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Overcoming the Fibromyalgia Stigma

If you or a loved one has fibromyalgia, you're probably familiar with how often it is misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding can often lead to inadequate treatment and denial of disability insurance claims.

As medical understanding is improving, widespread discrediting of fibromyalgia symptoms may be waning. Those living with the syndrome in the meantime, however, will want to do what they can to make sure they get needed treatment and workplace accommodations - and, if necessary, disability insurance.

For both treatment and insurance claims, the most important thing to do is document, document, document.

What makes fibromyalgia symptoms especially tricky to describe is that, in isolation, they can be easily attributable to other causes. Many people have experienced muscle pain, trouble sleeping or fatigue at some point in their lives or even fairly regularly. However, for those with fibromyalgia, these symptoms are chronic and severe, often negatively affecting employment prospects and quality of life.

To help medical providers, employers and insurers understand the severity of your symptoms and how they limit your ability to work, it's a good idea to start keeping a detailed journal, including not just the pain and fatigue you feel but the things the your pain and fatigue restrict you from doing. While a single day's entry might look like any number of things, a chronicle of many months of symptoms will make it easier for others to see the mark of fibromyalgia on daily life.

Learning to describe your experiences in detail can help ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment. However, it's also important to remember that a diagnosis of fibromyalgia does not guarantee a successful application for long-term disability.

Knowing it might be a battle, however, can help you prepare for your case. Even before you make a claim, make sure your note taking is detailed, and that you're sharing information with your doctor and employer about daily difficulties performing your job. And in the unfortunate (but all-too-common) case that an insurance claim is denied, an attorney can work with you to make sure you have all the documentation you'll need to make a successful case.

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