Ask the Patient Advocate About Managing Arthritis in the Workplace

By Lana Latest Activity February 21, 2013 at 9:14 am Views 3,965 Replies 6 Likes 4


More and more arthritis patients are continuing to stay on the job due to advancements in treatment. As you continue to work, you will face more challenges than your healthy coworkers. Moreover, as an employee with chronic illness, you pose a challenge for HR because many of you have forms of arthritis that are unpredictable, frequent and invisible.

What questions do you have for me about managing arthritis in the workplace?

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Replies (6 replies)

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  • vicky464
    vicky464 February 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm   

    Thank you very much

  • vicky464
    vicky464 February 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm   

    Do my employers have any obligation or legal standards with regard to helping me to cope at work. I work in an office full time.

  • Lana
    Lana February 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm   

    Kind of – let me explain. The FMLA of 1993 allows certain employees to take leave to charge for family member without fear of losing his job. It allows an employee to take time off without fear of losing his job if that employee is sick and cannot perform the job because of illness – serious or chronic. You have to be with your company at least one and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours before you qualify. Your employer also has to have a 50 or more person company.

    A chronic serious health condition under FMLA is one that requires periodic visits to your doctor(s), continues over an extended period of time, and may case episodes of incapacity. Typically, the conditions that fall under this category are incurable and involve long term issues, usually with flare up type quality, such as rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and migraines.

    Check with your employer to see if you qualify based on your time with the company and the number of employees that the company has. Contact your HR manager so you can discuss the options available to you and so that you can complete the necessary paperwork including a medication certification. Remember to actually use FMLA when you need it and only when you need it. I hope this information helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

    There is new article up under our Living With Arthritis section that touches on chronic illness in the workplace.

  • Nanamel
    Nanamel February 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm   

    Hi Lana. I don't work outside of the house. I take care of my 2 grandchildren in my home. Today I am in the middle of a flare up and the 18 month old is teething. She's crabby and I hurt. The 4 yr. old wants to run and wrestle. I don't have the time to ice or heat. I am taking 500 mg of Naproxen 2x's a day. What would you advise so I can cope until I can heat/ice?

  • Lana
    Lana February 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm   

    Do you have anything at home like Stopain, or Voltaren or Icy Hot? Since you do not have the issue of odor to worry about (no coworkers to complain), that might be a viable solution. Even if you have a roll-on or spray, you can still use it like a lotion and rub into your hands or obviously you can use for the other pain areas. An electric blanket is also a great thing to have at home. As you know, heat can dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow and provide additional oxygen and nutrients to heal muscles and minimize muscle pain. The warm sensation stimulates and sends signals to the brain to decrease pain. Moreover, heat helps increase joint flexibility and decreases joint stiffness. I hope this helps.

  • Nanamel
    Nanamel February 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm   

    Thank you Lana! I completely forgot I have some of those icyhot patches here. I usually use them at night didn't even think to use it today! So glad you reminded me!

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