Tips For Working with PsA

Psoriatic arthritis causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, which can impact a person’s ability to do many daily tasks, including those related to employment. Working while managing the challenges of psoriatic arthritis can be difficult. There are ways to accommodate physical limitations, and people living with psoriatic arthritis can take a proactive approach in managing their condition at work.1

Impact of psoriatic arthritis on work

Psoriatic arthritis creates a substantial burden to patients and to society. In addition to the direct costs of medical care, there are indirect costs due to the disease, including lost productivity and increased disability that impact daily functioning.2

A recent literature review evaluated 49 published studies between 1998 and 2009 that focused on the direct and indirect costs of psoriatic arthritis, reported measures of clinical burden (including physical function, quality of life, and productivity), and reported related conditions in patients with psoriatic arthritis. Researchers found that the burden of physical disability is substantial in people living with psoriatic arthritis, although they noted the course of the disease is variable and unpredictable, ranging from mild and nondestructive disease to erosive and deforming arthritis. Compared to the general population, people living with psoriatic arthritis have lower rates of employment, ranging from 54-63%. This lower rate of employment is considered to be due to the disabling effects of the disease.2

Taking a proactive approach to work with psoriatic arthritis

Each person with psoriatic arthritis has their own individual challenges, and the disease varies widely as to the severity and extent of joint involvement. While people deal with their disease in different ways, there are several approaches that can be helpful when dealing with psoriatic arthritis at work.

  • Sharing information with managers or employers. People with psoriatic arthritis should consider being upfront about their condition and how it affects them. When managers understand what is going on, they are more likely to be flexible and provide support. Areas to discuss include the time needed for doctors’ appointments, physical limitations, and any needed adaptations.1
  • Utilize assistive devices. There are many assistive devices that can be used in the workplace to make daily activities easier and less painful, from chairs and work surfaces that are adjustable to telephones with large push buttons. Good posture and an ergonomically designed workspace can minimize the strain on your joints.1
  • Ask for support. Occupational therapists often work with people with psoriatic arthritis and other illnesses or disabilities to help them do everyday tasks that are important to them, including work activities. They may make changes to the environment, the task, or the person’s skills needed for the task.3
  • Have needed medication on hand. For those who take medication throughout the day, some medication should be stored in a remedy kit at the office.1
  • Learn and use strategies to help deal with stress, pain, and fatigue. Taking breaks, maintaining a positive attitude, and getting emotional support from friends and coworkers can make it easier to deal with the challenges of psoriatic arthritis at work.1
Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: October 2016.
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