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What is the best approach with working and rheumatoid arthritis?

I was diagnosed in rheumatoid arthritis in January after suffering for over a year with no answers. Working as a cashier in a bank I am finding tasks difficult. I don't want to let my team down by having days off when I flare up (most often when I'm switching meds) but I also know I don't want to make anything worse.I'm lucky, my bosses are trying to help, but don't really understand when I suffer with a flare up, despite explaining numerous times and just seem to think I'm just off again. I'm only 20 and don't really know hows best to deal with it all!

10 Replies

Hello tamtam,

I'm assuming a bank would have a Human Resources dept? the HR at my work were very helpful, first sending me to a Occupational Health Doctor who spent over an hour discussing any difficulties I was having then put a report to them outlining any requirements needed to make things easier for me. (although my Line manager chooses to ignore it!)

Also, do you have a Occupation Health nurse yet? my nurse came into work and did an assessment; again with recommendations and advice. During her visit she also spoke with someone from my HR dept and explained about RA.

NRAS have a fantastic booklet called 'I want to work' (I think thats what its called) and if you ring then they will hopefully send you this out. They also sent me a book for my employer - very helpful as it explains the difficulties we face. (again my line manager ignores this!!)

Also, this is still early days for you and once the meds work for you then hopefully flare ups will be not be so much a problem, I haven't had a proper full blown flare up in over a year (but my RA has gone into remission with medications) and there is every chance you'll recover just as well :)

If I were you, I ring the NRAS helpline, they sent me out so much information even before I joined that I have found invaluable.

Hope this helps, good luck!


hello wiliby just red your comment on tamtam's feed. is it true i can get a rhumy nurse to go into my work and talk to them how i will feel on a day to day basis


Hi jaqi,

It was my Occupational health nurse, have you got one? if not you should ask about seeing one.

My OH nurse has been fantastic, even to the point of sending my HR dept the odd e-mail asking about my progress and offering to come to meetings with me.

On her visit she did explain the impact that RA has on me, which was great as at that time I was too tearful to do it myself!

I think part of the OH nurse role is to assist us not only around the home but at work to?

I hope you get some support :)


Hi Tamtam - I'm self employed so have no advice for you. I just wanted to welcome you here and say that I think Williby's advice will be very sound so please take it and contact the HR at your work place and also phone the NRAS helpline. You should be met with understanding and support - especially so young and being in pain while waiting for the meds to work. My flare ups have often been when I'm on a new drug or change of medication/ change of dose too - interesting that? Take care and keep coming here - let us know how you get on. Tilda xx


Sorry to hear you atre going thru this at such a young age. I agree with the above having been thru similar experience( altho' in th end had to retire on the grounds of ill health)

I found Occ health quite good but also got alot of help frpom my union who were really up- to date and supportive about rights under what was then Dis . Dicrim. Act. Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to support disabled employees (RA counts in this as a chronic condition). I was given an assessment by access to work and supplied with computer equipment , special chair etc . However n)0ne of this got round pain and fatigue. I found it best to be absolutely honest with evrybopdy about my problems altho' this was difficult when people didn't get it and I worked in a very presssurised job ( social worker children and families) often needed to work late and unplanned..

I thjink it is a process of wporking out what helps or hinders in managing your syptoms and getting as much support as possible from people who know their stuff and whom you can trust . When things got more difficult for me i used to take my union rep into meetings .

Also helped me tpo keep a diary to work out what was going on .

As mentioned above, you are recently diagnosed and there are lots of treatment options around now . Good luck and LOOK AFTER YORSELF!


Hi, your employers have an obligation under the Equality Act to make sure your work area is safe for you and to provide any equipment you might need to enable you to do your job. e.g. a foot rest, adjustable chair etc. I would imagine your HR dept would be on the ball about this, if not your Union will have someone who can help. Don't be afraid to ask for what will help you. NRAS have some very helpful booklets about working with RA and one for employers which tells them all about RA and how it affects you.

You don't say what treatments you are on but the standard is methotrexate + some other drugs. These should help in the long term with reducing symptoms but MTX can take up to 12 weeks before you feel the benefits. If in real pain which is bothering you and not responding, your GP can arrange for a steroid injection to calm everything down.

Hot and cold packs on affected joints can help as well. Get plenty of rest, try not to overdo things and accept you won't be as active as you once were. there will be times when you feel nothing is wrong and you can forge ahead with whatever you plan but equally there will be times when you can't and rest is what you need then.

Good luck. There is plenty of help, support and advice on this site. LavendarLady x


I assume you use a computer and also your fine motor skills counting all that money!no wonder your aching.I use a computer for about 10 mins a day and its awful.There is funding available for people who are having difficulty at work your O.T will be able to give you the number.I am being assessed for an ergonomic?MOUSE and a soft touch keyboard that is compatible with a laptop as small keyboards on laptops are not good for us, hope this helps.x


be honest with them, and seek advice from local job centre, some one l knew did, and they help him alot even at one stage cutting his hours down without losin money!! but most of be honest, it'd be easy to say thats it lm give up, if your workmates/boses see your fighting this, lm sure they;ll repect you for that the fact your will to work thru pain where others woulkd just give up n take the easy life


good officer play a good role for subordinates and company


Heya, I understand wear you are coming from. Im 22 now, but I can hardly sit down for long times, sitting down at uni is a killer. Give me a private message if you chat or ask anything.


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