Fibromyalgia and Stress
The significant connections between fibromyalgia and stress have been well established. While the exact relationship is not fully understood, the research has made it very clear that stress influences fibromyalgia in a number of different ways. However, when fibromyalgia patients learn to relax and manage stress they can expect to see immediate and long-lasting benefits.
Stress and Fibromyalgia Susceptibility
Researchers believe that stress can play a key role in patients’ susceptibility to fibromyalgia. In fact, many fibromyalgia patients have a history of chronic stress. Additionally, a high number of fibromyalgia patients are traditionally young women who have “Type A” personalities and who lead ambitious, busy, stressful lives. Men with fibromyalgia often have worked in jobs that have resulted in physical job-related stress.
Work and Disability
Many people with the condition of fibromyalgia continue to work full time or part time. However, the chronic, debilitating stress, pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia can often make working very difficult. If you are employed, it is important to learn about presently managing fibromyalgia symptoms and coping with the pain and fatigue. In addition, if you have tried different jobs and are unable to work, you might consider applying for disability benefits. However, you should keep in mind that, disability benefit may be difficult to get because of the strict rules laid out about work capacity.
Can People With Fibromyalgia Work?
By self-managing chronic fibromyalgia pain and controlling daily stress, most people with fibromyalgia can do almost anything they choose to do. 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 condition with your boss and coworkers. Talk about the constant 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. Also, you should ask if you can take work home if you are feeling fatigued. Additionally, ask if you can come in on Saturday if you miss a day of work to make up the lost time and income. Furthermore, 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 better on the job.
Are There Workplace Modification Guidelines for People With Fibromyalgia?
People with fibromyalgia can use the modification 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 the condition of fibromyalgia.
The Role of Stress in the Onset of Fibromyalgia
Some researchers believe that the onset of fibromyalgia is triggered by an extremely stressful or traumatic experience. While this stress may be associated with physical trauma, such as an auto accident, it also may be associated with psychological stress, such as emotional or physical abuse. Most scientists believe that stress is not the primary cause of fibromyalgia. However, there is evidence to suggest that both chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder may be significant factors in the onset of fibromyalgia.
How Stress Can Aggravate Fibromyalgia
For fibromyalgia patients, stress can also make the condition worse and can trigger particular physical symptoms. People who suffer from fibromyalgia often have trouble knowing their personal limitations, which can make it hard for them to know when they are in danger of overexerting themselves. When fibromyalgia patients physically overexert themselves, this can often lead to increased stress, which results in increased pain.
Ways to Relieve Stress
A fibromyalgia patient’s level of stress can directly influence their ability to deal with pain and other symptoms of the condition. In general, the more relaxed a patient becomes, the better they will be able to deal with the physical discomfort of fibromyalgia. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, you can relieve stress and relax through exercise, relaxation techniques, taking a warm bath, getting a good night’s sleep, and limiting your stress level by obtaining balance in your life.