Fibromyalgia and computing

Fibromyalgia is a long misunderstood, often painful condition. As well as widespread pain and fatigue, it can cause irritable bowel, sensitivity to changes in weather, noise, light and smoke, headaches and migraines, cognitive disturbances and dizziness. Although the cause isn’t completely understood, it is thought that stress and trauma play their part in its onset.

How many people in the UK are affected?

Sinead O'Conner has fibromyalgiaIt is thought that fibromyalgia can affect as many as 1 in 25 people. However it is often mis-diagnosed because the medical profession do not know enough about it. It can often be mistaken for Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Famous people who have suffered from Fibromyalgia include Sinead O'Conner and Florence Nightingale.

How to make computing easier when you have Fibromyalgia

There are 2 main considerations when thinking about using IT when you have Fibromyalgia:

  • Your pain and comfort levels
  • Your fatigue levels.

Minimising pain levels

Are you sitting comfortably?

If you're experiencing body pain, it is important to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible. This includes what you sit on while at the computer. So you should have a chair that can be adjusted to provide you with the most comfort while sitting. You may need an extra cushion for your back or something to rest your feet on, and you may want a head rest. All these things should be taken into account when considering where and the way you sit.

Use your voice

Have you considered voice activated software? People with fibromyalgia can often have terrible pain all over and something as repetitive as typing can make it worse so why not think about voice recognition software? We have a factsheet about voice recognition which can be found on our website.

Do you need a headset?

If you use Skype or anything similar, a headset might be worth considering. If you do not have a headset and find yourself using a phone, you might find your head rests at a funny angle, causing neck pain.

Get your eyes checked

If you are prone to headaches and migraines, make sure you have your eyes checked at an optician regularly. Some people find they need glasses to help them work on the computer. Alternatively, experiment with different adjustments to the screen.

Adjust your computer

My Computer My Way is our free guide to help you adjust your computer, laptop or tablet computer working to meet your individual needs. It's easy to use and will reveal the free adjustments you can make now.

Managing fatigue

Take regular breaks

No one should sit at a computer for too long anyway but especially if you have fibromyalgia you should keep shifting yourself constantly. This will help both pain and fatigue levels.

Try a different computer

If using a desktop computer or sitting with a laptop is still too uncomfortable, why not consider a tablet computer, which are generally these are much lighter and may be easier to use. Check out our factsheet about tablet computers

How can AbilityNet help someone with fibromyalgia?

Whatever their disability AbilityNet helps disabled people use computers and the internet at work, at home and in education. There are a few ways that we can help:

  • Call our free Helpline to discuss any kind of computer problem. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm on 0800 269 545.
  • Arrange a home visit. We have a network of AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers who can help if you have technical issues with your computer systems. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.
  • We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free. 
  • My Computer My Way. A free interactive guide to the accessibility features built into every computer, tablet and smartphone.