What Do You Mean? My Chronic Pain Can Cause Fatigue?

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Can Chronic Pain Cause Fatigue?

I am almost always tired.  And I’m pretty sure it’s not because I:

  • Don’t eat right 
  • Don’t get 8 hours of sleep
  • Don’t exercise

Because I do all those things!  And more. I concentrate on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  I go to bed at a reasonable hour and set my alarm for 8 hours later. I try to walk and do yoga everyday. My blood labs are fine too. So why am I tired? 

I think my tiredness has to do with having chronic pain.  Pain wears you out, and if it is chronic, it wears you out everyday. And it can impact your ability to function, your ability to sleep restfully, and affect your emotional and psychological outlook.  

What is Chronic Pain?

First off, let’s define chronic pain.  It is an unpleasant sensation or discomfort that lasts longer than the cycle for normal healing.  It may or may not be a result from an injury. It remains active in the nervous system for months and years.  It may cause tissue damage, or may be a result of tissue damage. 

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Through my research I have noted that chronic pain has several side effects, besides the obvious one of being in pain.  Some of those effects are:

  • Tense muscles
  • Inability to move, or a reduced desire to move
  • Overeating or not eating at all
  • Depression or feeling sad
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Fear
  • Worry over expenses of treatments for pain
  • Limited activities and social connections
  • Focusing on the pain and nothing else, so you’re not much fun to be with

What is Fatigue?

This is an overall feeling of lack of energy and motivation, even tiredness, although fatigue is more than being tired.  It is frequently associated with illness, especially if pain is involved. I read that it accompanies arthritis and fibromyalgia to name two.  But other illnesses can be associated as well. Furthermore, I read that inflammation can cause fatigue. And some medications can cause the side effect of fatigue.  So, make sure that you have all these issues investigated for you to reach a conclusion of what is causing your fatigue.  

For this article, I am focusing on chronic pain and fatigue.  I want to know the association, and more importantly, how I can manage it and hopefully feel better.  

I read in this article (Fatigue) that fatigue affects us all differently.  This is a very helpful article, and I recommend you read it.  I did find there were some sentences that repeated but overall the article is very good.  

Can Chronic Pain Cause Fatigue?

Probably the biggest correlation between chronic pain and fatigue is that chronic pain can interfere with sleep.  If you aren’t sleeping well, then you are going to be fatigued. I know, not very profound, huh? Even if you plan to get a good night’s sleep, sometimes that doesn’t happen.  I have written an article on getting a good night’s sleep. Click here.  Hopefully one of those suggestions might help you.  Let me know in the comments if it did. Or if you have other sleep suggestions.  

Furthermore, the physical, emotional, and mental energy you expend to deal with the pain can be exhausting, and this leads to fatigue.  Pain can just plain wear you down. It takes a physical toll as the body tries to adjust to the pain signals and inflammation. There is an emotional cost in feeling down, being discouraged and possibly depressed.  And our mental state of being tired interferes with being able to think clearly and even stay awake!

So in answer to the question; yes, chronic pain can cause fatigue.  Therefore, be gentle to yourself as you deal with not just the pain, but all the additional results from chronic pain. 

What Can You Do To Feel Better?

PLAN YOUR DAY:

Food: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve used is to cook a healthy meal with several portions involved.  That way you have expended the least amount of energy for several meals. You are using your mind to plan ahead.  This is very important when you are in pain and fatigued.  

I am on a limited food plan, high in protein and produce.  Finding something I like can be a challenge. When I do, I make a lot.  I just made a pork tenderloin with acorn squash in the crockpot. I’m going to have it for breakfast tomorrow.  It helps when I have something yummy to look forward to in the morning.  

The crock pot is a great tool!  I understand the Instant Pot is even better, but I don’t have one yet.  I highly recommend tools like these to make your life easier. That is one of the recommendations I found.  Think of ways to make life easier.  

If you have some tips for making life easier please leave them in the comments.  You will be helping all of us.

Watch your caffeine intake too.  There is that desire for a cup of coffee when you are tired, but it can boomerang on you and keep you awake when you want to be asleep.  I read that we should stop caffeine 10 hours before our scheduled bedtime. Since I go to bed pretty early, like 9 p.m., that means I must stop drinking caffeine by 11 a.m.  

Also, check to see if you are getting enough Vitamin D.  A deficiency in this vitamin can contribute to fatigue, as well as other problems.  Apparently most of us need a supplement.  

May I also suggest you keep a food diary?  Track what you eat and how you feel at the end of the day and the next day.  You will feel better as you eat better. Tracking it will help you practice better eating.

Free-Photos – Pixabay

Work:  Those of us who have chronic pain and fatigue take longer to complete tasks.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t complete them. I know some of my fellow bloggers produce 2-3 blogs a week.  I can’t! But I can produce one a week. I plan out my week and split the task up into 4 days. I use 3 days to write about 500 words a day and the 4th day to finalize it.  Then I post on the 5th day.  

That’s all I can do!  So plan your goals realistically.  As you go through your days, you will find you have to tweak your schedule.  But I highly recommend you make a schedule. You will gain a great deal of satisfaction from completing your list.  And even if you don’t complete them all, you will have accomplished something, which is a great feeling. And by evaluating your list and your accomplishments you will be able to adjust your schedule.

