Long-term body pain and localized tenderness, as well as the many other symptoms of fibromyalgia can drastically change the lifestyle of an individual. It can affect a person’s mobility resulting in the need for a cane, walker or wheelchair. Individuals may also find that they need more periods of rest throughout the day. If sensitivity to noise, light or temperature is a present symptom, the individual may find that she has to alter her environment.
Due to fluctuations in symptom severity, an individual may find that his or her abilities vary day by day. Limitations can be categorized as not right now, not today, or never. Fibromyalgia patients should not be intimidated by the pain associated with movement, as it will in fact decrease with increases in movement. Physical and occupational therapy can help person increase strength and become more knowledgeable about his or her pain and limits.
Individuals with fibromyalgia may find that the changes necessary for symptom reduction cause a major shift in their lifestyle. For example, individuals may find that they have a new concentration on their exercise habits. Physical therapy or yoga classes may become an integral part of the individual's routine. Similarly, individuals may find themselves spending more time on their mental health, attending counseling sessions and support groups.
Fibromyalgia can reduce productivity in the workplaces, as symptoms may limit the individual’s abilities to complete tasks or be present for work. Special accommodations may be necessary for an individual with fibromyalgia to complete job tasks as assigned.
Possible workplace accommodations may include:
- Reducing job stress
- Allowing periods of rest
- Written job instructions
- Reminds or deadlines
- Flexible work schedule
- Ergonomic workspace
- Eliminations of fluorescent lighting
- Modification of dress code
- Time off for treatment and counseling
A disability is a medical condition that severely limits a person’s movement or ability to complete everyday tasks. For some individuals, fibromyalgia symptoms, such as pain and fatigue may rise to the level of impairment. These individuals are profoundly impacted by the syndrome and are unable to complete daily activities. However, individual to individual symptoms may range from mild to severe and may also vary in intensity from day to day, which can make it difficult to determine to true extent of disability.
Although some individuals are impaired to the point of being unable to work, many doctors suggest that patients with fibromyalgia avoid leaving the workforce if at all possible. Social isolation and decreased movement have been linked to the cause of depression and worsening of other symptoms in individuals with fibromyalgia.
If an individual cannot work due to the complications of this disabling condition, he or she should discuss the disability benefits with his or her physician as well as mental health support professional. Furthermore, he or she should contact the Social Security Administration to gain access to information on how to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.