Fibromyalgia is a condition that is often misunderstood and although there has been a lot of work to raise awareness of it, as the questions in the title of this article show there is still work to be done to educate about what the condition is and how it affects people.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a long term health condition that causes all over body aches and widespread muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems and problems with mental processes (fibro-fog) It can also be called Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) People with the condition experience extreme sensitivity to pain, this is known as abnormal pain perception processing.
Does Fibromyalgia go away
Fibromyalgia is sometimes described as an ‘invisible illness’ which means that you will not always recognise that someone has the condition. The symptoms can often fluctuate meaning that on some days they will be able to complete everyday tasks and work and on others their energy levels will be depleted and their pain will be so severe they are unable to complete basic tasks.
Fibromyalgia has no cure but there are treatments that can help to ease the symptoms.
Helping someone with Fibromyalgia
- Find out about the condition. There are some great sources of information you can read including the NHS website and Fibromyalgia Action UK (FMAUK)
- Listen. You should never assume that you know best. The person with the condition is the expert on what works for them and what doesn’t. They will also be able to tell you signs that they are having a flare-up and how you can best support them.
- Take care of yourself. You will have heard the phrase ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup.’ You need to make sure that you look after your own health and wellbeing so that you are available to provide the best support and care.
- Remember that rest is important. There will be some days when the pain and symptoms are overwhelming and the best thing you can do is to remind the person you are caring for that it’s ok to rest, that taking a day or a couple of days to let their body recover is the right thing to do.
Fibromyalgia stories UK
It’s all well and good reading about Fibromyalgia and learning what we can but the best way to learn is to hear from people with the condition themselves. We have included a video from BBC stories and text-based stories from UK Fibromyalgia Magazine.
- Fibromyalgia: Living with chronic pain – BBC Stories – YouTube
- Fibro Warriors — UK Fibromyalgia Magazine
Fibromyalgia and work UK
You may be thinking ‘Can you work with Fibromyalgia?’ Having the condition does not make a difference to the skills and experience of the person with the condition. It may be that they can manage their symptoms and need no changes made to continue working. However, as the symptoms often fluctuate and flare-ups can occur, it may well be that a discussion needs to happen with the employer about reasonable adjustments that can be made, this can include flexible working such as reduced hours or part time work.
You can find our further information about working with Fibromyalgia from the department for work and pensions including employment and support allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Fibromyalgia UK benefits
There is support and benefits available to people with the condition if they find themselves unable to work or in financial hardship. So if your question is what benefits can I claim with Fibromyalgia then the answer is here.
The Equality Act 2010 (“the Act”) defines disability as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
The government recognises fibromyalgia as a potentially disabling condition but for it to be treated as a disability under the Act you need to be able to demonstrate that it has a long-term and substantial effect on a person’s daily life.
Turn2Us offers specific advice about benefits for different situations and will signpost you to the right places to apply.
Fibromyalgia and PIP
Fibromyalgia Research UK have written a brilliant guide about helping with the application process that lists tips and advice to help you when applying.
Support and Grants for Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia Friends Together has compiled a list of support and grants available for Fibromyalgia which will help you to access what you need to provide you with the best care and help.