Lymphedema & Work
Working with lymphedema can have challenges of its own. Some work environments are not lymphedema-friendly. Furthermore, they can hurt your ability to work. Limited mobility, time-consuming therapy regimens, pain, and psychological stress can all affect job performance. Work can also negatively affect your lymphedema, especially if it involves heavy lifting, repetitive movement, or sitting or standing for long periods.
Ways to Manage Your Lymphedema at Work
You can make some adjustments to help manage your condition while working. The support you receive can also help with the psycho-social effects of living with lymphedema. This 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, sit down when you need to and listen to your body. A stand-lean chair works well for this purpose.
- Work at a comfortable speed that does not stress your affected limb.
- Vary repetitive tasks with other duties. Switch from heavy to light functions throughout the day.
- If you cannot 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 the skin.
- Wear protective gloves when doing tasks that could break the skin.
- Use electric tools to prevent the 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 cannot work for at least a year, you might want to check into disability benefits. You may qualify through either Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs in the United States.
However, the Social Security Agency does not list lymphedema as a disabling condition. 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.
Most importantly, listen to your body. Know when to stop and 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.
Disclaimer: This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.