in the workplace. This helps to ensure individuals with chronic pain maintain their employment status, which prevents social isolation and boosts self-esteem.