Having a job and fibromyalgia

Two years ago I made the decision to work from home.  Unfortunately, not everyone who has fibromyalgia can do that.

If you are finding it harder to hide your disease from your boss and coworkers, discuss your fibromyalgia with them. It will reduce some of the stress you are feeling.  Talk about the symptoms of pain, fatigue, and stiffness. Explain how you may have good days and bad days.  Explaining fibromyalgia will help give people at work a better idea of what you are feeling each day. Ask your boss if you can take work home if you are feeling bad and ask if you can come in on a weekend if you miss a day of work.

A good resource to share with your employer is the Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Fibromyalgia from the Job Accommodation Network.  JAN’s Accommodation and Compliance Series is designed to help employers determine effective accommodations and comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The site offers information about what fibromyalgia is, what the symptoms are, what causes fibromyalgia, and how fibromyalgia is treated.  It also explains if fibromyalgia is considered a disability.

For the employer:

Questions to Consider when accommodating employees with Fibromyalgia:

  1. What limitations is the employee with the fibromyalgia experiencing?
  2. How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
  3. What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
  4. What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
  5. Has the employee with the fibromyalgia been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
  6. Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee with the fibromyalgia to evaluate the effectiveness of   the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
  7. Do supervisory personnel and employees need training regarding fibromyalgia?

Accommodation Ideas:

Concentration Issues:

  • Provide written job instructions when possible
  • Prioritize job assignments and provide more structure
  • Allow flexible work hours and allow a self-pace workload
  • Allow periodic rest periods to reorient
  • Provide memory aids, such as schedulers or organizers
  • Minimize distractions
  • Reduce job stress

Depression and Anxiety:

  • Reduce distractions in work environment
  • Provide to-do lists and written instructions
  • Remind employee of important deadlines and meetings
  • Allow time off for counseling
  • Provide clear expectations of responsibilities and consequences
  • Provide sensitivity training to co-workers
  • Allow breaks to use stress management techniques
  • Develop strategies to deal with work problems before they arise
  • Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for support
  • Provide information on counseling and employee assistance programs


  • Reduce or eliminate physical exertion and workplace stress
  • Schedule periodic rest breaks away from the workstation
  • Allow a flexible work schedule and flexible use of leave time
  • Allow work from home
  • Implement ergonomic workstation design

Fine Motor Impairment:

  • Implement ergonomic workstation design
  • Provide alternative computer access
  • Provide alternative telephone access
  • Provide arm supports
  • Provide writing and grip aids
  • Provide a page turner and a book holder
  • Provide a note taker

Gross Motor Impairment:

  • Modify the work-site to make it accessible
  • Provide parking close to the work-site
  • Provide an accessible entrance
  • Install automatic door openers
  • Move workstation close to other work areas, office equipment, and break rooms

Migraine Headaches:

  • Provide task lighting
  • Eliminate fluorescent lighting
  • Use computer monitor glare guards
  • Reduce noise with sound absorbent baffles/partitions, environmental sound machines, and headsets
  • Provide alternate work space to reduce visual and auditory distractions
  • Implement a “fragrance-free” workplace policy
  • Provide air purification devices
  • Allow flexible work hours and work from home
  • Allow periodic rest breaks

Skin Sensitivity:

  • Avoid infectious agents and chemicals
  • Provide protective clothing

Sleep Disorder:

  • Allow flexible work hours and frequent breaks
  • Allow work from home

Temperature Sensitivity:

  • Modify work-site temperature and maintain the ventilation system
  • Modify dress code
  • Use fan/air-conditioner or heater at the workstation and redirect  vents
  • Allow flexible scheduling and work from home during extremely hot or cold weather
  • Provide an office with separate temperature control


There are numerous products that can be used to accommodate people with limitations. JAN’s Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR) at http://AskJAN.org/soar is designed to let users explore various accommodation options. Many product vendor lists are accessible through this system; however, upon request JAN provides these lists and many more that are not available on the Web site. Contact JAN directly if you have specific accommodation situations, are looking for products, need vendor information, or are seeking a referral.

To find more resources regarding Fibromyalgia, click here.

About Michelle Arbore

I am 36 years old, married for 8 years and have an almost 3 year old, Michael Richard. We also have two cats (Anibel & Mama). I own my own social media management and coaching business that allows me to work from home. I like to read, listen to music, take photos, learn new things, shop, watch TV and spend time with family and friends. I also suffer from Fibromyalgia. I have suffered from this disease for over 15 years now. I started my blog so I could have a place to vent about what I am feeling. It has turned into a place where I post information about this disease, talk about books that I am reading about Fibro, and getting to meet other people who suffer from this.
This entry was posted in Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Pain, Depression, Diet, Exercise, Fatigue, Fibro, Fibro Fog, Fibromyalgia, Gluten-Free, Medicine, Memory Problems, Stress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Having a job and fibromyalgia

  1. Hari says:

    Great post dear! You really posted a great article and it will help all the person. Who are wanting help form someone. Your information is very helpful.
    Thanks for writing these type of article.

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  3. Pingback: Lifestyle changes with Fibromyalgia

  4. Shawn says:

    Good advise! My friend deals with fibromyalgia and I can’t keep up with her but when she crashes she is down for awhile. It was interesting to read more about the disease.

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