Information for Employers and Relatives of People with Fibromyalgia

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a common, but poorly understood, medical condition which results in widespread pain and fatigue. The main current theory is that people with fibromyalgia have developed an oversensitivity to pain signals. This is called central sensitisation and evidence suggests that it can result from a person overdoing things and not listening to their body. There is no simple cure. People with fibromyalgia are often perfectionists and this conscientious approach is often a factor in the development of the condition. They often have “good” and “bad“ days with the latter usually due to a temporary flare in pain.


Your employee or relative is attending or has attended a body reprogramming course. This course provides advice about lifestyle modification that can help recovery.

The aim of this document is to provide a brief description of advice that is relevant when the patient works or interacts with others. Patients have been given a longer patient guide.

At work:

The patient has been advised to change from one activity to another on a regular basis, and to manage their condition. Much of working life involves a continual pattern of behaviour over several hours. Fibromyalgia patients will find things easier if they are given regular breaks, or if the type of work they do is changed throughout the day. Fibromyalgia patients will also benefit from brief (e.g., 10 minute) periods of complete relaxation, though this may be difficult to achieve in a busy work environment. If they are working in an office, then the opportunity to move around may be helpful. Frequent stress-inducing deadlines are likely to be unhelpful, as will conflict at work. Patients are their own best guide. They are the best people to advise on work related modifications that will help their recovery.

At home:

Patients with Fibromyalgia benefit from a variety of activities over the course of the day. Patients are encouraged to engage in optimal physical activity, relaxation and doing things that create enjoyment. Patients are encouraged not to be static for long periods of time.

Patients are encouraged to listen to their bodies when their bodies provide signals. Frequent change of positive activity is key to potential improvement rather than just prolonged rest. Patients are their own best guide. Prolonged stress should be avoided, and patients should be encouraged to enjoy life as much as possible.

Body reprogramming has been developed through a collaboration between Plymouth NHS Hospitals Trust, Plymouth University and the patients themselves.