Tips to Manage Fibromyalgia at Work

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Most people with fibromyalgia can do almost anything they choose while managing and controlling daily stress and coping with pain. 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.

When you have fibromyalgia sitting at a desk, standing at a register or performing other physical and mental requirements of a job is not always possible and that’s totally okay. For those who are able to work while living with fibromyalgia, getting through a work day filled with brain fog, pain and fatigue can feel like a monumental task. Let’s face it the long days and fast pace of today’s workforce aren’t exactly suited to those of us suffering from chronic pain. For millions of people suffering from fibromyalgia, work is an on-going struggle.

Every work environment or career presents its own challenges to those suffering from fibromyalgia but regardless of your job there are steps you can take to help make the best of your situation and lessen the negative impact. Fibromyalgia patients are less productive at work than normal adults.

Those females who undergo repeated attacks of fibromyalgia pain are 10 times less liable to continue work-related responsibilities. Post-hospitalization continuation of work is 4 times less in fibromyalgia females than normal healthy women. Unfortunately, besides affecting the capacity of individuals to work, fibromyalgia increase the healthcare cost significantly.

According to estimates, fibromyalgia patients spend additional $5945 per year in direct and indirect medical cost to manage the symptoms. There are many people who suffer from the condition known as Fibromyalgia but do not suffer from it on a chronic level, meaning that they can function in as normal a fashion as an individual who was not suffering from it.

An individual suffering with either mild or moderate Fibromyalgia may experience what are referred to as ‘flare ups’ but should be able to continue working and carrying out normal day to day tasks without too much difficulty; they will also be receiving some sort of pain medication from their doctor in order to help combat some of the overlapping conditions associated with Fibromyalgia.

Most sufferers with fibromyalgia continue to work after their diagnosis but find that they need to make big changes to their usual work practice. These changes can occur on both an emotional and physical level. Health department, find out if your company has a health department or a representative that you can talk to. They should have experience in these issues and will advise you about your rights.

Human resources, many workers with chronic pain need their employers to accommodate some changes. These can include taking breaks, altering the work schedule or taking sick leave for appointments. These issues should be discussed with someone from human resources.

Tips to manage fibromyalgia flare up at work

One of the first things you can do is talk to a boss or supervisor about your fibromyalgia and explains what the condition is, what symptoms you’ve experienced and how they might affect you in the workplace. The purpose of speaking with a boss or supervisor is two-fold.

First, doing so can help eliminate false perceptions about your performance. Second, it provides you with an opportunity to discuss what steps both you and your employer can take to minimize the effect of your condition on your job and maximize your potential.

Related: How to perform Daily activities with Fibromyalgia and CFS

Switch your job or career if your work requires a lot of physical labor or mental exertion. This is mainly because, trying to continue a job that requires strenuous mental and physical capacity can worsen the symptoms of brain fogging and intellectual decline besides deteriorating the intensity of pain attacks. Take a look at companies offering remote jobs for people with chronic illness Here

Fibromyalgia patients have inadequate amount of energy and a hazy mind with forgets things easily. A routine reduces the amount of energy spent thinking about what to do next – you can do some things on auto-pilot. Schedule in short rest breaks, perhaps after meetings, or every hour. A lunch break with a short walk or even just simple stretches in the workplace bathroom can help reduce pain, clear a foggy mind and increase productivity, not just for fibromites!

Don’t make the routine too rigid; there will be days with lower energy levels, or unplanned tasks and meetings to attend to. Whether its small changes to your personal space or special considerations given for your situation, workplace modifications can help make your fibromyalgia more manageable at work.

A few small changes you can make to your personal space might include requesting lumbar support for your chair if you sit for long periods of time, a headset if you’re on the phone frequently or a standing desk (with chair) to allow you to alternate between sitting and standing. Click Here to Read If you are suffering with fibro or CFS, make sure you have these things in Home

If you think your current job responsibilities are becoming difficult for you to manage, take the decision to let go of the current job to explore more feasible options. You can acquire education or a different skill-set to still maintain your productivity without compromising your health.

Avoid jobs that require long hours of standing. If mandatory, you can utilize specialized ergonomic mats that act as shock absorbents or heavy-padded seats to prevent backache. Having a reusable heating pad (i.e. rice or gel pad) can be a lifesaver on bad days.

Applying the pad to sore areas can bring much needed relief and help get you through those days when the pain flares up. As work is often a financial necessity for the majority of fibromyalgia patients, finding ways to make your work life more manageable is important for both your physical and emotional well being.

Whether you employ the tactics above or come up with tactics of your own, start today by making a plan to improve your work environment and better suit it to your needs.


  • Fibromyalgia: Work and Disability via Web Md
  • Manage Fibromyalgia at Work by Kymberly Fergusson via Heal Dove

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