How Psoriatic Arthritis Can Affect Your Job

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: August 2022

Striking a balance between work and personal life is a challenge for anyone. But for people who live with a chronic condition like psoriatic arthritis (PsA), it can be even harder.1

PsA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. These symptoms can impact a person’s ability to do many daily tasks, including those related to their job. Managing the daily demands of work, job-related stress, commutes, and the challenges of PsA can be difficult.1

According to a 2021 study, people with PsA miss more work days and are more likely to take short-term disability than people who do not have PsA. Work absenteeism can lead to financial struggles and trouble making ends meet.2

Thankfully, there are ways to accommodate physical limitations. If you have PsA, taking a proactive approach can help you manage your condition while maintaining your job.1

The difficulties of working and living with PsA

Nearly all jobs require some form of physical movement. Commuting to your job involves walking and standing. Some jobs involve manual labor. Even with a desk job, you use your hands frequently – holding a pen or pencil, answering phone calls, typing on a computer. Arthritic conditions like PsA can make even the simplest tasks painful.1

A hallmark feature of PsA is swelling of the joints in the fingers and toes (dactylitis). This causes a sausage-like appearance and makes hand and foot movements difficult and painful.3

Unlike some forms of arthritis, PsA can develop at any age. It usually appears in people who are 30 to 50 years of age. This means that many people with PsA are in the workforce and have to find ways to manage their symptoms while keeping their job.1

Managing PsA while at work

Each person with PsA has unique challenges. Some people may live with a mild form of PsA, while others find their symptoms debilitating. Although people deal with their disease in different ways, there are several approaches that can be helpful when dealing with PsA at work.1,3

Treat your symptoms

With the right treatment plan, you can better control your PsA symptoms. Always take your medicine on time. Maintain a self-care routine to control stress.1

By getting your PsA under control, you will be less likely to miss work. Work with your rheumatologist to develop a plan that is right for you.1

Share information with managers or employers

If you feel comfortable doing so, share your condition with your boss. Consider being upfront about how it affects you on a daily basis. That way, they will know what is going on if you need to take time off work.1

When managers understand your situation, they are more likely to be flexible and provide support. You might want to discuss things like:1

  • The time needed for doctors’ appointments
  • Any physical limitations you may have
  • Any needed adaptations at your workplace

Ask for assistive devices and other accommodations

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, each employer with 15 or more employees must provide accommodations for those who need them.1

There are many assistive devices your employer can provide to make daily work activities easier and less painful. These include:1

  • Ergonomic chairs
  • Adjustable workstations
  • Telephones with headsets

In addition, consider asking your boss if you can set up a modified work schedule. For instance, you might request to work from home a few days per week. Your employer may be able to give you more flexibility that can help you manage your symptoms.1

Seeking support outside of work

Occupational and physical therapists often work with people with PsA to help them with everyday tasks, including activities relating to work. They can help you find ways to make tasks easier or less painful.1

Learn and use these strategies to help deal with stress, pain, and fatigue. Taking breaks, getting emotional support from friends and coworkers, and managing symptoms can make working with PsA a bit easier.1

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