An image of a brunette woman wearing a green jack leaning back in her chair away from the laptop in front of her. She is rubbing her forehead with her eyes closed.Experiencing pain can make everyday life difficult and can be especially hard to handle when you’re trying to work at the same time. Today, we’re sharing four tips focused specifically on helping you manage pain at work.

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4 Tips for Dealing with Pain at Work

Sep 30, 2022

An image of a brunette woman wearing a green jack leaning back in her chair away from the laptop in front of her. She is rubbing her forehead with her eyes closed.

Experiencing pain can make everyday life difficult and can be especially hard to handle when you're trying to work at the same time. Pain can distract you and keep you from doing your best at work. It can also affect your mental wellbeing and your interactions with colleagues. But there are steps you can take that may help you manage the impact that pain has on your work.

September is Pain Awareness Month, a time to learn about pain management and raise awareness of people who have pain often. The American Chronic Pain Association offers a variety of resources that address coping strategies and tactics that can help as you deal with pain. Today, we're sharing four tips focused specifically on helping you manage pain at work.

  1. Communicate with your boss or human resource (HR) manager. If you're unable to perform your job effectively because of pain, it's important to speak with your supervisor or HR manager. Disclosing your problems with pain may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it might help in getting you the support you need to do well in your position. Disclosure is a personal choice and not a requirement to secure employment as a person with a disability. If you do choose to disclose your disability as part of an accommodation request, you can control exactly how much you share with your workplace, discussing only the limitations and modifications your supervisor needs to know in order to effectively complete your job. Learn more about disclosure of medical conditions in our blog post Disclosure: Let's Talk About It.
  2. Request reasonable accommodations. When you talk with your boss or HR, discuss what changes in your work situation you think would help you do your best work. Accommodations for chronic pain may include providing an ergonomic workstation, software solutions or a reallocation of duties. Learn more about chronic pain accommodations from the Job Accommodation Network.
  3. Ask for a flexible work schedule. Another possible accommodation is flexibility in your work schedule. For example, if you find that your pain is more intense later in the day, consider asking for an earlier shift. Or maybe you could explore a hybrid role. Another possibility to consider is taking one long break instead of several small ones to give your body a rest. As with any accommodation, communicate with your supervisor to create solutions that work for everyone. If you don't ask, you'll never know what's possible to make work a more comfortable and productive experience.
  4. Stay on top of self-care: Taking care of yourself while at work, and outside of work is a key role in pain management. Self-care isn't limited to exercising as you are able, eating well and getting plenty of sleep. When it comes to self-care at work, be sure to take all your available breaks. Use the time to stretch or walk around if you're able, meditate, get outside or do another activity you enjoy. It's too easy to fill your break time with tasks from your "to do" list. Be sure your list includes some self-care activities.

Working while managing pain can be hard, but we're here to help. Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, eligible participants can work with service providers to receive the supports and services they need to find and maintain employment as they move toward financial independence through work.

Connect with a Ticket Program service provider such as an Employment Network (EN) for career counseling, including help with identifying reasonable accommodations. ENs may be able to offer ongoing employment support as you make sure a job still fits your needs.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

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If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment, and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

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