Does Fatigue Worsen Chronic Pain Or Does Chronic Pain Cause Fatigue?
Updated: Jun 20
This article is asking you to ask yourself questions. Sometimes if we become stuck in chronic pain without the ability to see options never mind find solutions all we have left are questions. That's OK as before answers come questions.
Asking Questions About Your Chronic Pain
I'm tired, so my chronic pain is worse!
Or is it that I'm in chronic pain so that makes me tired?
This really, truly is a chicken and egg situation. You need to have chickens to lay eggs, but you need an egg to get that chicken to lay their eggs?
When you're locked in daily chronic pain it is impossible to know, or to break down the connection between tiredness and chronic pain.
After months or years it's just a cycle, a chronic pain roundabout you travel every day. Pushing through is an expression I hear from my chronic pain clients, a lot.
Fatigue is a word, often ticked on my induction form. Fatigue is a favourite, closely chased by anxiety.
So, what is tiredness?
Is tiredness a mental thing?
Okay if you don't sleep due to chronic pain, then I accept you can be physically tired as a lack of sleep is obviously a valid reason for having worse chronic pain at the same time feeling exhausted and tired.
Chronic Pain Stops Me Sleeping
As sleep gives our bodies time to renew and regenerate. It's useful for our digestive system to be free of the work of eating, effectively having time for nutrients to be digested and integrated to where they need to be.
How To Manage Chronic Pain
Tiredness - I've expended all my energy OR have me and my pain over extended myself.
These are questions that I don't have the answer to but I'd like you to think about them.
Ø Is your brain making you tired?
Ø Is your body making you tired?
Resting, taking a breath, will this help?
Two Aspects of Living with Chronic Pain that Relate to Fatigue to Consider
Firstly, too tired to keep your place, your home or perhaps your office or desk tidy.
Clutter is Stressful AND Stress Worsens Chronic Pain
Stress Worsens Chronic Pain AND Clutter is Stressful
Ideas to reduce stress to relieve chronic pain at home
As clutter in our home is stressful and being stressed makes our chronic pain so much worse, before bed consider doing these things.
· Tidy up somewhat.
· Get stuff ready for the morning
· Put dishes in the dishwasher and/or put pots, pans and dishes away.
· If mornings are hectic try putting together some breakfast or lunch ready to go even if not fully complete.
Declutter To Relieve Chronic Pain
I understand that to make an effort to do a little decluttering is the very last thing you want to do, as generally at the end of the day chronic pain can be at its worst. But in the morning a bit of clear space will be great, giving you that little bit of relief and calmness.
Years ago my hubby, he's been around 30 years now, promised to do the kitchen "put away" at night and I still love coming down in the morning to clear tidy kitchen counter. Sadly after 30 years, doesn't always get around to it. But I certainly feel the calmness of that clear tidy kitchen when it happens.
Painful To Keep The House Clean And Tidy - Get A Plan
Secondly, some of my chronic pain clients cannot, are not able to be in a cluttered house, let alone a cluttered kitchen. Regardless of the pain their house needs to be tidy, they cannot live any other way.
This brings me to the story of a client; I'll call her Sandy, who had fibromyalgia. She didn't want to take medication and by working with me over several months was doing exceptionally well and had periods of being completely pain free. However, we had the discussion about the 'tidy house'.
She was a working mom of two teenage sons, she had an executive position at work and a husband that had to travel and work away for considerable periods of time. Now I'm not sure how many of you have teenage sons but I surmise from growing up with two brothers that tidying the house is not something that they thought about too much.
Chronic Pain Helped By A Family Conference
One of the things that Sandy had to do to improve her health and reduce chronic pain was to organise a family conference. At this family conference decisions were made about different responsibilities and different chores and at the same time Sandy really had to dial down the need for everything to be tidy.
Now I'm sure some of you reading this will agree with Sandy and will be saying, Jean it's just not something I can do. Well, I hear you and I understand the amount of stress that you have if you don't tidy up and have a clean tidy house.
Learn Techniques to make changes to your thoughts
What I would say to you, you have found something or someway that you can relieve or reduce the levels of your chronic pain. There are many people with many techniques that can help you reduce that need to be or to have that perfection in your housekeeping.
I realise not many chronic pain specialists will be asking you about housekeeping or feeling proud of your house and home. But as I said above it is an important key that may open pain-free or painless times in the future.
Memories, thoughts and habits are strange but valuable things. They can be either good or bad but there's nothing we can do, sometimes.
I just like to end this blog with a story of my own and it brings in a memory getting planted in my brain that I cannot get rid of, as you've read above a lot of our thoughts and actions and rituals govern much of our day and hence influence the level of chronic pain that we have to live with.
How Memories Impact Chronic Pain
At the time I was living in Perth, post surgery that left me with chronic pain. Therefore I did what most of us do and end up, via the doctor, going to a chronic pain specialist. Actually, I visited two different pain specialists, each of them twice in fact.
The last appointment was with a professor, therefore top of the hierarchy in chronic pain specialists. This was a second visit. I shared with him the impact of the pain medication he's prescribed. I can't describe it as anything else but it sent me doolally, I really felt everything was not right inside my brain after just a week of taking his recommended medication. Therefore I said I didn't want to take the medication anymore. I hoped that he might suggest something else. Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar position?
Shortly after this he examined my arm and my shoulder, which at the time were not working very well, very painful and didn't want to move too much. So this is what he said about not taking his prescribed medication.
"You'll be back in 10 years time and you'll be begging me to give you an injection to relieve your pain."
Now I'm not sure of the date and I don't quite think I've got to the 10 years yet. But you know the sad part is that I was lying in bed this morning, it's our national holiday so didn't have to get up. This morning I could feel pain in my arms and shoulder mostly because I'd done a lot of gardening the previous day, however his voice and what he said came back to me and it was nearly 10 years ago!
Techniques to Change Negative Thoughts
Therefore, time for changing negative thoughts techniques, with some positive thinking and some breathing before I got up. But you know I really, really, really, really, wish that chronic pain specialist had not made that careless remark. It was really unnecessary. Of course I'm sure he doesn't remember it but unfortunately I do, sometimes, it only happens sometimes when my right shoulder decides it wants my attention.
I hope this article is prompting you to ask questions, first in your own mind and then you are ready to take to a pain specialist who you can take the questions!!
NOTE: The above is the opinion of the author and does not diagnose chronic pain. If you have pain - visit your doctor to diagnose your pain.
Ideas can be found in the articles on my website. You can sign-up to regular updates or spend time using some of the collection of self-help techniques. After over 20 years of having my own pain clinics pain I started Natural Pain Solutions online business to reach more people, rather than one person at a time. Therefore when I completed my postgraduate pain management studies I wanted to spread the word about holistic self-help techniques that people can use at home. Learn more about me here.