Working with spinal stenosis can present some challenges for both the patient, as well as their employer. Severe stenosis can be physically debilitating and may also make the person prone to tripping and falling. Obviously, this can be a real impediment in the workplace. Despite chronic pain and physical limitations, many people who are affected by spinal canal narrowing do decide to keep on working, either due to personal choice or financial necessity.
This article is dedicated to those patients who persevere, despite the development of possibly symptomatic structural changes in their spines.
Working with Spinal Stenosis Benefits
The primary benefit of continuing to work, despite a diagnosis of spinal stenosis, is the ability to earn money and care for oneself and one’s family. However, this is not the only boon bestowed. Statistically, patients who continue to work, despite chronic pain or neurological expressions, tend to progress slower into disability and many even claim that their vocations help them to manage their symptoms, through positive accomplishment and distraction. Self-esteem can suffer greatly when a person feels that they can not work and this emotional loss can escalate any type of chronic pain. Keeping a presence in the workplace will help to bolster self-esteem, even if physical abilities are reduced.
Physical activity in the workplace can also act as a form of physical therapy. Many patients cite movement as being helpful to their pain and regular controlled vocational activities might be ideal as therapeutic exercise.
Working with Spinal Stenosis Risks
Spinal stenosis can make patients prone to falling down. This can occur regardless of where in the vertebral column the stenotic changes exist. This can present heightened risk to the patient and also expose employers to potential legal liabilities. It seems obvious that all people who are affected by stenosis should avoid working jobs which will place them at risk to fall from a height or on any hard surface. Patients should only work in environments in which they can avoid serious injury, if and when they fall, in order to protect themselves, their co-workers and their employers.
Workplaces which have employees that are suffering from spinal stenosis must be kept clear of any obstacles or hazards which increase the risk of tripping and falling. A bit of prevention can go a long way in reducing the likelihood of injury and subsequent civil litigation. Additionally, patients who use pharmaceutical pain management must be doubly careful when at work. These poisonous substances can impair physical and cognitive abilities, exposing the patient, their co-workers and their employer to heightened risk.
Workers who perform lifting, or other types of manual labor, are also cautioned not to overdo it on the job. Any spinal injury can escalate a stenosis condition to an acute state. In fact, a herniated disc, in an already narrowed central canal, might cause a severe symptomatic expression, such as cauda equina syndrome, and might therefore necessitate surgical correction.
Working with Spinal Stenosis Summary
Employment is a basic human right and patients who continue to work, despite their pain, should be encouraged and commended. However, depending on the severity and cause of the spinal stenosis, it is still prudent for patients who do work to always keep their spines in mind.
Some patients may benefit from a change in careers, whiles others may simply require modified duties. Remember, you are never too old to learn new skills, at any stage of life. Patients with physically-prohibitive vocations, who want to work, should consider finding alternate career paths. This may mean going back to school or starting over in a new field. While these may seem like daunting tasks, they might actually be just what some patients need to find happiness in the workplace, despite their present pain conditions.
I have reinvented myself professionally several times in life and continue to adapt my work environment and requirements to my ever-changing anatomy. It is never too late to change and you may just find that something new might be therapeutic to your health and may even have positive benefits on your life, in general.