Disability News


Fibromyalgia Trigger Points

Fibromyalgia is a painful disability that affects hundreds of thousands of Canadians. People who experience fibromyalgia live with constant physical pain which can affect their ability to sleep, lead to lower levels of energy and contribute to mood and mental disorders. Fibromyalgia is a physical disability that can greatly impact a person’s ability to work and is a major cause of work disability. 

People with fibromyalgia often find it exceptionally difficult to maintain traditional employment due to the unpredictable and debilitating nature of the condition. Fibromyalgia, characterized by chronic widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties often known as “fibro fog,” and a range of other symptoms, can make consistent productivity challenging. Even with accommodations, the variability of symptoms may make it impossible to maintain a consistent schedule or meet certain performance standards. Moreover, the physical and mental exertion of work can exacerbate symptoms, creating a vicious cycle of work-induced flare-ups. It’s a struggle that demands understanding, flexibility, and adaptability from both the individuals and their employers.

Many people who are unable to work with Fibromyalgia end up applying for and receiving long-term disability benefits – but often not without difficulty. Even worse, because fibromyalgia is an invisible disease, it is often difficult for disability claimants to remain on long-term disability. If you suffer from fibromyalgia and have been denied long-term disability benefits, speak to our fibromyalgia long-term disability lawyers today. Our disability lawyers have have years of experience dealing with cases involving fibromyalgia disability denials and are committed to helping you secure the long-term disability benefits that you need in order to financial survive.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a complex, chronic disorder primarily characterized by widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, and emotional distress. The pain is usually most pronounced in soft tissue areas around joints and can be akin to the aftermath of an intense physical workout. Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 2-3% of the population worldwide, and women are more likely to develop the disorder than men.

In the Canadian context, according to the Canadian Community Health Survey, approximately 440,000 people, or 1.5% of the population, reported a clinical diagnosis of fibromyalgia in 2016. The prevalence is significantly higher in women, with about 2.3% of Canadian women and 0.5% of men reporting a diagnosis. Moreover, fibromyalgia disproportionately impacts Canadians’ quality of life. According to a study published in the journal “Pain Research and Management,” Canadians with fibromyalgia reported lower levels of health-related quality of life compared to those with other chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Given the pervasive nature of its symptoms and the substantial impact on individuals’ lives, fibromyalgia remains a crucial public health issue in Canada and globally.

What are some Common Symptoms Associated with Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is associated with a constellation of symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s daily life. The most common ones include:

Widespread Pain: This is the hallmark symptom of fibromyalgia – a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. The pain usually occurs on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.

Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia often wake up tired, even after sleeping for long periods. Sleep may be disrupted by pain, or they may have sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.

Cognitive Difficulties: A symptom commonly referred to as “fibro fog” impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks. Memory problems are also common.

Emotional Distress: Many people with fibromyalgia also experience emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety. The chronic nature of the pain and fatigue can lead to frustration and stress, exacerbating these conditions.

Sensitivity: Individuals with fibromyalgia often have a heightened sensitivity to pain (known as abnormal pain perception processing), but also to things like cold and heat, bright lights, noise, and sometimes even medications or certain foods.

Other Symptoms: These can include headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, and even frequent urination.

These symptoms can vary in intensity and frequency, making fibromyalgia a particularly challenging condition to manage and cope with.

What are Fibromyalgia Trigger Points?

For many years (since 1990), one of the key identifying characteristics of people with fibromyalgia is the development of trigger points, which are a number of points on the body that are extremely sensitive to touch.

Prior to the revised diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia by the American College of Rheumatology in 2010, the diagnosis relied on identification of 11 out of 18 specific tender points on a physical examination. These points, which were particularly sensitive to pressure in individuals with fibromyalgia, were distributed symmetrically throughout the body:

  1. Occiput: Points at the base of the skull (near the nape of the neck).
  2. Low Cervical: Points in the front of transverse processes of the 5th through 7th neck vertebrae.
  3. Trapezius: Points midway between the neck and shoulder, at the topmost part of the shoulder muscles.
  4. Supraspinatus: Points over the muscle on the upper part of the shoulder blade.
  5. Second Rib: Points along the second rib, just lateral to the sternum (breastbone).
  6. Lateral Epicondyle: Points slightly below the outside of the elbow joint.
  7. Gluteal: Points in the upper outer quadrants of the buttocks.
  8. Greater Trochanter: Points behind the prominent bone of the hip.
  9. Knee: Points at the medial fat pad proximal to the joint line of the knee.

However, these specific tender points are no longer a central focus in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia as of the updated diagnostic criteria introduced by the American College of Rheumatology in 2010. The new criteria take into account the widespread nature of pain (occurring on both sides of the body, above and below the waist), the severity of the symptoms, and their duration, rather than a count of tender points. This change was made due to concerns that the tender point count was too inconsistent and subjective. Currently, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based more on a person’s symptoms and history rather than a physical exam or a specific number of tender points.

