What Loved Ones Should Know About Psoriatic Arthritis in the Workplace
Last updated: June 2020
In many ways, I was lucky I was able to attend a vocational high school. My school offered students the opportunity to try out a variety of programs. While I dreamt of being a nurse as a kid, a weeklong trial of the health program quickly showed me how physically intensive nursing can be. It was the first of many times my juvenile onset psoriatic arthritis would have an impact on my career choices.
Throughout my years of school, everyone from my parents to my advisors encouraged me to search for a career that would lead to a job in an office. That sounded like great advice for someone with arthritis. When I was getting ready for college, I did my homework to make sure my major wouldn't be too physically demanding and was excited about my future.
Psoriatic arthritis and workplace impact
Many years (and many internships) later, I know that desk jobs can be as painful as physical labor for some people with arthritis. Sitting for long stretches can cause stiffness and pain, and many joints can be irritated from repetitive use. Typing, for example, can be strenuous for your hands, elbows, shoulders, neck, and spine.
The realities of the workplace with PsA
I'm very fortunate that I hold a full-time job. While sitting at a computer all day hurts my joints, I'm able to cope by stretching and taking medicine. But just because that works for me doesn't mean it works for everyone.
Unfortunately, people can be quick to dismiss how painful any form of work can be for someone with arthritis. Many people make the assumption that those with arthritis can be employed if they "work in an office." But it's even more painful when that judgment is passed by friends and family.
How loved ones can show support
If your loved one has psoriatic arthritis, please understand that working isn't always easy. For someone in severe pain, sitting upright at a computer for eight hours a day can be torture. Even if your loved one is able to push through a full day of work, they may come home feeling exhausted and sore.
I wish there was a magical solution that made it easier to work. I can recommend ergonomic chairs, braces, and stretches until I'm blue in the face. But, as anyone with arthritis knows, it's not that easy. Even with the best preventative measures, pain, fatigue, and flares still happen.
Support, compassion and understanding
What helps more than any brace or fancy chair is compassion from loved ones. It's not easy to find an arthritis-friendly job, keep a painful job, or make the decision to stop working. But a little support and understanding can go a long way, and your loved one with PsA needs it. Offer to help your loved one, whether it's by lending a hand with chores, offering to help search the want ads for other employment, or even filling out paperwork if they decide to file for disability. Knowing that someone is there for you makes a world of difference.
Do you have any questions about PsA?