Anybody working fulltime with chronic pain?

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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 11/2/2007 9:16 AM (GMT -6)   
Good morning everyone,  I'm wondering if any of you have suggestions for getting through the day if you are working fulltime with your pain - if so, I would love to hear from you.  I work in an office environment that requires sitting most of the day; unfortunately, sitting is the worst position for me.  My neurosurgeons have suggested that I get up every 15 mins., drive no more than 15 mins at a time, and would prefer that I don't work altogether.  My husband has been out of job since the beginning of the year, with no prospects in sight, so I work for the benefits I have to have. 
I'm carrying this crazy, guilty feeling in hiding my pain and frustration in the office ... we have to have the benefits so I can't jeopardize the job.  Each day is worse than the day before.  If you aren't in this nutty position, then tell God thank-you.   If you are, then I would be anxious to hear how you cope.  fyi..I'm a 56 yr. old guessed it, working at the computer, sitting through meetings, etc.
Thank you so much, Nina

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 196
   Posted 11/2/2007 12:50 PM (GMT -6)   
I am a 27 yr old female and can certainly relate to working full time while dealing with chronic pain for the last 10 1/2 months. I deal with migraines, tension headaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain all due to a MVA last Decemeber. Both my husband and I work fulltime, but we both have to, to get by.In the beginning of this my job was not that busy, so I was able to get up and move around as needed, and didn't have to stare at the computer all day. There were many many days where the pain was so bad that I should not have been at work, but went anyway. My bosses and coworkers knew of my condition and were supportive of it. How did I deal with it? Not well, but I did. I had no choice really. Soon depression took over my life, and I was like a zombie at work. It felt as if I had a dark cloud above me. It was horrible! I describe the pain as a monster that took over every aspect of my life.  The other aspect that messed me up at work was all the medication I was on. It literally clouded my brain and I made several mistakes that came back to haunt me. It also added to the depression. Finally I decided to get off them, especially since they weren't working!
I don't know, something finally clicked and I worked my way out of the black cloud. I changed my attitude into something more positive. Doctors could never figure out exactly what is causing the pain and told me to try and forget about it and move on. easier said than done. But I tried my best to have a positive attitude and know that I would not be in pain forever.
I am getting better. I have more good days than bad, but still get bad days frequenty and when I say bad, I mean really bad. But like I said, my supervisor knows of my condition, and I signed up for intermittent FMLA so that if I miss work due to this monster, I will not lose my job. That alone relieved a lot of stress. It might be something you should look into.
Good luck to you!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 763
   Posted 11/2/2007 2:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Nina what is your chronic pain from . Could surgery help . Whats the problem ? Sometimes there is help out there even if its Medication, but some medications work for certain things.

Syringomyelia T4-T10
Chiari Malformation
Decompression Surgery 1999
"Sometimes You've Gotta Laugh To Keep From Screaming"


Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 275
   Posted 11/2/2007 7:25 PM (GMT -6)   

Nina, I know how hard it is to work while in pain. I did it for many years. At the time I was undiagnosed and kept thinking I just needed to "deal". My last year of working I was on pain meds and it helped although it was still very hard.  Finally I couldn't do it anymore and filed for disability which was granted in 04. I was bringing in 60% of our income and carried my own insurance so it was quite an adjustment when we went down to just my husbands income and I had to go on his insurance. 

I'm sorry you're in the this situation.  Would you be able to stop if your husband found something?  Have you thought about disability, is that an option?


Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 138
   Posted 11/2/2007 8:56 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Nina! Re your question about working FT with CP, here's what's helped me: I teach elementary so at least I can move around, but there's a lot of potential bendin, twisting, etc which I need to avoid. So I do that. I try not to sit more than I absolutely need to & at mtgs I stand in the back, or sit on an aisle so I can get up, b/c sitting for more than 15 minutes just doesn't work.
My PM doc RX'd a few boxes of Lidocaine 5% patches, which I wear during the day (you can use to 3 at one time, but more than 2 made me woozy) & that helps me a lot, takes the "edge" off the worst. I take 500 mg of asprin every 4 hrs during the day, as I can't be "drugged" while w/ the kids. But at night, I take my bigger stuff....I've found Flexeril helpful to relax after "holding myself in" all day & I still need 7.5 mg of Restoril to sleep, as any position is uncomfortable after about 20 minutes.....but after the Restoril kicks in (about 20 mins) I don't notice much until the alarm goes off at 5AM....

