Tips for Taking Care of Your Joints at Work 

In the past, a diagnosis of arthritis meant your days in the workplace were numbered. But with improved treatments and workplace ergonomics, staying employed for as long as you want is possible.  

1. Move around
Neither sitting nor standing on your feet all day is good for you. Prevent locking yourself in one position by alternating sitting and standing, when possible. Try to take a break and stand up every 30 minutes or so. Better yet, take a 2- to 5-minute walk every hour. This will give you a chance to rest frequently used joints, such as your fingers after typing or arms after lifting objects.
2. Ditch the high heels
Unless you're a fashion model, chances are you can live without high heels. Experts say a three-inch heel stresses your foot seven times more than a one-inch heel. In addition, heels put extra stress on your knees and may increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
3. Compute comfortably
Your upper body should be spaced 20 to 26 inches from your computer monitor, the top of which should be at an even line with the top of your head when your head is in neutral position. Your arms should hang comfortably at your sides, elbows at a right angle, with your wrists relaxed while typing.
4. Avoid a pain in the neck
Document holders attached to computer monitors and positioned at eye-level, along with hands-free telephone headsets, can reduce neck strain.
5. Rest your wrists
Purchase a wrist rest for your computer keyboard, and use an ergonomic keyboard and computer mouse. Be careful not to rest your wrist excessively on the rest, though; if it causes compression on your carpal tunnel, it could lead to added problems.
6. Sit tight
For maximum comfort and to reduce strain on joints, finding the right chair is key. A swivel chair on wheels can provide stability and ease of movement. Chairs that provides lumbar support and headrests can help reduce back, neck and shoulder strain. Make sure your feet reach the floor comfortably. 
7. Replace or modify it
Your home office may need a furniture makeover. That chair may be connected to happy memories but if the lumbar support is weak, it’s time to replace it. In the meantime, try using a small pillow or tightly rolled towel to relieve pressure on your lower back. But make sure the towel isn’t too thick so that it forces you to lean forward, creating even more strain.
8. Handle heavy loads
To make heavy loads easier to handle, use your largest, strongest joints and muscles to take stress off smaller hand joints and to spread the load over large surface areas. When you lift or carry items, use the palms of both hands or use your arms instead of your hands, when possible. Hold items close to your body, which is less stressful for your joints. For joint safety, slide objects whenever possible rather than lifting them.
9. Get Flexible
If morning stiffness is an issue for you, consider talking to your employer about flexible working hours. A later start to your day can give you time to warm and stretch your joints and prepare you for the day ahead. Plus, research shows employers who offer flexible hours save costs and have less turnover. 

Make the workplace work for you by doing all you can to manage your disease by following your treatment plan and working with your employer to make adjustments to improve your joint health. For more workplace tips, click here

Employers can help their employees who have arthritis as well as their organization with free information and resources from the Arthritis Foundation. Learn more at Arthritis@Work.

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