Chronic pain has been said to be the most costly health problem in America. While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years or a lifetime. Living with chronic pain can lead to loss of appetite, depression, and exhaustion. The pain associated with chronic pain usually overwhelms all other symptoms. Chronic pain can be caused by headaches, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, pain in the nervous system, and psychological pain.
Accommodating Employees with Chronic Pain
People with chronic pain may develop some limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. The degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with arthritis will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.
Questions to Consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training?
Here are some additional devices that relate to this article:
Rob Carr, ICT Accessibility Program Manager
Linda Jaco, Associate Director for Sponsored Programs