Getting to Work: 6 Tips to Ease Psoriatic Arthritis Pain on the Job

Don’t let PsA impact your career goals.

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Whether it’s crazy hours, looming deadlines, or a demanding boss, every job has its challenges. For people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA)—an inflammatory form of arthritis that affects about 30 percent of people with psoriasis—painful, swollen joints and fatigue can make work much more difficult.

Having psoriatic disease not only significantly affects a person’s overall quality of life, but it can also impact their career path. One 2014 study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental of Rheumatology found that 35 percent of psoriatic arthritis patients felt the disease had limited their work productivity, and 14 percent reported that the disease led them to work fewer work hours.

What’s more, a National Psoriasis Foundation survey found that 12 percent of psoriatic arthritis patients said they turned down a promotion because of their disease, and 21 percent said it caused them to leave their jobs.

Steady work is where most people make their living, and a fulfilling job is where many find purpose and passion. Feeling like your disease is standing in the way of your livelihood can be frustrating and devastating.

Thankfully, all hope is not lost. There are things patients can do to control their psoriatic disease and continue to thrive in their career.

1. Stick to your prescribed PsA treatment plan. Adhering to your medication and treatment plan prescribed by your doctor is the most important thing you can do to control your condition. One 2014 study conducted by researchers from the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases found that patients who started a biologic known as a tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitor saw a dramatic improvement in work productivity. Learn more about different psoriatic arthritis treatment options.

Important note: If you feel like your treatment isn’t working, tell your doctor. They can help you find a better fit.

2. Stock up on PsA-friendly office supplies. Ergonomic furniture and supplies—a desk, chair, computer mouse, mouse pad, or computer—are specially designed to ease your aches. You may also consider items like a foot rest, an electronic stapler, or easy-grip scissors. Here are more ways to make your deskspace more comfortable.

3. Wear the right clothing for the job. And we don’t just mean adhering to your company’s dress code. Finding comfortable clothing (that’s still work appropriate) can minimize the pressure on your joints. Choose breathable, natural fibers such as cotton or silk, and don’t wear clothes or shoes that are too tight.

4. Manage psoriasis symptoms, such as flaky skin or scalp, or pitted nails. Having a healthy psoriasis skin routine can help you feel your best while on the job, allowing you to focus on your work. Use over-the-counter products or talk to your doctor about prescription medications that can help. Here are more lifestyle tips to help you manage psoriasis symptoms.

5. Talk to your employer about your psoriatic arthritis. Discussing your condition with your boss may be the ticket to getting an ergonomic workstation, or a more flexible or work-from-home schedule. What’s more, having open and honest communication with your employer may also help relieve work-related pressure and stress.

If you’re concerned that your employer will fire or punish you because of your chronic condition, just know: Legally, they can’t. In fact, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, companies with 15 employees or more have to make “reasonable accommodations” to help you perform your job more effectively.

6. Move regularly. Sitting for long periods of time can make you stiff. Walk or stretch to loosen joints at least five minutes every hour. Check out these yoga stretches you can do at your desk.

Everyone’s work situation—and psoriatic arthritis—is different. If you have questions about yours, talk to a doctor or an occupational therapist. They’re the best source of personalized PsA tips to help you thrive in life and at work.