How to Make Your Office RA-Friendly

Patient Expert
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A big part of making your office RA-friendly is to make sure you have a lot of these items on hand so you’re not constantly lugging them back and forth to the office. A big, heavy, burdensome bag can make trekking into the office dreadful. But these items can set your office up to be a much more pleasant place to go!

Stock up on snacks

Many medications prescribed for RA need to be taken with food, but often med schedules don’t line up with lunch schedules. To combat this, keep a stash of snacks available that can be grabbed on the go. These are also great to have on hand to settle your stomach from med-related side effects. Try pretzels, almonds, protein bars, and few cans of flavored seltzer water.

Protect yourself from infection

Is there anything worse than working in a cubicle farm with nowhere to hide one’s fragile immune system during cold and flu season?! Be sure to have hand sanitizer, antibacterial cleaning wipes, and surgical masks on hand to protect yourself from other people’s germs.

Backup footwear

For women and men alike, many work appropriate shoes look great but leave a lot to be desired in the comfort department. Keep a spare pair of comfortable shoes under your desk for moving around the office, stepping out for lunch, etc., and save the dressier shoes for meetings, presentations, and other events.

Alternatives to pain medication

Pain management comes with a unique set of challenges during working hours, as many medications prescribed for pain have cognitive side effects. Having other pain aids available can help take the edge off when dealing with side effects isn't an option. Some good possibilities include analgesic pain patches and gels and compression gloves, splints, and braces for added support and comfort.

Comfortable layers

Due to safety concerns, many offices prohibit employees from using space heaters while freezing employees with supercharged A/C! Keep a cozy cardigan and a scarf or two on hand to keep joints warm and comfortable, even during the summer months! As an added bonus, a colorful scarf gives a drab cubicle a nice pop of color.

Heat and cold therapy

Sitting all day can wreak havoc on already sore joints. Heat and/or cold therapy can ease this pain, and there are many small, discreet heat or cold packs available today that can be used relatively unnoticed in an office. Look for rechargeable units that can easily be taken into conference rooms for those long meetings and conference calls.

Emergency medication

It’s annoying when you’ve made it all the way into work only to realize that you’ve forgotten your neatly packed lunch at home — but forgetting medication is a much more serious concern. In a secure location at your office, keep a full day’s worth of medication as a backup. It’s also helpful to include any over-the-counter medications that you frequently use, like pain therapies or cold medicine.

A little support

Another way to alleviate the stress caused by sitting for prolonged periods is to ensure that your back and other joints are properly supported. Lumbar support cushions, as well as keyboard and mouse pads, can help to alleviate common pain points.

In case of emergency

From Medic Alert jewelry to In Case of Emergency (ICE) apps, there are many discreet ways to provide medical information in the event of an emergency, but these resources become especially important when so many of us choose not to disclose our RA to our employers. If no one in your office is aware of your diagnosis, be sure you have a way to alert emergency responders with relevant information.

Something to hold onto

Having RA while working outside the home poses a unique set of challenges – from managing pain and symptoms while trying to stay productive, to navigating the stress of disclosing our illness. Some days are harder than others, and on those days it’s helpful to have a little inspiration or mantra to hold onto. My office prominently features the saying, “Pretend to be bold until you FEEL bold!”