The lack of visible chronic lower back pain symptoms can lead to a variety of frustrating experiences—especially at your place of work.
Every employer is different, but you may be able to minimize your workplace frustrations by sharing these 4 truths about your 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 might be led to believe that you are completely healed. But the reality of living with chronic lower back pain is that some days are better than others.
Simply put, your boss needs to know that 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, you might find relief by using one of the following::
- Stand-up desk
- Balance stool
- Kneeling chair
- Exercise ball
Additionally, you may need an ergonomic office chair. While it’s true that ergonomic office chairs can be costly, the pain relief it can provide will likely make you a more productive worker. This means that in the long run a high-quality chair is 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 they need to know that 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. In light of this, you don't look forward to emails or face-to-face conversations regarding the latest 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 most often a personal touch that provides the best 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 at a late dinner the night before. Rather, your chronic lower back pain makes it hard for you to both fall asleep and stay asleep. This can lead to a frustrating cycle where a lack of sleep makes your pain worse, and the increased pain in turn makes it even harder to fall asleep the next night.
Due to your lack of sleep, you may need to take a quick nap during your lunch break—and your exhaustion may also prevent you from being able to have drinks after work with your coworkers. You wish this wasn't the case, but there is little you can do about it.
Sharing this blog with your boss and/or coworkers is a good first step in helping them better understand the reality of living with chronic back pain, and in the process it may also reduce your workplace frustrations.