While specific tender points are no longer a diagnostic requirement, it is still acknowledged that people with fibromyalgia tend to have generalized sensitivity and can experience pain at specific sites on the body. In a clinical context, tender points can still provide useful information for healthcare providers when assessing a patient’s condition.

Can Fibromyalgia cause Work Disability?

Living with fibromyalgia can significantly impact an individual’s ability to maintain consistent employment. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Pervasive Pain: The primary symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain, which can fluctuate in severity but is a constant presence in the individual’s life. This pain can make it difficult to perform many job tasks, particularly those involving physical labor. Even jobs that are primarily sedentary can be challenging due to discomfort from sitting for long periods.
  2. Fatigue: People with fibromyalgia often struggle with persistent fatigue that can make completing even simple tasks a struggle. This can affect their ability to maintain the stamina needed for a full day’s work, especially in jobs with long hours or demanding schedules.
  3. Cognitive Difficulties: The so-called “fibro fog” is a term used to describe the cognitive issues that many individuals with fibromyalgia experience. This can include memory problems, difficulties with concentration, and slowed processing speed. Such symptoms can significantly impact job performance, especially in roles that require precise attention to detail, problem-solving, or multitasking.
  4. Sensitivity: Many with fibromyalgia have a heightened sensitivity to external stimuli, including light, noise, and temperature extremes. This can make some work environments particularly challenging if they are loud, brightly lit, or not temperature-controlled.
  5. Unpredictability of Symptoms: Fibromyalgia symptoms can wax and wane without warning. Individuals may have periods where their symptoms are manageable, followed by intense flare-ups that can incapacitate them for days at a time. This unpredictability can make it difficult to maintain consistent attendance and performance at work.
  6. Co-existing Conditions: Fibromyalgia often co-exists with other health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraines, anxiety, and depression, which can further complicate the ability to work.
  7. Sleep Disorders: Many people with fibromyalgia also have sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, resulting in poor quality sleep. This can compound fatigue and cognitive difficulties, further affecting work performance.

These factors can cumulatively make maintaining traditional employment exceedingly challenging for many individuals with fibromyalgia. Workplaces that offer flexibility, such as options for remote work, part-time hours, or modifications of duties, can be of significant help for those dealing with this condition.

Have your Long-Term Disability Benefits been Denied for Fibromyalgia?

Living with fibromyalgia can significantly impede an individual’s ability to maintain consistent employment due to several interconnected reasons. The primary symptom, pervasive pain, is a persistent presence, often fluctuating in severity but potentially debilitating enough to obstruct performance of many job tasks. Even jobs not involving physical labor can become challenging as discomfort arises from prolonged sitting.

Moreover, individuals with fibromyalgia often grapple with relentless fatigue, which can impair their stamina and affect their ability to cope with demanding schedules or long hours of work. Adding to this is the ‘fibro fog,’ a common cognitive impairment associated with fibromyalgia, which includes memory problems, concentration difficulties, and slowed processing speed. These cognitive issues can significantly hamper job performance, particularly in roles demanding meticulous attention to detail, problem-solving, or multitasking.

Often, fibromyalgia coexists with other health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, anxiety, and depression, which could further impede the ability to work. Additionally, sleep disorders like restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, which result in poor quality sleep, exacerbate fatigue and cognitive difficulties, further impacting work performance. Given these challenges, workplaces offering flexibility, such as remote work options, part-time hours, or modifications of duties, can provide significant support to those coping with this condition.

The denial of long-term disability benefits can be a significant issue for individuals with fibromyalgia. Despite fibromyalgia being recognized by medical professionals as a debilitating condition, insurance providers often deny disability claims due to its complex nature and lack of specific diagnostic tests. These denials can be particularly devastating, as fibromyalgia can severely limit an individual’s capacity to work, and long-term disability benefits often represent a vital lifeline for managing financial needs.

If you suffer from Fibromyalgia and have been denied long-term disability benefits we can help. Our long-term disability lawyers have been representing individual who suffer from Fibromyalgia and have been denied disability benefits since 1984. Contact us today no matter where you are in Canada by calling us at 1-844-4-DISABILITY. Alternatively you can email us confidentially and our intake specialist will you to help set up an appointment in-person, by phone or by virtual video conference. Our Disability Lawyers are based in Hamilton and serve disability claimants all across Canada.

You need an experienced lawyer who deeply understands disability law. At Camporese Lalande Disability Lawyers, we can help you fight the denial of your disability benefits and help you win your case. Don’t wait – contact us today to book an appointment to speak with one of our expert disability lawyers.



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