I have seen a lady who works 8 hours per week split between two days in a call centre. She suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis predominently in her lower back and legs along with sciatica and C3+4 disc prolapse. She has a decent chair with pump up lumbar support, seat slide etc etc and has it set up pretty well, however, she is just not comfortable. She sits back in her chair but at the same time leans over to her left side and rests on the arm rest. Whilst the chair height is appropriate, she would like to be higher and feels she wants more support around her hips and thighs. I’m struggling to know what to suggest; I think mainly because she found it difficult to put into words what the problems were and what she was trying to achieve in terms of workstation set up. Has anyone dealt with someone with a similar concerns and issues who can offer some words of wisdom?!!
But, without knowing more about her specific condition, task and work tools, I can’t suggest anything concrete. Would she be able to work while standing? Perhaps she would benefit from frequent postural changes (e.g., sit sometimes, stand others)?
Some people with Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) find they are more comfortable with less hip flexion, more hip extension, for example the backrest could be reclined a bit more for her. This may not be ideal for typing since it will put her farther away from her keyboard, but it’s worth a try to readjust everything to be closer. She may also find it more comfortable for her seat to be adjusted a little bit higher to allow less hip flexion. I have worked with some folks with RA who are most comfortable in a very high seat like a bar stool, or drafting stool, where they are half sitting/standing. This then requires a higher desk or work surface and other modifications to bring items close and accessible. Ideally, she should be changing her position frequently (every 30 minutes), take frequent breaks, watch the temperature (cold temps can exacerbate the pain from arthritis) and be followed regularly by her doctor. Many with RA have trouble being comfortable with any position so the goal should be to find some combination of postures that she can tolerate and rotate through them during the day.
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