Putting your best foot forward: Knowing how to discuss your pain at work

Did you know that back pain is among the most common reasons for absence from work.

Long hours of sitting at the desk may cause back and neck pain. However, even if the cause of pain is not work related, workplace conditions may set off the pain or may even make it worse. This may lead to discomfort at work.

Don’t suffer in silence!

It is natural to hesitate before speaking about your pain condition to your employer. Discussing your pain at work with your employer and co-workers may help you cope better.

What you can talk to your employer about
You can request for an alternative schedule that can help you avoid a stressful commute to work during heavy traffic hours. This may be useful as stress can be a trigger for your pain.
If you are experiencing a pain flare, you can ask your employer if you can take work home or compensate for a missed day of work on a holiday.

Make sure your workstation is set up to minimize pain and ensure good posture. You can request for small changes in the workplace design to make sure everything you need is within reach. A properly set up desk, computer and chair will reduce physical exertion and in turn reduce pain.

You can also talk to your employer and co-workers about taking periodic breaks during work hours to get up and stretch or take a short walk.

Speak about pacing your work so that you are not sitting or standing for very long periods. Tasks requiring repetitive movements should be alternated with other tasks.

In addition, you may talk about any work restrictions or adjustments that you might need to cope with pain while at work.

If there are others at your workplace who are also suffering from similar pain conditions, you can ask your employer about forming exercise groups where relaxation exercises to reduce pain can be practiced.

Talk to your employer if you are taking pain medications that may cause side effects. In such cases, it may useful to organize your work schedule to ensure better productivity at work while dealing with pain.

It is important to maintain a positive attitude while dealing with pain at work. So don’t hesitate to discuss about pain with others.