Lymphedema & Work: 12 Tips to Improve Your Work Environment!
This week we're so excited to partner with Theresa from The Compression Closet who wrote this wonderful post on working while you have lymphedema. I feel so lucky that I get to work from home but I know so many of you are still working outside the house. Theresa has some great advice for making your workplace work for your lymphedema.
Working with lymphedema can have challenges of its own. Some work environments are not lymphedema-friendly. Furthermore, they can have a negative effect on your ability to work. Limited mobility, time-consuming therapy regimens, pain and psychological stress can all affect job performance. Work can also play a negative effect on your lymphedema, especially if it involves heavy lifting, repetitive movement, sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Ways to Manage Your Lymphedema at Work
There are some adjustments you can make to help manage your condition while working. The support you receive can also help with the psycho-social effects of living with lymphedema. This in turn can create a positive environment for managing lymphedema more effectively.
12 Tips to Create a More Friendly Work Environment!
* If your job requires long periods of sitting, try to get up and take a short walk every hour. Movement helps lymph flow. When you can, try to elevate your legs. Elevation helps to fight the effects of gravity on your lower legs.
* On the other hand, if you are standing for long periods of time, sit down when you need to and listen to your body. A stand lean chair works well for this purpose.
* Work at a speed that is comfortable and does not stress your affected limb.
* Vary repetitive tasks with other duties. Switch from heavy to light tasks throughout the day.
* If you are unable to get up from sitting, do some stretching exercises while sitting. Even rocking ankles back and forth will help move lymph fluid.
* Discuss flexible hours or the possibility of remote work options with your employer.
* Reduce tasks that involve heavy lifting.
* Use a compression garment to help manage swelling and protect skin.
* Wear protective gloves when doing tasks that could break the skin.
* Use electric tools to prevent strain of repetitive muscles.
* Request help when needed, don’t strain your body unnecessarily.
Lymphedema and Disability Benefits
If your lymphedema has progressed to the point where you are unable to work for at least a year, you might want to check into disability benefits. You may qualify though either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs in the United States.
However, at this time lymphedema is not listed as a disabling condition with the Social Security Agency. Instead, they will decide whether or not your lymphedema is medically equal to other listed conditions like chronic venous insufficiency, joint dysfunction or others.
If your lymphedema does not qualify, it may still be evaluated for functional limitations. Disability benefits vary from country to country and from time to time so you will want to check your local disability agency or a disabilities attorney.
Self Care and Lymphedema
Most importantly, listen to your body. Know when to stop, and furthermore know when to ask for help. Self-care is not selfish, it is essential when dealing with lymphedema. Just a few adjustments throughout your day can make a big difference in your ability to manage your lymphedema at work. Your comfort will improve your productivity and your job satisfaction.
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Disclaimer: This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.