Working With Pain: 10 Tips

Continuing to work can be a challenge for many people who live with the pain of arthritis or other diseases, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a career. Here we offer 10 tips for working with pain to help you find, keep, and thrive at a job.

1. Know your rights

One of the first things to understand is that you have legal rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, and earlier laws such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also give important protections to workers.

“Being considered ‘disabled’ under the ADA is different than qualifying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration,” says Ashley Lindberg, a patient navigator with the National Psoriasis Foundation. “It prevents your employer from discriminating against you if you can successfully perform the essential functions of your job.”

The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more workers. If you are otherwise qualified for the job, an employer cannot discriminate against you because of your pain. The law covers all areas of employment from hiring and job assignments to promotion, pay, and benefits. It even applies to discrimination in company-sponsored social events.

To be protected by the law, you must have a disability that, according to the act, “substantially limits” a major life activity such as walking, performing manual tasks, or working. Of course, you still have to have the education or work experience the employer requires for the position.

Kurt Ullman is a medical writer and a registered nurse. He has worked as a nurse, mostly in psychiatry, and as a staff writer and editor in radio, television, magazines, and newspapers.

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