Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread body pain, specific tender pressure points, fatigue, and sleep disorder. It is often accompanied by other issues such as headaches, cognitive impairments (“fibro fog”), general stiffness, irritable bowel and/or bladder, and often emotional and mental distress. In some cases, symptoms can begin after an event like a physical trauma, surgery, infection, or illness, and in other cases symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no triggering event.
Fibromyalgia symptoms can occur alone or along with other conditions (such as migraines, chronic fatigue, TMJ disorders, anxiety, depression) and can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor will take an extensive history and get details of your group of symptoms and will probably run extensive tests to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. While diagnosis of fibromyalgia used to rely on the presence of a certain number of “tender points” (specific areas that experienced additional pain when firm pressure is applied) given the variable nature of fibromyalgia symptoms doctors now consider all of your symptoms together, and do not rely only on tender points in making a diagnosis.
While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, possible treatments can include medications and self-care strategies, with the focus being on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms, or all people, so your doctor will work with you to find the most effective treatment regimen for you.
Even with treatment, fibromyalgia and its symptoms can be disabling, and your doctor may advise you to cease working to minimize your symptoms, meaning you may have to apply for short and/or long-term disability benefits under a group or personal policy. Because there is no specific diagnostic test for fibromyalgia, and because its symptoms can be so fluid it can be difficult to demonstrate to a disability insurer how your condition prevents you from engaging in your own, or any, occupation. Disability insurers frequently take the position that symptoms such as fatigue, pain and brain fog are not “objectively” disabling, even when a doctor has advised that a person is not capable of working as a result of these symptoms.
If you are suffering from a condition like fibromyalgia, and your insurer has refused your claim for disability benefits, we may be able to help. We can work with you and your doctor to clarify why you are unable to work, and potentially pursue a claim against your insurer for your benefits.
Contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss whether pursuing legal action is right for you.