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Rheumatoid Arthritis and your Work
Losing or changing your work can be a stressful experience. If you have just been diagnosed with arthritis the last thing you want is for other things in your life to change. Take a deep breath and let’s chat.
Traditionally, work loss in RA is significant. The data tells us that 50% of people with RA will be out of work within 10 years. Please keep in mind this data comes from the days before we had such excellent treatment. These days our goal is to keep our patients at work.
Many of our patients do manual work. They go to work and all day they swing a hammer or work on an assembly line. As a rule, repetitive activity isn’t good for joints with arthritis. It tends to flare them up. If you have a job that requires repetitive work and you’re always flaring your arthritis perhaps it is time to reflect on other options. For some patients, changing jobs just isn’t an option and modifications at work can be really helpful. Discussing the situation with your occupational health department is a good first step.
Work and a feeling of productivity and belonging is really important for us. Many of us define ourselves by our roles in society. It’s really important to discuss this with your rheumatologist so you can work together to prevent permanent work loss. Sometimes a short hiatus from work is necessary to get things under control.
Remember, there is lots of hope and we’ve had many patients overcome adversity and get back to work.