Coping With Fibromyalgia In The Workplace
Most people find that coping with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia has an impact on every area of their lives. Even the seemingly simple tasks like going to work can become complicated. 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. A recent study showed that persistent, chronic pain has risen dramatically amongst full time workers in the US. Despite this rise, little is known by employers about fibromyalgia and employees with chronic pain need to be their own advocates in the workplace.
Who Can Help You At Work?
Your doctor - ask your doctor to answer all your questions about fibromyalgia. Be fully informed about your symptoms and what to prepare for in the future. This will help you set realistic expectations within your working environment.
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.
Returning To Work
Fibromyalgia sufferers may have spent a lot of time away from work prior to or after their diagnosis. The chronic pain of the condition often makes working in a daily routine difficult, particularly in jobs that are physically demanding. With help from their doctors, it is hoped that a return to work is possible. However, having an unsupportive employer, a job with heavy physical demands, shift work and low self esteem can all affect the outcome of a successful return to work. All return to work programs need to be calculated to fit the individual. Workers need to be clear about their employer's expectations and should ask for regular reviews.
Tips For Working With Fibromyalgia
Every fibromyalgia sufferer has to find the right division between their work and private life. The balance between health and career is a very difficult one. The following tips can help to maximize this balance.
- Take your medications with care and regularly to maximize their impact.
- Know your limitations and say no when you know you will regret it later if you don't.
- Ask if you can work from home, even if just occasionally.
- Use your sick leave if you need it.
- Take regular breaks, stretch and walk around.
- Make sure your chair and work stations are comfortable.