NFA QuestionsCategory: QuestionsFibromyalgia, Desk Jobs, & Having a Successful Career
Corey Anne Greenfield asked 4 years ago

I work in the computer science and data analysis field. Sitting in front of the computer for hours everyday while engaging in work that requires lots of focus and “brain power,” I struggle with my symptoms of Fibromyalgia. I push through symptoms like fatigue, pain, difficulty sleeping, stiffness, headaches and brain fog. I find myself questioning if I should even be in this field and I wonder if my symptoms will limit my career. I’m 27 and I was diagnosed about 2 years ago. I’ve tried a handful of treatments and I’m still figuring out what works. I was recently accepted into graduate school at one of the top schools in the United States and I just want to do well and feel like a normal person. Has anyone else felt like FM puts limits on your life? How do you stay on track or maintain a positive outlook?

12 Answers
Craig Kennedy Staff answered 4 years ago

I have tried to set up my workspace using the ergonomic suggestions found at the Mayo Clinic. It has seemed to help some. Maybe this would help you too. URL:

Abbey answered 4 years ago

I have a Varidesk. That way I can sit and stand thru out the day. I take walks often to keep blood flow and drink plenty of water. I have been trying to get into yoga 2-3 time a week after work. It all has seemed to help me.

Sarah answered 4 years ago

It took me 7 years to complete undergrad and 5 years for my doctorate. Took a decade off in between to work in the real world. I could not have made it through school or work without accommodations. Usually more time on assignments, and exceptions to tardiness and absenteeism rules. You learn as you go. I burned the candle at both ends when I was younger. Don’t regret it bcuz you can’t do those things in your 40’s. Make sure you get your accommodations before school starts. If you feel comfortable talking to your professors about your fibro, I found that mine to be more understanding, and I had comorbid medical issues as well. After years of experience, I have found that when you try to hide it and act normal, they just think you’re faking when you do bring in a note. They think you’re lazy or on drugs when you come in late or Moss class. Many people don’t understand fibromyalgia or don’t believe in it. Sometimes I just say I have an auto immune disorder or an anti-inflammatory disorder. You have to listen to your body and take care of yourself first. I have kidney stones, endometriosis, and a plethora of other illnesses. If I could make it through school with this, you can too! Good luck and take care of yourself. Never, never, never give up!

Beth Topping answered 4 years ago

I went from a promising position in a corporation to grad school shortly after my diagnosis. Now, I’m finishing my PhD. The demands can be intense, but for anyone in grad school esp eith our challenges, we can’t compare ourselves to others’ productivity or performance. We need to say no, and we need to work within the limits of our body, and that’s okay. The flexible schedule of grad school is truly a boon, there are tons of wellness services on campus that are cheap or free (so you can go to yoga class for example inexpensively and only need to invest in clothes), and the accommodations office will work with you so that attendance isn’t mandatory and you can get automatic extensions on everything in case you have a flare right when a project is due. Be honest with yoirself and as transparent as you need to. Your professors are forbidden from sharing any medical information inder FERPA, and depending on your field, the program may he really understanding and supportive. You can do this! Grad school will afford you some time to figure out what is best for you and what career choice will fit you. Its a new normal and it will work out. All the best!

Wendy answered 4 years ago

I take my meds. (Rheumatologist), and go to therapy 1 time a month. I requested my hours be changed because mornings are too hard. I spoke with my HR Dept. To let them know. They now accommodate me and my ergo needs I.e. varidesk. Planners for my fibro fog..I note everything to do..and check off as complete or move to next page to complete the task the next day instead. It’s a true balancing act. I do get up very early so my medications have time to work before I go to the dreaded shower and make up routine. I also invested through work, short term and long term disability just in case. Both cost 3.45 a paycheck. Well worth being prepared for the day you decide you can’t do the work thing anymore.

Janelle answered 4 years ago

I am struggling with the same things right now. I work in IT as well. I have found with fribro it takes several different things to make it work. First I talked with the HR department and they helped me get accommodations put in place like a sit to stand desk, a better chair, and an ergonomic floor mat for when I am standing. I also talked with my boss about working from home some on my bad days versus actually going to the office. It helps me not have to miss work so often because of the pain. I have a laptop I use for work so I can go back and forth from home and work while still getting my job done. I have had to put limits on working overtime because a full time schedule is a lot for someone with fibro and my body needs the time off to rest. Sleep is essential! Getting a good nights rest makes all the difference in tolerating the pain. If you have severe chronic fatigue like me without it you barely make it through the day. You may need sleep meds to help if they work for you. I also exercise everyday doing yoga and pilates stretches to keep my body moving. The constant moving is important to keep the pain down but also make sure you take some time to sit and rest throughout the day. I have found laying flat helps more than sitting for me so just taking about 20 or 30 minutes to do that can really help the pain on a busy day. I am also finding diet plays a huge part in how I feel each day. Eating every 4 hours or so helps combat the fatigue as long as you are eating the right things. Caffeine and sugar only make things worse and I have found a lot of processed foods give me problems as well. I eat a lot of whole fruits and veggies for snacks and I stick to foods that are close to the whole foods as possible because anything processed can give me problems with fatigue. Your best bet for diet is to keep a food journal for a while so you can see which foods trigger your pain and fatigue and which ones work for you. It’s a huge adjustment to do all these things but it can be done. It also helps if you have a job and/or boss that is sympathetic to your condition. I switched jobs because my last one ran me ragged and it wasn’t worth the pain and exhaustion. I started a job about a year and half ago with a company that was willing to accommodate and it has made a huge difference! I have also been experimenting with old herbal remedies like chamomile tea, tumeric, and ginger to help with the pain and inflammation. Lastly I do take cymbalta to help with the pain. It’s a lot to take in and keep up with so start with a little adjustment and slowly work towards your goal don’t try to do it all at once. On a side note I took 8 years to complete my bachelor’s degree part time but I finished and it was worth it. Don’t beat yourself up for taking longer than the “normal” person give yourself some grace and realize that you need to work with your body. Listen to what your body tells you and it will help you figure out how to adjust. Most importantly when it gets really overwhelming take a day off to refresh, adjust, and move on. You can do this!

