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Battling Fatigue & Chronic Pain

Do you have chronic pain? If so, chances are you’re also in a daily battle with fatigue. We’re talking about the type of exhaustion that disrupts your daily life and doesn’t get better after a good night’s rest. It can really feel like an uphill battle, especially as it typically affects the quality of life for people suffering from arthritis-related diseases, including:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lupus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spondyloarthritis

Fatigue Triggers

The biggest fatigue triggers are the inflammatory disease process and the chronic pain that goes along with it. There are other contributions, however, that can even further exacerbate fatigue.

  • Anemia: Caused by a shortage of red blood cells, anemia causes your muscles to get tired fast. In fact, nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis have anemia of chronic disease, which occurs when inflammatory chemicals impede red blood cell production.
  • Depression: Arthritis pain can prevent you from doing the things you enjoy, which is why depression so often goes in tandem with the disease. This is a comorbidity that often leads to more feelings of fatigue.
  • Inactivity: The less active you are, the more exhausted you’ll feel. Unused muscles can weaken — causing you to tire more easily.
  • Lack of Sleep: Getting into a comfortable position or staying asleep is a challenge with joint pain. Insomnia, disrupted sleep, and sleep apnea can all contribute to poor sleep.
  • Medication Side Effects: Some antidepressants, blood pressure medication, narcotic pain relievers, and prescription NSAIDs and DMARDs all have the potential to cause fatigue.
  • Obesity: Lack of exercise, using extra energy to move more bodyweight, and metabolic changes can contribute to fatigue.
  • Poor Nutrition: Your body needs plenty of water, vitamins, and minerals. If you have more junk food than healthy and don’t drink enough water, your fatigue could be a result of dehydration and vitamin deficiency.

Fighting Back Against Fatigue

Knowing what causes your fatigue is the first step you can take in your fight back against it. Now that we’ve covered potential triggers, fill up your toolkit with the following tips on how to address them.

Get Active
Exercise increases muscle mass, strength, blood circulation, and flexibility. Each of these things is proven to help boost energy and reduce pain. Exercise also generates endorphins, which produce a sense of well-being and vitality and can improve sleep.

Drink Enough Water
You need at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water or more a day, depending on your activity level and how hot and dry the weather is.

Eat Well
Make sure you have a balanced idea full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. If you need to lose weight, reduce your portions and limit processed, high-salt, sugary foods. Always start your day with breakfast that includes lean protein and complex carbohydrates for long-lasting energy.

Ease Your Mind
Consider seeing a therapist. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, yoga, and tai chi can help calm your thoughts and boost your energy.

Maintain Good Sleep Habits
Sleep hygiene is an important part of getting a good night’s rest. Make sure you have a good bedtime routine. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Make your bedroom conducive to rest. Turn off your computer, cell phone and television an hour before going to sleep.

We’re Here for You

Above all, be gentle with yourself. Exacerbating your fatigue and mental state by being hard on yourself will only bring you down more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Loved ones can be great support systems, and there are medical interventions that may help you feel better rested. Schedule an appointment today to learn more.

Further Reading

Hand and Wrist Arthritis
Non-Surgical Approaches to Arthritis
Pain Management