Some of the most complex cases in disability law involve clients with fibromyalgia. This is because, on top of fighting the normal legal inertia of adjusters and insurers seeking to deny the claim, you battle the pervasive idea that fibromyalgia is a made-up disease with no physical basis. Indeed, insurers often exploit this stereotyped characterization in denying claimants, tying the fibromyalgia to mental disorders like anxiety. This minimizes the physical pain that people with fibromyalgia can have, and recalls the age-old treatment of “hysterics” as “others” who simply cannot handle the burdens of everyday life.
This is not the reality. Fibromyalgia is an extremely debilitating constellation of symptoms such as muscle pain, tender joints and a “foggy” sort of fatigue. It is often accompanied by anxiety and depression. Finally, the medical community has begun to find physical links between fibromyalgia syndrome and the immune system.
Increasing research on the subject has begun to reveal biological markers of fibromyalgia. Indeed, a new blood test called the FM/a test measures chemokine and cytokine patterns in the white blood cells. Fibromyalgia patients have “significant dysregulation patterns regarding these proteins.”
Scientifically, cytokines help regulate responses to injury and infection. Chemokines are a particular type of cytokine, which send white blood cells to infected or damaged tissues. Indeed, “Mounting evidence suggests fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms are influenced by dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) and the immune response system.” This is linked to immune responses caused by the inflammation inducing cytokines. In other words, fibromyalgia seems to be related to dysfunction in the body’s inflammatory response.
Ironically, the lack of understanding on fibromyalgia is more a function of its complexity, as opposed to the simple idea of an imaginary disease. In any case, a fibromyalgia diagnosis must be treated as real and should be taken more seriously than it currently is by insurers in long-term disability benefits (LTD) cases (and in Social Security as well).
We understand the disabling reality of fibromyalgia. Under any other name, the symptoms of frequent muscle pain, fatigue, depression and anxiety are disabling conditions taken seriously by the medical community and in disability legal cases. We understand this and know how to fight for you in your LTD case if you are suffering from fibromyalgia.
Please call us at (888) 213-8140 if you suffer from fibromyalgia and are considering or have applied for long-term disability benefits. We can help you plan how to fight the insurance companies at any stage of the process.