You count the days you need to work each month. Gear up for them & try to crash (at home) the remainder of the month. I've given up most of my social connections & I'm a miser w/ my free time. Rest when you can, cut all all unnecessary "other stuff" and respect your body--listen to it. Mine tells me (LOUDLY) when I've over-done it. I have 146 days to June & 387 to retirement. I just cross them off each night & hope for the best each new morning.

My heart goes out to you! Realize, also, that no one who hasn't gone thru this truly understands what it's like to plug thru each day while at a 6-7 level of pain. We are soooo strong! We are wonderful people! :)

2 lumbar surgeries for L4-L5-S1 cystic tumor & post-surgical CSF leak complications. (Fall of '06). Central canal stenosis, severe degnerative arthrosis, grade 1 (21% shift) spondylolisthesis @ L5-S1 area, sensory & nerve function loss & radiculopathy in r leg/foot, on-going facet pain, sacral/illiac pain, lots of epidural fibrosis @ L5/S1.

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 353
   Posted 11/4/2007 9:57 AM (GMT -6)   
I am a 24 year old female (25 in 8 days hehe) and I have worked Full-Time with CP for the last 6 or 7 years...unfortunately. (I've been unemployed since Sept but I'm working on that) I have no choice, the bills gotta get paid right? Man what I wouldn't give to be able to work just Part-Time!!! Anyway, I am not sure what type of pain you have but it sounds like back pain so I'll give you some suggestions that have helped me some.

1. I got a chair for my desk (from where the seat is one of those exercise balls. It makes you sore at first but it's a lot better for your back. Also, it had a back on it that you don't lean against, you use it to strech and came with a booklet of streching you can do with the chair right at your desk. It wasn't cheap but you might be able to find one on E-Bay or something if thats an issue.
2. I always keep a heating pad and ice pack at work, those two things can be lifesavers on bad days.
3. If you don't already have them ask your doctor about trying Lidoderm patches, they aren't like amazingly effective but they do help and can be worn for 12 hours. On days when I didn't put them on before leaving the house I would ask a good friend of mine at work to come into the bathroom and help me apply it (with tape around the edges).
4. Icy Hot & Therma Care patches - I also use these alot.

Of course I am also on a CRAPLOAD of medications. Through trial and error I have discovered which thing (or combination thereof) helps best for which pain and I use that accordingly. No matter how hard we work at it it's a constant struggle and I've lost a few jobs (and come close with others) due to excessive absences mainly b/c of pain. Good luck...hope this helped!

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

-Benjamin Franklin

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 1430
   Posted 11/10/2007 12:07 AM (GMT -6)   
I am a 36 yr old F and have Lyme Disease. I finally got the proper dx after many, many years of pain. I am fortunate enough to have a great boss that allows me to work from home. Due to my LD and meds, I cannot drive. I am far too fatigued from the Lyme Disease to stay awake for more than 4-6 hrs. I worked up until 8/30 when I had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital with chest pains. Six days later I got my positive test. I have far to many issues to be commuting and seeing clients face to face. I will also be starting IV tx next week. I was hoping to return early next year once my disease is under control, but I have adrenal damage and was just diagnosed with Addison's Disease as well which was caused by the Lyme.

Thank goodness for pain meds and looking forward to seeing if IV abx work better than orals did.

Best of luck to you,

Dx-FMS 2006, CDC positive LD 8/07, Ehrlichiosis-HME 9/07, Hypocortisolism (Addison's Disease), Cervical Cancer Survivor. Probably infected with Lyme since a teenager 20 yrs ago.
Tx-Doxy, Tahitian Noni, Cat's Claw from Sept-Nov 07
Fentanyl, Percocet, Soma, Xanax, Protonix, Melatonin.
Currently only on Diflucan and pain meds to prepare for IV

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 11/11/2007 6:40 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Nina,

Fantastic question. I'm 29 *since two days ago* and have worked in office environments with chronic pain due to invasive endometriosis for 10-12 years now. I just had 6 surgeries to fix everything and i've been out of work for 7 months, but work through the computer. I manage a surgeon's office and he watched my deterioration in the past 4 years since I joined. Before that i was a copy editor at several bigtime newspapers. Because of my age I could not find a doc for nearly 15 years who could/would diagnose my pain or prescribe painkillers, so I got pretty creative about taking care of myself. A few of my top tips:

1. Naproxen - Aleve OTC - For about two years I took between 2-6 every 3 hours. Also, you can get a prescription for 800 mg ibuprofen. you have to eat regularly and well (I vomited a lot due to my endometriosis, but I KNEW i had to keep my stomach lined).

