Fibromyalgia is an illness that causes terrible pain and fatigue in people suffering from it, but the disease is not as well understood as others. For that reason, fibromyalgia used to be considered by some to be a psychosomatic condition, or only in the patient's mind. But as diagnostic methods have improved, fibromyalgia has moved into the mainstream. For example, a case that forces a sufferer in Columbia to stop working may qualify him or her for Social Security Disability benefits.
Though much is still unknown about the disease, fibromyalgia can cause a variety of symptoms. Pain throughout the body is common, especially in joints, the neck and the back. The pain can lead to indirect problems like trouble sleeping or unrefreshing sleep, headaches, dizziness and memory or cognitive problems.
"Although some Administrative Law Judges or even physicians are skeptical, Social Security has specific regulations that deal with fibromyalgia and how social Security evaluates the disease." See SSR 12-2p for more information.
Some of these secondary symptoms can be caused by the body's pain disturbing sleep. Often, fibromyalgia patients cannot sleep through the night. When they do sleep, they often cannot enter the deepest stage of sleep known as slow-wave sleep. Healthy people need a certain amount of slow-wave sleep to feel awake and alert during the day. Lack of slow-wave sleep can cause chronic fatigue, possibly triggering depression and other problems.
How fibromyalgia develops is not known. Some researchers believe that hormonal imbalances in glands such as the adrenal, thyroid and pituitary glands may affect pain perception and tissue health. Other serious conditions such as digestive disorders can also develop.
Fibromyalgia syndrome can be treated, but suffers may have to stop working at least temporarily. During that time, SSD benefits may be able to help cover expenses.
Source: CDAPress, "The pain of fibromyalgia," Holly Carling, May 22, 2013