"The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 76.5 million Americans suffer from it [pain], with arthritis and back pain accounting for up to 60% of the cases. For some reason - researchers have not yet figured out why - most of the sufferers are women." Times Magazine
On the outside, individuals dealing with acute and chronic pain look like everyday people. They deal with the normal challenges of everyday life, work, and taking care of their families. However, on the inside they are dealing with unbearable discomfort and battle with the emotions and stress connected to that level of pain.
Most of us are familiar with the pain scale chart at the doctor's office and hospital exam room. This scale ranges from 1 to 10 along with facial expressions that relate to the amount of discomfort we are experiencing. However, someone dealing with acute and chronic pain experience pain above and beyond 10; some conditions surpassed the pain of childbirth which is a level 15!
For them pain is a serious and very real burden brought on by injuries or various forms of autoimmune diseases. Even worse getting coworkers and peers to understand that level of pain can be a stress in and of itself. The average person is use to over the counter drugs and the pain subsiding after a few hours or days. Imagine that level of pain being consistent for months and years on end without much relief.
Those who experience this level of pain fear the security of their jobs and their ability to maintain an appropriate level of productivity. They must maintain their health insurance so that they are able to be treated by specialists and manage their pain with the appropriate drugs. It's a Catch-22 with pain and stress.
There are a few ways to accommodate employees dealing with pain.
• Ensure their workspace prevents and helps alleviate pain.
• Allow them the opportunity to be consistent with their pain management appointments.
• Create a flexible work schedule where there are options for: shorter days, work from home, and longer breaks.
These accommodations will allow them to continue to contribute to their workplace.
Are you aware of employees that are dealing with chronic pain daily?
Do you have a strategy that provides resources they need to be productive employees?
Addressing these concerns can make a difference in the outcomes of your department or organization. Your bottom line and success rise on the ability of your employees to produce positive outcomes. Chronic pain can affect their ability to help you meet these standards. Therefore, proper accommodations will benefit them and your organization.