Symptoms from fibromyalgia may make driving unsafe. It’s important to consult with a doctor about ways to manage your symptoms and whether they feel it’s safe for you to continue driving.

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People with fibromyalgia have atypical pain perception, and they can feel widespread pain that causes sleep issues, fatigue (low energy), and mental strain.

If you have fibromyalgia, you may find it difficult to concentrate or experience anxiety attacks. This can make completing daily activities difficult and driving unsafe.

Learn more about fibromyalgia.

If you have fibromyalgia, you may be able to drive. But you may not be able to focus enough to drive safely — especially on days when your pain levels are high. You may also not be able to perform the necessary physical movements.

Some questions you should ask yourself before driving with fibromyalgia include:

  • Will I be able to stay awake?
  • How will my current symptoms affect my driving?
  • If my symptoms get worse while driving, what is my plan to stay safe?
  • How will any medications I’m taking affect my driving?

Some symptoms of fibromyalgia can make driving painful and unsafe. These include:

  • difficulty with cognition (directional disorientation, memory problems, difficulty concentrating and multitasking)
  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • numbness and tingling in the arms and legs
  • fatigue (low energy)
  • sensitivity to light

A 2015 study indicates that drivers with fibromyalgia were two times more likely to be in a car accident. In addition to vehicle damage, these car accidents can mean serious bodily injury to drivers and passengers.

If you have fibromyalgia, you might consider:

  • driving an automatic versus a manual car, so you won’t have to worry about the clutch
  • keeping trips local and driving in the daylight whenever possible
  • having a supply of glucose-boosting foods and beverages in your car
  • talking with a disability driving instructor about aids and technology that might help
  • planning breaks for stretching on longer trips
  • investing in comfy cushions for the driver’s seat
  • using a reliable GPS tracker even when heading to familiar locations in case you forget the way

You should not drive if your fibromyalgia symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from focusing on driving or make you unable to perform the physical tasks necessary. If your doctor has advised against driving, you should take this recommendation seriously.

If you’re taking medications that affect your ability to drive or have other medical conditions that impair your ability to drive, you should also avoid driving.

If you have fibromyalgia, there may be times when it’s safe for you to drive and times when it’s not safe. Pain levels and related symptoms can vary from day to day, so it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms every time you wish to drive.

Is fibromyalgia legally a disability?

You may qualify for disability if you have fibromyalgia. It depends upon the severity of your symptoms and how often you experience widespread pain.

Here’s more information about applying for disability benefits if you have fibromyalgia.

What can you not do with fibromyalgia?

If you have fibromyalgia, it can be beneficial to exercise, but it’s important to avoid overly tiring activities. You should also avoid sources of stress when possible.

If you find it difficult to get quality sleep, cutting out caffeine and sugar may be an option (if applicable), especially later in the day.

Do you need to rest with fibromyalgia?

It’s important that you get plenty of sleep if you have fibromyalgia. Especially if you’re experiencing disturbed nighttime sleep or increased mental and emotional stress from pain. Extra rest may then be necessary.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4 million adults in the United States have fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia symptoms can affect your ability to perform everyday tasks. If widespread pain from fibromyalgia affects your ability to think or leads to fatigue and high levels of anxiety, it may be unsafe to drive.

When deciding whether you should drive, you may wish to speak with your doctor or a disability driving instructor. They can offer an outside perspective on how safe your driving is and also suggest ways to manage symptoms.