Fibromyalgia NZ: Is Fibromyalgia a Disability in New Zealand?
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Experts estimate that about 5 million people in New Zealand have fibromyalgia. On top of that, most of those people are women. However, this hidden disease may also affect people who are pregnant, have diabetes, or any other comorbid illness that debilitates their way of living.
You may wonder if fibromyalgia counts as a type of NZ disability. After all, it’s a chronic pain condition that can negatively impact all aspects of a person’s life. Additionally, there is no known cure for the illness.
Here’s what you need to know about the classification of fibromyalgia in NZ and whether or not you qualify for benefits.
What is Fibromyalgia Syndrome?
For those unaware, fibromyalgia is an illness involving the central nervous system. Those with the disorder suffer widespread musculoskeletal pain that can affect their energy levels, sleep patterns, and mental facilities.
In most cases, fibromyalgia can begin after some kind of physical or mental trauma. It’s also often associated with other conditions such as arthritis and temporomandibular disorder. However, there is no direct known cause for why it starts or how to effectively end the pain.
Women are also more likely to develop the disorder than men.
If you’re not sure whether or not you have fibromyalgia, there are some symptoms to keep track of.
First of all, you may feel widespread pain that isn’t really localized to one single area. It can present as a constant dull ache that builds up over multiple months. This pain is often found on both sides of your body as well as above and below your waist.
Secondly, this pain will cause major changes in how you sleep and function throughout the day. You may develop insomnia and become more fatigued. It’s not uncommon to have cognitive difficulties as a result of both your lack of sleep as well as difficulty managing your pain levels.
Finally, keep in mind that fibromyalgia often comes alongside other conditions. This includes but is not limited to:
- Chronic fatigue
Treatments for Fibromyalgia in NZ
While there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are some ways to help minimize its effects. You can lessen your pain through a combination of medication, exercise, reducing your stress, and therapy. What’s most important is that you work closely with your doctor to see what works best and why.
The first option when dealing with fibromyalgia symptoms is to take medication. Most doctors will recommend something like Neurontin (gabapentin), which helps with nerve pain. Neurontin is the brand name, while Gabasign is the generic name for Gabapentin.
It works by reducing the excitability of nerve cells and the transmission of pain signals. It’s also prescribed for illnesses like epilepsy, diabetes, and shingles.
In addition to medication, exercise can go a long way in improving your condition. It may be difficult due to your pain levels, but exercise will help to prevent your muscles from losing strength. You’ll also sleep better, have better digestion, and improve your body’s blood flow.
By improving your overall health, you’ll also reduce the effects of fibromyalgia on your daily life.
Reduced Stress with CBT
High-stress levels can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms. It’s common knowledge that stress can cause things like migraines to develop. Too much of it can put your body in a state of panic.
One way to cope with your fibromyalgia is to work with a professional therapist to practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This involves changing the way someone thinks and feels about a certain problem or behavior.
Another way to reduce your daily stress is through self-care practices. Performing yoga lets you stretch your muscles and loosen up your body. Meditation is also helpful for combatting depression.
What Is Considered an NZ Disability?
To qualify as a disability in New Zealand, your affliction needs to impair you and restrict your way of living in some way. Your disability may come from anything ranging from physical to mental-health-related sources. In some cases, you may need some kind of adjustment or support to manage how it affects you.
Another requirement is that the disability must last for more than 6 months. Suffering a broken leg does not make you disabled, as it should be able to heal within a few months. If a broken limb results in ongoing pain or some kind of deformity afterward, then that may qualify as a disability.
Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is one of those invisible disabilities that are impossible to diagnose by sight alone. You’ll need the help of your primary physician if you want to apply for disability.
How to Apply for Disability
In order to apply for a Disability Allowance in New Zealand, you must meet four qualifications.
You need a disability that has or is expected to last at least 6 months. This must also have regular, ongoing costs that aren’t fully covered by some other agency.
You must be a New Zealand citizen or resident and intend to continue living here full-time. How much you receive will depend on your home’s income. For example, the weekly income limit for a single adult is $786.69 before tax.
Applications are submitted online through MyMSD. You’ll need proof of your costs and for your doctor to complete a Disability Certificate. You can also submit your application form to your nearest service center.
You do not need to be on a current benefit to qualify. New clients fill out an Extra Help application form while existing clients fill out the Disability Allowance application form.
Coping With Fibromyalgia
On its own, fibromyalgia in NZ is difficult to label as a disability. However, it’s often accompanied by other illnesses, such as arthritis or severe migraines. What’s most important is that your doctor provides a proper diagnosis and submits the disability paperwork on your behalf.
If you’re in need of medication that can help your condition, try out Kiwi Drug. We provide products for all kinds of conditions as well as an online doctor if you need a prescription. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.