Managing Pain at Work

Set-up your work-space

Talk to your boss and get an assessment of your desk area. The assessment can point out ways to make you more comfortable and minimise pain. For example, you may benefit from an adaptable office chair, wrist cushions, footrests, keyboard trays etc. Your employer can use the Display screen equipment (DSE) workstation checklist, to help with the assessment.

Set Priorities

Know your limits. Don’t push yourself in ways that will cause a setback in your pain management efforts. Say no when you need to.

Take Breaks

Use regular breaks as a way to bring your pain management practices into the workplace. If you work at a desk, get up and move around every 15 minutes or so. You can get apps for your smartphone that will remind you to get up from your desk at regular intervals. Here are some examples:

  • Stand Up! – A similar app that can be customised to your work schedule.
  • Office Exercise & Stretch – Just pick a stretch or exercise, set a reminder (e.g., Monday and Tuesday at 2pm), and you are done. Your phone will remind you to get up and move.
Adopt Healthy Habits

At work and at home, you can help manage your pain by eating well and keeping active. Some workplaces offer health and well-being programmes. These can be a valuable source of information about healthy living. Speak to your HR Department.

Be Prepared
If you work full time you spend as much time at your office as you do at home. Treat your workplace like your home. Make yourself comfortable and be prepared for flare-ups. For example, if cold temperatures are a trigger for you keep a jumper or cardigan on hand. If they help you, keep a heating pad/ice pack nearby. Don’t forget to have your medication on hand just in case.

Resources to manage pain well

This page contains lists of useful books, online content and other resources that can help you manage pain well. Bookmark this page and check back for updates.


Chronic pain affects almost one in four people across Northern Ireland. Local Health and Social Care Board figures estimate that 400,000 people are living with some form of persistent pain.