Question:Last year, a heavy box fell on my neck at home. Since then I've had chronic neck pain that goes down one arm. It's really affecting my work. I may lose my job if I can't figure out a way to do what needs to be done. What do you suggest?
Answer:Neck pain can be very disabling when it interferes with daily work or activities of living. Sometimes caring for the family and household chores takes a back seat to just getting through each day at work.
In both situations (work and home), think about dividing tasks and activities into essential (must be done) and nonessential (can wait) tasks. Until your pain is under control, stop taking on any extra work in either place that is not absolutely required.
Modify your work tasks as much as possible. This may depend on the nature of your job and the degree of control you have over your job tasks. Can you break tasks down into smaller segments? It may take you longer to complete the job, but you will get it done and without exhausting yourself or setting yourself back in terms of recovery.
Can you share or alternate work tasks with others? There may be more room for negotiation than you realize in both the work and home setting.
If you live alone, this can be both easier and more difficult. On the one hand, you may be able to get the support you need to cope and complete household jobs from other family members. Or if living alone, you may be able to set aside a fair number of chores until you are further along in the recovery process.
If you have access to medical care, it may be time for a follow-up visit or check-up. Your doctor may be able to suggest appropriate medications to help with your particular situation. A physical therapist may be able to use modalities such as biofeedback or electrical stimulation to break the pain-spasm cycle and get you on the road to recovery.Jaime Guzman, MD, MSc, FRCP(C), et al. A New Conceptual Model of Neck Pain. In Spine. Supplement to February 15, 2008. Vol. 33. No. 4S. Pp. S14-S23.
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