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6 Helpful Tips for Working with Fibromyalgia

6 Helpful Tips for Working with Fibromyalgia

For a person living with fibromyalgia, it can be hard to try and live a normal life filled with work and fun.

The illness of fibromyalgia can bring about different symptoms such as fatigue, crippling pain, chronic headaches and body aches.

With these symptoms, it’s understandable that a person who suffers from fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) might be forced to stay in bed or in their home for most of the day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fibromyalgia patients take approximately 3 times more sick days per year than individuals with no fibromyalgia (17 days versus 6 days in normal adults).

In today’s post, we will be discussing 6 different tips, methods and suggestions for those who suffer from FMS, and how they can attempt to manage their fibromyalgia and work life together.

If you’ve developed FMS while at your current position, it’s better to be open and honest with your boss or superiors about your illness.

It might seem like you are divulging personal business to them, but it’s important that they know about your new diagnosis.

This is to ensure that they can help and provide any assistance you need to make it through the work day, keep the same routine or still accomplish the tasks your job requires.

By explaining your FMS to your boss, you can be more open about the symptoms you’re feeling during the day.

Keeping an open conversation with them will allow you to discuss how your feeling, and realize when you might be doing more harm at work by staying while ill.

There are some guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network.

They discuss accommodations that an employer should provide for an employee with FMS.

These guidelines include suggestions such as; allowing flexible work hours, allowing periodic rests, providing minimal distractions, and providing memory aids.

Pay Attention to How You Dress

Many people who suffer from FMS are very sensitive to hot or cold temperatures. Any quick spike in temperature can flare up any aches or chronic pain that they feel.

How can you prepare for this at work?
It’s important that you are aware of the temperature of the office or place you work, and dress accordingly.
If your office is generally cold, you should wear cardigans, professional sweaters, or if your boss allows it, you should bring a blanket to keep at the office to put on your legs when you sit at your desk.

Organize Your Office/Desk for Your FMS

Those who suffer from FMS are known to be more prone to distractions and lose focus on what they are working on.
Due to this, it’s important to keep your desk and belongings organized in your area, to ensure you know where everything is and can’t be distracted by trying to find something and lose focus.
Another great way to stay organized and keep your focus is to have a daily planner about what you need to accomplish each day.
You should also break off time in your schedule for periodic rests, these can help you dictate the amount of time you have in the day to get your tasks done.

Redo Your Work Schedule

Another great way to accommodate your work life to your FMS symptoms is to change your work schedule to something that will align with your illness.
This will require some working and open discussion with your superiors, but if you’ll still be working the same and getting tasks done, there shouldn’t be any problem with you working a different schedule. This schedule can only be determined by you.
Do you have more energy in the later morning? Come in later to work, and stay later. Or are morning easier on your fatigue? Then work with your boss to come in before the office is open to get work done.
It’s your choice and it’s personal to you and your FMS. You might need to take a longer lunch break due to fatigue and the toll driving takes on your body.
The most important thing to be open about what your chronic illness needs to allow you to properly function at work.

Wear Proper Footwear

At work, it’s important to wear proper footwear that is not only suitable for your job, but also for your FMS.
If you walk a lot at work, it’s important to wear shoes with the proper support and comfort that won’t cause a flare of pain in your ankles or feet.
If you work in a more sedentary position at a desk, it might be helpful to bring soft slippers or moccasins you can wear at your desk while you’re not walking.

Be Open with Your Coworkers About Your Illness

Not only is it important to be open with your boss and superiors, it’s highly recommended that you stay open with your co-workers about your illness.
You be scared of over-sharing or seeming weak to them, but it’s important to be open in case they can provide any help.
You should let them know if you are distracted easily, and give them open desk hours where they can talk to you or send an email first.
If you’re feeling fatigued and can’t work fully on a project, let them know and ask if they can provide any help.
Being open about your illness is always the best thing you can do for yourself, your job, and your company.


When living with FMS, it’s easy to feel that you’re unable to lead a normal work life.
Dealing with an illness that causes chronic headaches, pains, fatigue, and depression can be hard to do when you’re balancing love, life, friends and work.
Though, if you keep an open conversation with your boss and co-workers, stay organized and plan your time wisely, implement a work schedule that fits you, and dress properly for your work environment you can try to work smart when it comes to your chronic illness.

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