Working despite chronic pain

Occupational activity is not just a necessary evil for many people to secure their own existence. Going to work also means being in the midst of life, self-affirmation through success, a well-regulated routine and joy through social contacts.

Existence-threatening illness

A pain disorder can suddenly resolve this safe existence. Rheumatism, osteoarthritis or cancer can also affect younger people and interrupt the familiar everyday life abruptly. A disease that is associated with permanent, severe pain therefore often threatens the existence. However, many diseases today are treatable so far that a return to working life is possible. "This is not just important for material reasons, " explains Dr. med. Wolfgang Sohn, pain therapist from Schwalmtal. "The psyche and the sense of pain can also benefit from the workday".

Researchers at the University of Leipzig were able to show that working people complain less about pain than groups of people who did not work. 1 "However, working with people who suffer from pain is also a challenge that they should not face unprepared, " says Sohn.

4 tips for getting back into the job

Patients should be aware of the following four points in order to be successful in entering the profession:

  1. Chronic pain requires continuous treatment by the doctor. Make sure that all necessary appointments can be performed. Frequently, the treatment requires the long-term use of highly effective painkillers. Especially good to handle are then drugs that need to be taken only once a day. There is now a tablet that releases the analgesic evenly over 24 hours. Ask your doctor as well.
  2. Occasionally, you may need help. It is not always easy to ask for help. And to accept help, too, must be learned. It is therefore advisable to inform the employer and colleagues in advance, so that everyone can adapt to the situation.
  3. The workplace should be set up according to your needs. If you suffer from musculoskeletal disorders, pay particular attention to ergonomic office furniture and work equipment.
  4. For people with disabilities, there are various company funding opportunities through the employment and integration offices as well as through the rehab institutions and professional associations. The integration office grants cost subsidies for the disability-oriented design of the workplace.


1) J. Schumacher, E. Brähler: Prevalence of pain in the German population. Results of representative surveys with the Gießen complaint sheet. Pain 13 (1999): 375-384.

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