Negin answered 4 years ago

Hello Corey, this may or may not be a good option for you, but I want to put it out in case it helps you or others. I suffered a lot of pain when I had a desk job too, lots of meetings and sitting at the computer. I now work in the science & environmental education field and have found my pain is so much less because I am breathing outdoor air and I don’t do repetitive motions or stay still at a desk. There is a lot of variety of motions; I move my body a lot. I use the computer too, but I’m also outside in all kinds of weather and it works for me. (I do not enjoy cold, but I own many many layers of wool and throw layers on and off as needed). I wanted to throw this out there in case there are others who have hesitated to choose more active careers. I’m lucky that I was able to change careers at a relatively young age (in my 30s).

kalli house answered 4 years ago

I’m a teacher and struggle after having COVID that made my fibro worse. I was managing well after 6 years but it really threw me into a bad flare with anxiety. I’m going to try to finish out the school year (my 2nd year) but I will try to find something different to better accommodate my needs and stress levels. I think it’s finding out what you can and cannot tolerate. I can handle a desk job as a secretary pretty good and I’m thinking about working part time maybe, even though I just got my degree 2 years ago. I hope you find peace and security in a job somehow. It’s hard. I thought I was managing fibro good with chiropractor bimonthly and massage therapist 1 time a month. Good luck.

Angela Cay answered 3 years ago

work while you can because it does get worse they say it doesn’t but i was diagnosed in 1998 and the older you get the worse those flares seem to be. and everyday things that we take for granted like getting things done fibromyalgia has no schedule but life events do and and it gets harder getting things done. keeping appointments following through can be a real challenge. simple things like washing your car off can put you in bed and the pain is horrible until it passes. I don’t mean washing it the right way I mean simply washing it by using the hose. its better just to take it to the car wash if you can.

Kari Lee answered 3 years ago

I just came across this site and I’m intrigued I’m trying to figure out why I got fibromyalgia I know that I’m the fourth person actually fifth person with a demanding call-center job that has fibromyalgia and I’m trying to understand the correlation. I just don’t understand why so many people are coming down with Fibro and it’s debilitating as all of you know.

I know that I work so hard that I must’ve typed nonstop 90 words per minute running back-and-forth wrecking havoc on my spine for 4 1/2 years. Is it the work demand and the level of stress that triggered this?

Does anybody want to weigh in?

I’ve been to 20 websites about Fibro and repetitive stress injuries are listed as one of four main reasons.

Kari Aicher answered 3 years ago

Update: I finally think that I solved the mystery but I’m not 100% certain it’s the same for all of us. I started working on a dual monitor 10 years ago I remember being so excited about it. My work doing recruitment is so demanding that sometimes I will sit for hours clicking the mouse and moving my neck from monitor to monitor reviewing apps. The combination of moving my neck back-and-forth from monitor to monitor and the excessive demands of clicking using my mouse combined has caused quite the conundrum with my back and my shoulder grid (and top elbow) I have a level two ridge in my neck on the right side basically it’s bone spur growth. The nerve roots get irritated when I move causing pain down my arms. I also have pain under my shoulder blade area. What happens is .. this combination causes tightness and it’s pulling my muscles down my arms. So I’ve had solo injuries in my arms such as TFC tear in my wrist and ulnar nerve issues. Those alone are fine but then you add this pulling and it intensifies. Then the fact that I type like a jack rabbit; using these new forums such as Microsoft teams, I have what they are calling Myofacial pain(knots)in my forearms and that’s also being pulled. My fingers are so weak right now and I barely can grip onto anything then you add insomnia and chronic fatigue to the mix and you’re pretty much doomed. My Worker’s Compensation doctor finally added fibromyalgia to my diagnosis or shall I say my list of diagnoses because there are many.

I’m sharing this because like many of you I’m seeking answers I’m trying to understand why I have this. My father I assume had Fibro; he also works in a repetitive environment but a different repetitive environment he worked as a butcher his whole career. maybe it’s hereditary or maybe we have overworked ourselves. We need to start educating people and protecting people of the dangers and the risks associated with repetitive tasks becoming chronic because this is no way to live. Thank you for listening!

Cindy answered 3 years ago

I had to stop working at my career of 32 yrs because of fibromyalgia. I was on medication. I was in my early 40’s. I applied for SSDI. 2 years later I won my case. My monthly amount was about half of what I was making while working.
One person asked the question “How did I get this?”. I suggest you begin reading the science written by The Medical Medium. When I read it, I could trace fibromyalgia up my family tree.
Why are so many people getting it? There are more people in the world. More people seek medical services and receive a diagnosis. Those in grad school or working towards your PHD: congratulations. In your 40’s, fibro will really hit you due to hormone changes. An acupuncturist, who does Natural Allergy Elimination Therapy, has been my best defense so I can function halfway normally. Eating right is essential. Sleep is essential. Modest exercise is essential. Therapy may be essential. It depends on your situation.