Table of Contents
- Job Requirements for People with Back Pain
- Ideal Jobs for People Suffering from Back Pain
- Qualifying as a Disability
- Keep a Positive Attitude
Many people with chronic back pain want to return to work or must continue working to pay their bills. They need to find jobs that are easy on the back because working with chronic pain is very stressful. Thanks to technology, there has never been a better time to find jobs that provide the flexibility that people with back pain need in terms of hours and physical requirements.
Job Requirements for People with Back Pain
People with back pain are often limited in the type of activities they can manage while minimizing the pain. Some of the job requirements they need to avoid as much as possible include:
- Sitting for long periods without a break
- Standing for hours at a time without a break
- Repetitive movements
- Activities requiring twisting the spine
- Heavy lifting or moving heavy objects
- Activities that require a lot of bending and reaching
- Regularly carrying a heavy object like a briefcase or computer satchel
It may sound like this eliminates most jobs, but there are many options for people with chronic back pain.
Ideal Jobs for People Suffering from Back Pain
People experience back pain for many reasons. The top causes of chronic back pain include poor physical condition, disease, aging and injury. The best jobs for people with back pain are those that do not put force on the back and give the person opportunities to move around throughout the workday. The best employers are those who provide accommodations as much as possible.
Ten best jobs for people with chronic pain
1. Content writer
Many companies need good writers who can develop content for their blogs, websites, social media accounts and newsletters. Content writers can often work from home for all or part of their schedule.
2. Office job
An office job usually requires a lot of sitting, but as long as regular stretching breaks are allowed, this type of job is quite manageable for many people. It helps to have an ergonomic chair and standing desk, and it is important to work for an employer who understands the special needs of someone experiencing chronic back pain.
3. Customer service representative
These types of positions do not require any heavy lifting. The employee can sit at a desk and answer customer calls, frequently standing and stretching while listening to the customer. Many service representatives work from home too. Either way, ergonomic chairs, regular stretching, periodic walking around and proper posture will minimize back pain.
4. Tech worker
This is a broad category that includes software engineers, project managers, network developers and website developers, to name a few. These are not physically strenuous jobs, and many modern tech companies are more than willing to provide accommodations for qualified, skilled workers in a tight job market.
Accountants are required to do a lot of computer and desk work. This is an excellent career choice for people with back pain because they have plenty of opportunities to stand up, walk around the office, and stretch. There is no strenuous activity required.
6. Sales representative
Some sales jobs offer a nice mix of sitting at a desk while contacting potential or existing customers and moving around in order to visit customer locations. A lot depends on the job structure as to whether it is one of the best jobs for people with back problems.
This is a large category because it includes a variety of opportunities, ranging from running a business to selling as an independent contractor to working as a contractor offering services like app development, tax return preparation, programming, accounting services, marketing services, copywriting, billing, medical or legal transcriptions and so much more.
8. Home school teacher
Teaching a group of older homeschooled students is not physically demanding. It offers a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling and the teacher works with the school district to include the children in extracurricular activities. The home school teacher does not have to be a sports coach, participate in vigorous school club activities or manage a large class of young children.
9. Work for a nonprofit
Nonprofits are organizations that understand the challenges of groups of people who fit their advocacy goals. These organizations are usually not as strict as for-profit businesses about work schedules and work demands. For example, work for an organization that advocates for people who have arthritis or a particular disease that causes chronic back pain.
10. Researcher or analyst
This is the age of data collection and analysis. There are many opportunities to do market research, administer customer surveys, collect social media data, do trend analysis, develop algorithms for Artificial Intelligence and machine learning systems and so on.
Many of the jobs mentioned make this look like a list of sit down jobs. Generally, good jobs for lower back pain do not require prolonged periods of sitting without opportunities to take regular breaks. They also do not require any heaving lifting or frequent bending.
Qualifying as a Disability
People who have chronic neck or back pain, or suffered a back injury and will not fully recover, may be qualified to claim disability under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Physical impairment must substantially limit activities. In those cases, the employee can request a reasonable workplace accommodation for back pain.
Even if the back pain does not qualify for an ADA disability, most employers will make reasonable accommodations for their employees. Accommodation can take many forms:
- Job restructuring to remove activities that stress the back
- Job change in which the employee assumes a different role
- Remote work schedule, enabling the employee to work at home
- Flexible work schedule to minimize periods of sitting or standing
- Providing assistive devices, like desks that can be raised to bring computers to eye level while standing or voice-to-text software to minimize sitting and keyboarding time
Some people choose to make a career change after back injury. This is usually when reasonable accommodations are not possible, or the individual cannot manage the current job because of the pain. A change in careers after a back injury is common.
For example, a factory worker may look for an office job or a construction site inspector may move into a position requiring mostly computer input. Sometimes it is possible to transfer to a job within the same industry, but often it is necessary to transfer into an entirely different industry. It is important to keep all options open.
Keep a Positive Attitude
People experiencing back problems often feel like they must silently deal with their condition. It is better to discuss the condition with Human Resources and request accommodation or to find a new career if the current one has requirements that put too much stress on the back.
The one thing to avoid is continuing to try to do a job that aggravates a back condition or causes back muscle fatigue, spine tension or more pain. It is imperative to take control of the situation. Do exercises to strengthen back muscles, ask coworkers for help with lifting heavy objects, take frequent breaks from sitting and utilize other steps to make work manageable.
If a career change after a back injury is necessary, keep a positive attitude. There are many good jobs for people with back problems. It may take some searching, but persistence will pay off.