How to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis at Work

Can’t seem to manage rheumatoid arthritis on the job? Don’t despair! These tips will help you keep up with job demands.

Barbara Burgower Hordern

Since being diagnosed three years ago, Sara has flown to South America, Asia and the Middle East. Before each big trip, she meets with her rheumatologist to form a game plan. To ward off flares, she adds to her normal medication regimen any vaccines or preventative medications the doctor recommends, including the steroid prednisone.

Before a 14-hour flight to Korea, for instance, Sara’s doctor advised her to take prednisone the day of the flight and the day after. She also was advised to avoid alcohol and to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which can worsen arthritis symptoms. “The doctor even gave me specific instructions on when to eat, when to sleep and when to wake up during the flights,” she says. When flying long distance, Sara also makes sure to walk the aisles and stretch every hour or so to minimize stiffness. 

When you’re planning to fly, for pleasure or business, consider preparing as follows:

  • Arrive at the airport early, especially if you have joint replacements that will set off metal detectors, and have a note from your doctor explaining your situation
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Avoid having to change planes
  • Book an aisle seat so you can stretch and get up easily
  • Bring your doctor’s phone numbers
  • Check your bags
  • Stay hydrated
  • Walk once an hour while waiting in the airport and on the plane

Whether you work from home, in an office or on the road, make the accommodations your body requires to keep arthritis flares, pain and stiffness at bay. The more effort you put into preparation, the less stress you will put on your body—and the happier your workday will be. 

April 2013