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Jobs/Disability

Question:

Does my work life have to change with my fibromyalgia diagnosis?

Expert:   Kenya Beard , ACNP-BC, Hunter College »

You shouldn't have to give up your day job if you have fibromyalgia. See what you can do to make the workday less painful.

Transcript: You shouldn’t have to give up your day job if you have fibromyalgia. In many cases, some small changes can help both your productivity AND your comfort level. An occupational therapist can help you find ways to ease pain while doing your daily work activities. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, fibromyalgia patients can benefit from using specialized chairs, anti-glare screens on computers or wearing a headset while talking on the phone — all of which are inexpensive and easy to put in place at work. Fibromyalgia IS classified as a disability, once you are diagnosed, meaning that according to The Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations so you can keep doing your job. But some adjustments you need to make may be major, such as cutting back hours or switching to a lower-stress job, and avoiding work that involves heavy lifting or sitting in uncomfortable desk chairs. Experts recommend finding a job that allows you to take regular breaks and does not worsen your symptoms or put you under constant pressure. Jobs that offer flexible schedules or that permit working from home, such as those in sales or those that are Internet based, may also be well-suited for patients with fibromyalgia. Additionally, fibromyalgia symptoms often improve during the middle of the day — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — so working mid-day might be best. If you can, avoid heavy outdoor labor or jobs in a noisy work environment, as these can aggravate stress levels or expose you to weather changes that can increase symptoms. STOPPING work altogether could have its drawbacks. Experts have found that if patients QUIT working, they move less, lose contact with colleagues, and lose a part of their identity, all of which could make them feel more alone and depressed, leading to more severe symptoms. Do your best to work with your employer to find solutions that work for you both. More »

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