Comprehensive Pain Management
(Formally known as Franklin Pain and Wellness and Warwick Pain)

Attleboro, MA(508) 236-8333
Franklin, MA(508) 507-8818
South Kingstown, RI (401) 234-9677
Warwick, RI(401) 352-0007

Franklin, MA • (508) 507-8818
Warwick, RI • (401) 352-0007
South Kingstown, RI • (401) 234-9677

Franklin Pain and Wellness Center

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How Chronic Pain Impacts the Workforce

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 23, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA

Chronic pain is affecting more and more Americans. A recent study revealed that chronic or severe pain affects nearly 50 million American adults on a consistent basis. What impact does chronic pain have on the workforce, and how can an HR team better support these individuals?

An Invisible Disability

Chronic pain is typically defined as pain which lasts for three to six months or longer. It is very often an invisible disability, which makes it very difficult for people to live with. They may need to take more sick days, or go through periods of time where their productivity takes a hit — and their fellow colleagues may not understand why. This absenteeism also has a financial cost. A survey revealed that approximately $24.2 billion is lost annually in the professional sector as a result of absenteeism from poor health.

When someone needs to miss work due to illness or injury, impacts are felt throughout the organization. Other people may step in to take on the work, or a new hire may be trained up if their time off work is more substantial. At first your financial statements may not seem impacted, yet the Integrated Benefits Institute estimates that opportunity costs of disability can amount to an additional 38 percent of absent workers’ wages for the U.S. workforce.

Helping Those with Chronic Pain

For HR directors or managers, it can feel like there is no clear approach to dealing with chronic pain in an effective manner. However, there are various ways to manage chronic pain in the workplace, and the importance of incorporating compassion into the process cannot be overstated.

Here are several ways you can support your workers:

Break Down the Stigma: One of the major barriers that people with chronic pain endure is the fact that it’s so often an invisible disability. People may not look like they have anything wrong with them, yet they are battling a very real illness. Be proactive in building a wellness culture in your organization. Take steps to eliminate barriers that might cause people to not seek help or explain what they’re dealing with, whether through educational meetings, personal sit-downs, or proactively checking in with someone whose productivity is dipping, to see whether there is a bigger issue at play.

Enhance Awareness of Treatment Options: Many people who suffer from chronic pain do so without knowing where to turn. By providing employees with information about effective treatment options, they can find the best plan for dealing with the pain. You can adapt the office environment such as incorporating ergonomic stations where people can work — and make sure that employees are taking their breaks.

Offer Benefits Like Disability Insurance: The chances of someone having an illness or injury that puts them out of work for several months is higher than most people realize. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, one in four of today’s 20-year olds will experience a disability before retirement age. Disability insurance is an affordable benefit that helps to protect an employee’s income if they do need to take time off the job — reducing the financial pressure while they recover.

Chronic pain isn’t something that’s going to disappear from the professional landscape, but its impacts can be lessened with the right approach. By building a workplace culture that is open and inclusive, you’ll be able to support employees and boost morale across the organization.

For more information on chronic pain management, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA.

Source: disabilitycanhappen.org

Chronic Pain Triggers to Avoid

Joseph Coupal - Friday, March 09, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA

If you’re among the 1 in 5 people in the U.S. living with chronic pain, you know that some days are better than others — even when you’re rigorously following your treatment plan.

In those instances, the pain is often triggered by something out of your control, like the weather or a sudden bout of catastrophic thinking. Some of these triggers are universal, while others are a bit more personal. Read on to learn how to recognize what’s setting off your pain and the strategies for relieving it.

Stress

Nearly everyone with chronic pain can experience a worsening of symptoms when they’re very stressed. If a patient’s pain is relatively stable and they then experience a stressful problem in their life, invariably the pain gets worse.

What to do: Try mindfulness-based stress reduction, which can also reduce pain. Until you deal with the stress, no amount of medication is going to help.

Weather Changes

It’s not just a superstition. When the temperature climbs or dives, you may notice a change in symptoms. Even extremely heavy winds can worsen your pain levels.

How the weather affects a person’s pain is hard to prove scientifically, but one January 2015 study in the journal Pain Medicine found that patients with fibromyalgia said that weather changes were one of their main triggers.

What to do: Short of going on vacation, staying indoors during a weather change is the best way to manage the pain. Arthritis patients with chronic pain often feel better if they dress warmly and wear gloves.

Too Little Sleep

Sleep and chronic pain have a complicated relationship. It’s a very vicious cycle. The more pain you have, the less well you will sleep. And the less you sleep, the more you will have pain. In fact, 95% of people with chronic pain have sleep problems.

What to do: Practice something that doctors call “good sleep hygiene.” That means no TV or other electronics in the bedroom. Television and cell phones emit light, and light can stimulate brain activity and make it harder to fall sleep, he says. Other rules: Don’t exercise two to three hours before bedtime and try to finish a meal or alcohol beverage at least four hours before you want to fall asleep.

Inflammatory Foods

It’s thought that certain foods (like the processed kinds) may cause inflammation in the body, which then triggers more pain. But the supporting research isn’t “rock solid” and it’s difficult to say how many people these types of foods affect. (And some patients may not make the connection between a flare-up and what they just ate.)

What do to: If you experience a flare-up after eating a certain food, avoid it. Processed fare, for instance, triggers more inflammation than green leafy vegetables or tree nuts. You can also add anti-inflammatory foods like olive oil and salmon to your diet.

Catastrophic Thinking

When you’ve been living with chronic pain, it’s natural to think that things will get worse. You get a little pain in the tip of your finger and you decide your arm is falling off. Well, that tendency to “catastrophize” will only make you feel worse.

In fact, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy: In a 2011 study in General Hospitality Psychiatry, researchers found that chronic pain patients who both catastrophized and were depressed were more likely to have pain-related disability.

What to do: Pay attention to your thoughts. When you start worrying , notice it without judgement. Say, “There I go again,” not, “What’s wrong with me?” By cutting off these catastrophic thoughts, you might find it easier to go about your daily life, suggests the authors of the 2011 study. If you need to seek help, try to choose a psychologist or counselor who specializes in treating chronic pain patients.

For more information on pain management, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA.

Source: everydayhealth.com