2. Heat patches - Thermacare. you can slap those suckers on any part of your body and it's like heaven on earth when you're in pain. They truly last for 8 hours, cant be seen under business attire and fit in a small purse. They were essential.

3. Hand-deliver messages. I'm Gen Y, I believe in computers, but I found getting up to hand-deliver messages allowed my muscles to move. Also, ther are lots of 'desk' exercises. It helps, it really does.

4. Live your life on a schedule. Discipline is your friend when you have chronic pain. It gives you a feeling of some control despite the harriness of what is happening to your body.

5. If you can get prescription painkillers - use them. I used to fight my boyfriend, I hated sleeping through the weekends, it was demoralizing to feel as though my life was nothing but work and sleep, but when you have chronic pain sleep is the thing you need. In the last two years before my surgeries I devised a system: wake at 4:00 am, eat, take valium and a painkiller 30 min. apart - valium to relax my muscles, painkiller for obvious reasons. Shower and go back to sleep. Wake at 8:00 am, dress, drive to work. Repeat valium OR painkiller, occasionally both with food. Same at noon. Same at 4:00 pm. Leave work at 6:00 or 7:00 pm. I waited for the roads to clear and to metabolize the drugs a little more. Eat at home, valium and painkiller, restful evening. Eventually I moved to walking distance from work to cut down on my driving.

It was a real relief when my surgeon finally said "you can't drive any more. you are functional and i'm proud of you, but there is too much in your system to be safe." I knew it and I was relieved to have it acknowledged, but it takes time to get to a place where your life can go on hold.

6. Acupuncture - I am in awe of how much "spare" money I have now that I'm not having twice weekly acupuncture visits, sometimes 4 times a week, but they kept me alive for 5 years.

7. Breathing exercises. Working in journalism and medicine is stressful, there are ALWAYS emergencies, real or imagined (patients who launch us into STAT mode, Sept. 11th) but breathing is steadying and brings youinto yourself. I took some yoga classes until my back made it impossible, but I continued the breathwork. You can tolerate a lot as long as you are breathing, including a hateful boss.

now that i'm healing and not in pain i recognize myself again and many of my close friends and family are "meeting" the adult me for the first time. I lived in a pain and medication fog, but I built a career of which I am proud, I remained financially independent, i even started and continued a wonderful relationship with a remarkable man. It takes a lot but when all else failed I prayed "God, I don't know how to make it through the next minutes, so please HELP ME." sometimes, all i said was "Help."

I'm wishing you the best Nina, I hope some of these tips HELP - you can do it, you already are, and there is an end to the suffering.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 11/15/2007 8:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey Nina, I post on Crohns but I caught a glimpse of your post. My husband works in a huge office that just started something novel. They have cubicals and the desks come off from the wall. If someone has CP or back issues they can get a doctors note for an adjustable cubical. When they want to stand up they pull a lever and it raises their computer and desktop up so they can work standing up. When they want to sit down they push it the other way. From what I hear these desks are available for non-cubicals as well. If you work for a big company you could request (maybe under ADA) that they buy you one. If you are not comfortable doing that maybe you can save up and buy your own. Or you could just build a wooden block or something that you put your computer up on when you feel you need to work standing up. I hope this helps you some.
26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 155
   Posted 11/16/2007 9:14 AM (GMT -6)   
tongue   Well
Reading all the respones   is REFRESHING! to say the least & ahsgiven me some pointers too-  so THANKS everyone
I work a 50 hour week , and ahvnt yet found meds I can tolerate, I seem to ahve side effects from them all, that are not acceptable for quality of life.
Part of my job is desk, and administrative,  the other requires sitting also & counseling
and some standing , speaking /presenting/ teaching .
I get a lot of position change,
my biggest  obstacle,  is learning how to bend, to move, to pick up things; and to
make it thru a work week.
I am newly injured & diganosed,  so Chronic pain , is new to me as an everyday,... every hour part of my life.
I wish you the best Nina
I am sure you have found  some good  resources & answers here
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their Strength, they shall mount up on wings as eagles, they shall run & not grow weary, they shall walk & not faint..."  Ish   40 v. 31
Sjrogrens Syndrome, Asthema, Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Pain, Head aches, Migraines, Gastro Intestinal ProblesmFibro Myalgia ,Kidney Stones Esophegial Spasms,( L4 & L5 Vertebrae Misaligned,  Spinal Stenosis and Degenerative Disc Disease , Bulging Disc, anterolisthesis L4 L5 , caused by osteoarthristis ,  slipped Disc,  bone spurs, causing pinching or pressure  on spinal chord...), ~
Meds:*** NEW  Endocet,(oxycodone HCL) , Lorazepam   1 mg Cyclobenziprine, Amitripline, Celebrex 200 mg , and Robaxacet as needed Tynelo Arthritus as needed ,  vitamins  B complex, Calcium & Magnisium,  extra  Vitamin D ,  Rhodiola RX (GNC brand) ,Garlic,  Acidophilous, 


New Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 12/9/2007 9:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi All,
I completely understand what you are going through. When reading your note I had to say "Ditto". I will be 52 on the 20th, and have been diagnosed with CP for also at least 10 months. Some days I can hardly sit as well. It feel like I am coming out of my skin literaly. The people I work with just stare at
me when I do this. I am tied to a computer work station for 12 hours. I have been on all the med's so far. Meth, Lycria, Fanatyl. You name it I have probably been put on it for awhile. Oh the joys of rushing to the bathroom for the good old heeave how up we go. I am ob oxycodone and fenatyl and it helps but I am almost in tears several times each day. They tried they radio freq and that helped for about 2 weeks.

I have chron's, depression, high BP, kidney stones, and of course my DDD. It has helped me to keep a pain diary. It helps me look back at the days when I was doing better. 8-)

I am married and have just thought about seeking SSDI. I contacted a lawyer and he said I should file for it and to contact him again if/when I get denied.

My wife makes most of the money in the house. Good thing I am under her med insurance. My problem is getting up the nerve to tell her that I want to start the process of filing for SSDI. It's just a matter of time when I can't work. My memory is really bad (I need that like a hole in the head) for I work in the computer field. Actually it's in a NOC. It's like being in a windowed cage for 12 hours a day. One day I had to ask a security guard to help me find my car.
I was so embarresed. I felt so ashamed that I couldn't remember where I parked my car.

The diary helps some.

Since I am at the beginiing of the SSDI process I would appeciate any suggestions that would help me on my journey to SSDI. And telling the wife about filing for SSDI is another story altogether.


Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 12/9/2007 10:32 PM (GMT -6)   
smurf Ran_Man

Sorry to hear what you're going through. I never applied for SSDI although I found out after a slew of surgeries that I was more than eligible. Go through the process.

I had to give you a mental high five on the "not being able to remember where i parked" thing. I'm 29 (just turned) and haven't been able to find a car since I was 23. Really. I'm a wreck at airports and I because of the chronic pain and general prescription medication existance I used an altered work schedule that allowed me to be int he office alone for a few hours so I could concentrate. I also could almost always get the same parking space. Unfortunate were the days when I had to park somewhere else, I would wander our 10 story parking structure looking for my car - unsure of what it even looked like.

I wish you strength and luck and health in the future. i hope you are able to get SSDI and leave the stress of 'coping' behind so you can focus on recovery. If you have crohns then perhaps you might consider an ostomy? I'm an ostomate and it made a ton of difference in my life.


Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 172
   Posted 12/10/2007 7:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm a five year chronic pain kid and a full time worker. Sitting all day, which is what I do, kills my back. My acupuncturist gave me some topical patches called Hua Tuo Medicated Plasters that work miracles for me, possibly better than my morphine. I believe they are mostly menthol (but work better than IcyHot and the likes, and do wonders for muscle pain.

I had to shovel snow a few days ago. I thought I was going to scream afterward, but about 5 minutes after putting a patch one, I felt almost normal. Another plus is that they are really cheap (5 for 2 bucks at most). I will admit to being in a bit of remission in the last month or two, but for a couple of bucks, it seems well worth a shot. Sometimes I think a small aggravation can turn in to a tremendous ordeal, so a little help may ward off a big problem.

These patches can be found online or in an Asian holistic shop. Best of luck to you.


Dx: FMS/CMP/DDD - 2 ACFs with more to follow, scoliosis, mis-aligned pelvis
Rx: Flexeril, Ambien CR, Vicodin 5/500, Kadian 40, Prevacid, Albuterol, Lidocaine and Botox injections, acupuncture

New Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 12/11/2007 9:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks everyone for kind words and suggestions.
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