Many people with fibromyalgia continue to work full
or part time. But the chronic pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia often make working
very difficult. If you are employed, it's important to learn about managing
fibromyalgia symptoms and coping
with pain and fatigue. In addition, if you have tried different jobs and
are unable to work, you might consider applying for disability. Disability may
be difficult to get because of rules about work capacity.
Assess Your Symptoms: Take the WebMD Fibromyalgia Health Check
Can People With Fibromyalgia Work?
By self-managing fibromyalgia pain and controlling daily stress, most people with
fibromyalgia can do almost anything they choose. Unless you have physical pain
that's directly work related, you should be able to make simple modifications
to your workplace that allow you to continue working.
What Type of Workplace Changes Can Help Someone With Fibromyalgia?
First, openly discuss your fibromyalgia with your boss and coworkers. Talk
about the symptoms of pain, fatigue, and stiffness. Explain how you may have
good days and bad days.
Explaining fibromyalgia will give people at work a better idea of what you
are feeling each day. Ask your boss if you can take rest periods on bad days.
Or ask if you can take work home if you are feeling fatigued. Ask if you can
come in on Saturday if you miss a day of work to make up the lost time and
income. In addition, ask if you can put a cot in your office for a brief nap at
lunchtime. Taking a midday nap helps many people with fibromyalgia and other
chronic health conditions function on the job.
Are There Workplace Modification Guidelines for People With Fibromyalgia?
People with fibromyalgia can use the following lists when talking with their
employer about making modifications. The lists come from the U.S. Department of
Labor's Job Accommodation Network. They contain recommendations for
accommodations employers should be willing to consider for employees with
To address concentration issues, employers should consider:
providing written job instructions when possible
prioritizing job assignments and providing more structure
allowing flexible work hours and allowing a self-paced workload
allowing periodic rest periods to reorient
providing memory aids, such as schedulers or organizers
reducing job stress
To address depression and anxiety, employers should consider:
reducing distractions in the work environment
providing to-do lists and written instructions
reminding the employee of important deadlines and meetings
allowing time off for counseling
providing clear expectations of responsibilities and consequences