Fibromyalgia is a debilitating medical condition that can cause disruption to daily life and significantly affect a patient’s ability to work. There is no cure for this condition, and although medical experts have not identified a clear cause, current research suggests nerve stimulation that can contribute to an abnormal rise in the brain of chemicals that signal pain. Some individuals are susceptible to this change in brain chemistry due to:
- Genetics, as fibromyalgia tends to run in families
- Infections that can trigger the condition
- Physical or emotional events, such as a car accident or prolonged psychological stress
Women between the ages of 26 and 60 are far more likely to develop fibromyalgia than men, and patients who have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus are more likely to develop the disease.
Symptoms and treatments
The symptoms include dull aches, numbness or joint pain that can last of three months or longer, chronic fatigue, anxiety or depression and cognitive difficulties. The pain and fatigue can be so severe that simple tasks are challenging, and patients have difficulty functioning, moving or even thinking due to brain fog.
Fibromyalgia is generally diagnosed based on a detailed description of symptoms, although a blood test is sometimes used to rule out other possible conditions. Medications can ease the symptoms, as can exercise and attention to diet.
Work and fibromyalgia
Although the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be debilitating, a flexible work environment can help accommodate people with the condition. Because concentration and chronic fatigue can make work difficult for people with fibromyalgia, modifications such as minimizing distractions, allowing frequent breaks and flexible work hours can help them manage the condition.
Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not list specific conditions that qualify for disability, it does offer a general definition of disability that may prevent an individual from being able to work. Those individuals with severe symptoms can qualify for disability benefits.
In order to qualify for a Social Security disability that is caused by fibromyalgia, it is vitally important to have detailed documentation from the patient’s doctors, as well as the specific symptoms that prevent them from being able to function in their work capacity.
Although applicants for SSDI benefits are often denied initially, they may appeal the decision. For San Diego residents, it can be to your advantage to have a knowledgeable SSDI attorney who has experience in the administrative process if this happens.