Chronic lower back pain doesn't have many visible symptoms, which can lead to a variety of frustrating experiences at work.
We hope you can minimize your work-place frustrations by sharing these 4 truths about chronic back pain with your boss:
1. You have good days and bad days
If your boss or coworkers catch you on a high-functioning day, they can easily be lead to believe that you must be completely healed. But the reality of living with chronic lower back pain is that some days are better than others.
So one high-functioning day does not mean you no longer suffer from chronic back pain. In fact, the next day you might feel like you can barely get out of bed.
It’s also important to let your boss know that you don’t allow your pain to dictate your happiness—so a smile does not mean that you’re pain free.
2. You may need special workplace accommodations
Sitting in a chair for hours at a time is hard on your lower back. To alleviate your pain, you may need your boss to supply alternatives to the everyday office chair. For example, any of the following may relieve your pain:
- Stand-up desk
- Balance stool
- Kneeling chair
- Exercise ball
Additionally, you may need an ergonomic office chair. While it’s true that an ergonomic office chair can be costly, the pain relief it can provide will likely make you a more productive worker. So in the long run a high-quality chair is certainly worth the initial investment.
3. There is no magic cure for your lower back pain
You appreciate the sentiment behind treatment suggestions from your boss and coworkers, but there is no magic cure for your chronic lower back pain. The reality is that you’ve tried a myriad of treatments to alleviate your lower back pain—some helped a little, others not at all. This means that you don't look forward to email forwards relating to lower back treatments.
Instead of treatment suggestions, what you need is support and encouragement. A kind word or note is a lot more helpful than information about a new procedure a colleague read about online. It is a personal touch that can provide a pick-me-up on a hard day.
4. Your lower back pain affects your sleep
When you come into the office tired, it is not because you were out to a late dinner the night before. Rather, your chronic lower back pain makes it hard to both fall asleep and stay asleep.
This can lead to an annoying cycle where your chronic back pain makes it hard to fall asleep, and a lack of sleep in turn makes your pain worse. So you may need to nap during the day, and your exhaustion may prevent you from being able to go out to lunch with your coworkers. You wish this wasn't the case, but there is simply little you can do about it.
Of course, you don't want to barge into your boss' office and make demands. But sharing this blog with your boss and coworkers may go a long way to helping you avoid workplace frustrations.