A Short Guide to Fibromyalgia

By Daniel J. Wallace; Janice Brock Wallace | Go to book overview

11
Work and Disability

Most of us have to work for a living. There are bills to pay and families to provide for. Since fibromyalgia patients do not usually look ill and on superficial examination appear strong, complaints of difficulty per⁃ forming the job can be hard to believe. This chapter will review defini⁃ tions as they apply to disability, impairments reported in fibromyalgia patients, and constructive approaches that allow individuals with the syndrome to work most effectively.


LET'S COME TO TERMS: WHAT IS DISABILITY?

The World Health Organization defines disability as a limitation of function that compromises the ability to perform an activity within a range considered normal. Efforts to manage work disabilities consider issues such as age, sex, level of education, psychological profile, past attainments, motivation, retraining prospects, and social support sys⁃ tems. Additionally, work disability issues take into account work-related self-esteem, motivation, stress, fatigue, personal value systems, and availability of financial compensation.

An impairment is an anatomic, physiologic, or psychological loss that leads to disability. Impairments include pain from work activities (e.g., heavy lifting), emotional stress (e.g., working in a complaint de⁃ partment), or muscle dysfunction (e.g., cerebral palsy). A handicap is a job limitation or something that cannot be done (e.g., deafness). Pa⁃ tients with a disability can be permanently, totally disabled and thus potentially eligible for Social Security Disability and Medicare health benefits. Other classifications include being permanently, partially disabled, whereby vocational rehabilitation, occupational therapy, and psychological or ergonomic evaluations can address impairments or handicaps to optimize employment retraining possibilities. Temporary, partial disability allows one to work with restrictions (e.g., no lifting

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