Learning how to treat spinal stenosis can be difficult enough, and managing the symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness that can travel through your spine and extremities is even more frustrating. So what do you do when you’re at work, are trying to be productive, but the nagging symptoms of spinal stenosis are distracting you? For most people with mild to moderate spinal stenosis, taking time off work when symptoms flare up simply isn’t an option, so it’s important to learn how you can manage symptoms while on the job.
One of the most convenient ways to manage your discomfort while at work is temperature therapy. Your doctor may prescribe alternating hot and cold applications to the affected region of your spine, and buying reusable gel packs that can be frozen and/or microwaved is an easy way to keep neck pain at bay during working hours. If your workplace does not have a freezer or microwave for you to use, disposable dry packs can also be useful when you’re on the go.
Being at work is especially challenging for individuals with spinal stenosis because many jobs require long periods of sitting or standing. For instance, a computer programmer may be seated for eight hours a day, whereas a server in a restaurant may be on his or her feet for an entire shift. While there aren’t too many ways to get around these challenges, you can take the following precautions so that your spine gets the care it needs:
- Always practice proper posture and body mechanics
- Wear appropriate footwear as recommended by your physician
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Do gentle spine stretches as often as possible
- Use a brace if necessary and only when approved by your doctor
- Keep your pain medication with you at all times
- Contact your doctor if your spinal stenosis pain becomes severe
Talk with your doctor about any challenges you face when dealing with your neck pain while at work. He or she may have specific recommendations that are suited to your lifestyle, and may even be able to recommend an occupational physical therapist who can offer tips and exercises so that you can better understand how to treat spinal stenosis in the workplace.
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