Fibromyalgia patients to become eligible for state disability stipend

Fibromyalgia patients to become eligible for state disability stipend

Chronic condition recognized for purpose of state benefits; rocket-battered southern Israel has seen surge in cases over past few years

An illustrative image of pain (Marjan_Apostolovic; iStock by Getty Images)
An illustrative image of pain (Marjan_Apostolovic; iStock by Getty Images)

Fibromyalgia sufferers are now eligible for a disability stipend, the National Insurance Institute announced on Saturday night.

The state will recognize those afflicted with the condition as 50 percent disabled, the NII said, after extensive consultations with patients and healthcare professionals.

The chronic disorder is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Data by the Health Ministry and Asaf, the Israeli fibromyalgia association, suggests that some 4% of Israelis – 240,000 people – are affected by fibromyalgia and its sibling condition, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, both of which affect more women than men.

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia and daily care focuses on managing its symptoms. It usually includes lifestyle changes and alternative treatments such as hydrotherapy, cognitive and behavioral therapy and in some cases, medication.

In southern communities adjacent to the Gaza border, the number of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia has increased exponentially over the past few years, according to a report released in May by NATAL – Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center.

Medical professionals have explained the uptick near the volatile Palestinian enclave by noting the condition can be triggered or exacerbated by stress.

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