Hi, I'm just wondering if there's any help for people like myself, who have been diagnosed with RA and are working full time in a physical

Fast paced job?

I'm 37 and work as a waitress/ supervisor in a restaurant.

I struggle every day ( some shifts are better than others)

I often have 1am finishes which means that I can't get out of bed until I have to get ready for work again.

There are certain jobs in work that I just can't do anymore and although my colleagues try to be understanding , I feel that because I don't look I'll most of the time, they think I'm milking it. Therefore I end up taking too much on.

I kind of feel that I know you need to be fast and efficient in an environment like that and if I can't do the job quickly and efficiently, then that means that I can't do the job :(

Subsequently my hands are nearly always swollen and I'm limping by the end of the night.

I also get days off for appointments but if I cut my hours down, I only get paid for the hours I do.

Is anyone else caught in a similar trap, if so what to do?


13 Replies

Poor you, it sounds like you are having a really stressful time.

I hope your manager knows that you have RA. As you have a disability, you are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act, which entitles you to what are known as "reasonable adjustments" at work.

When I was faced with this situation, I went to talk to the Disability Employment Advisor at the Job Centre. He/she will help you to claim any entitlements, workplace support, equipment, etc.

Please get as much advice as you can, there is a lot of help available out there.


Hi phoebe,

Yes they all know I have it as I was tired and hurting for a long time before being diagnosed.

The problem is, they're such a small company and I fear they can't do very much.

Thanks for the info though. I'll have to go and see someone at the job centre.



Hello, I understand just how you feel! I work full-time also and whilst my job may not be physical demanding like yours it's still demanding. Please don't be hard on yourself a lot of "fit" people couldn't do your job, my daughters work PT in a restaurant and they both come home aching!! But like Phoebe says you are protected by Employment Law, my Employer is ok and I do get some understanding to a point but have to fight my corner. I don't know if you have a union rep but if not the ACAS helpline is extremely helpful for help and advice. Like you say we look " normal". even when the pain is raging, we are swollen and limping across the floor!! Good luck x



Thank you so much for the help and support.

I'm going to have a lot to look into :)


I'm sorry to be downbeat on this, but I think you need to be realistic. The fact that you have posted suggests you have already come to this conclusion yourself, but hope that it isn't true and someone will come up with another solution.

You need to start thinking about how you can transfer your skills to another, less demanding physically, job.

List all your skills and then look around for other jobs that fit those skills.

Do you need to do some training to increase those skills to widen your options?

Talk to the job centre staff about your options.

I can remember going through this process myself a few years after being diagnosed when I finally came to the realisation that I couldn't go on pushing my body like that. With a change in the type of job (well, several changes actually) I did I was able to continue until the age of 65 and retire with a better pension than just a state pension. I can't say it was easy and occasionally I had real problems with other people who could not understand why I could not do certain things ( the "you look well" problem!) but it was well worth changing track.

I'll wish you the best of luck in finding something more suitable for your long-term illness.

1 like

I agree with this some comment to a certain extent but I feel that this is a decision that Cherlisa needs to make on her own, Cherlisa you say that you're a Supervisor so you've worked you way up to a responsible role but I agree with Oldtimer that you do have to look at your options, get some help and advice and talk to your Employer as new jobs are not that easy to get at the moment, you might not want to give it up? Also you may be entitled to some disability benefit if you decided to reduce your hours.....think it's called PIP now? When I went for my last Rheumy appt the guy who went in before me was a Window Cleaner and was still working but we are all different and it's your choice! Good luck with everything :) xxx


I guess I'm frightened that keeping pushing myself now will cause worse problems later.

Thank you very much.


Hi, I've been diagnosed about 2 months now and after having 6 weeks off for the summer am wondering how I'm going to cope with working with young children as my RA has decided to make an appearance in my lower back. Like you I want to work but worry about the damage it will cause being over active and pushing things to the limit. I found the practice nurse at my GPS very supportive where rhumy nurse just said it will be interesting with me starting back. I'm thinking about retraining but can't decide what would be best to retrain in as have spent years training in special needs. I hope the answers on here that people have given will help you. I know I will now be contacting local job centre thanx to advice you've been given. It helps to know there are others that understand x


Hi ajd376,

I definitely feel for you.

It's so hard not to be ratty when you're in pain.

I've worked late nights in hospitality all my working life, I wouldn't even begin to know what to train in!

I appreciate all the info and advice from all the posters above and wish you all the best with just trying to make it through the school year :)


Hi. I feel real sorry for you too. I myself was in full time employment too, In a physical job, but sadly I had to admit defeat, I'm just going through the process of ill Heath retirement, I have struggled for the best part of four years with it, but my body had just had enough, listen to what your body is telling you. I have other conditions that have contributed to me finishing it isn't all RA. Hope you get sorted soon. x



Thanks for the support.

I'm trying to be realistic in terms of the fact that I'm only 37,

That means that I'm still a long way from retirement and I don't want to just give up.

Plus, I've only been diagnosed in march so on a good day I feel pretty able. (Not every day)

Also, my rhuematoid nurse and gp haven't mentioned cutting down my hours.

They seem very pro work.

That makes me wonder if I would be doing more damage by not working....


Hi Cherilsa, I'm 49, my family keep their eye on me and it was their input and my body telling me enoughs enough that I finally called a day to where I worked. I had a occupational Heath worker (from the hospital) come to see me when I was at work and she recommended that I find something else to do because the sort of work I was doing was harming my body more than helping it. My family and i knew that work wasn't doing me any good and it was making my condition worse. My GP tells me just to keep my body ticking over now, which I do. It's a big thing that your going through as I know, it's altered our lives and in some ways ruined it too, our dreams were blown out of the water when I got diagnosed 5 years ago. Don't be a prisoner to RA but you have to learn to live with it, some days you win some days it wins, I hope you come to a decision that you are at home with. Good luck for the future Paul. x



That's deep.

I can relate to all of that.

I know I'm pretty much at the start of my journey.

I don't know what I'm going to do.

Thank you and good luck to you.


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