Some other good advice I read about was to pace yourself.  Know yourself well enough to not push if you don’t feel up to it.  The word balance comes to mind. And balance is critical to those of us in pain.  Self care and awareness of our capabilities as well as our limitations is crucial.

Breaks:  This is great advice for anyone, whether you suffer with chronic pain or not.  I read that short frequent breaks can make a positive impact on your fatigue, work output and general wellbeing.  Just a two minute break can help! And especially for those of us in chronic pain, changing positions is vital.

So get up from reading this and take a two minute walk.  You’ll also help your eyes to avoid strain by changing your focus.  And it clears your mind, especially if you are able to go outside and commune with nature for a bit.  Try it. I bet you’ll find you are more productive and feel better.  

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Movement:  In almost every post I have made on this site I strongly encourage movement.  That is particularly important if you are in chronic pain. Again, even if it’s just a little movement, it’s a start.  

Sometimes I walk.  Sometimes I do stretches or yoga. See these articles of mine for what I enjoy doing. Review of Jane Adams’ Gentle Yoga DVD – A Self Care Natural Solution for Pain and Inflammation.  And Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life DVD – A Natural Remedy for Pain

I hope to get back to swimming, which I can do all year round in SoCal!  What do you do? Let us know, we might like to try it too!

This following link is to a great website I just found.  I tried to contact them to see if they had a newsletter, but was unsuccessful.  But they have some great information about chronic pain, seeing as their name is Institute for Chronic Pain.  That link directs you to their article about Fatigue and Chronic Pain, which as you will see, gave me some of these ideas.  I hope you go there and find some help for your suffering. And investigate the other articles.  

RyanMcGuire – Pixabay

 

Find Joy:  I know it sounds like that would be the last thing you can do, but by focusing your mind on that which gives you joy, you are rewiring your brain to not give the pain as much power.  You can go with meditation practices, or just watching a funny movie. The meditation will probably help you sleep. Laughing produces happy hormones. Whatever you choose, take the bull by the horns and go for it.

Conclusion

Yes, your chronic pain can cause fatigue.  But you can start practicing some of these suggestions to make a difference in your life.

Your comments and thoughts will be helpful to this community of pain sufferers.  Please contribute. Thank you.

 

Can Music Relieve Pain?

Can Music Relieve Pain?

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Introduction

Are you in pain?  I am. I know you don’t really want to live with it.  You want it to stop. You want to live without chronic pain.  But the reality may be that you will have to live with it. I have, for the past several years.  Have you? What have you done to make life liveable? Do you have days that you can barely face the world?  Or even face yourself?

This website was the result of my pain journey.  I have spent hours researching how to deal with chronic pain.  My head was crammed with information. I started to test out some of the advice I was finding.  The posts I have written feature my collected information. I am honest in my evaluation. Some things work.  Some things don’t. I believe different options work for different people.  

As I continue my research, I am always hoping for a new exciting development in the chronic pain field.  So far, I haven’t found it.  

I realize there is more awareness and compassion in the medical field for chronic pain sufferers.  That wasn’t the case years ago. The common philosophy was that a sufferer should respond to what the physician prescribed, and if they didn’t then there was something wrong mentally.  I’m so thankful I have not been treated that way. I hope you haven’t either.  

Here’s what’s current and working for people

I’ve addressed most of these topics on previous posts.  Click on the links to check them out.  Some more in depth than others. Meditation, mindfulness and focus still need more research.  

Music

Today I am writing about Music.  What, you may ask, does music have to do with chronic pain?  Good question. I hope to answer that and more thoughts in this post.  

Research thus far has not been able to define the reason why music can assist in pain management.  The current wisdom is that music affects the brain in ways that can interrupt the pain message that is sent to the brain.  There are some instances where music has helped people with brain damage and mental illness to gain some victory in overcoming their disability.  

Apparently when the brain concentrates on music, the pathways in the brain are busy enough to block out the pain messages, or at least jam them up.  Music involves your hearing, your concentration, your emotions, and probably movement. I like to rock out to 60s tunes while I’m sitting at the stop light.  You know, move my upper body to the beat, snap my fingers. Or sometimes dance around the apartment as if I were a teenager. Check out this article from ScienceNordic titled Music Can Relieve Chronic Pain.

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Music Genre

The effect it can have on managing chronic pain has not been researched enough.  But one early study showed that the choice of music made by the sufferer made a difference in the music’s ability to relieve the suffering.  Just the act of picking out the music to listen to, researching the options and music that is available, can be a distraction to the brain to focus it off of suffering.  Furthermore, some types of music relaxes the individual by releasing endorphins that can be natural pain relief hormones. Just like opioids; only naturally!  Here’s another interesting article about this topic.  

You have probably experienced such feelings throughout your life, right?  Stop and think about some piece of music that is a favorite. For example, as a teenager growing up in the 60s in Southern California, Summer in the City, by the Lovin’ Spoonful became a benchmark to draw me back to those hot evenings of my youth.  Everytime I hear that song I am transported back to that feeling of hope, joy, and possibility.  It helped that I was cruising around in a 1967 Camaro, with 4 on the floor. 🙂 Does a song you love have that same power?  

Or think about the music that plays in an acupuncturist office.  I have experienced three different practitioners in my journey of pain.  The one I am using now is the most helpful. See here to read about my search for the right one.  The office plays relaxing quiet music which helps my mind to relax.  I am even able to take a nap! And that’s with needles stuck in me. And I don’t take naps or fall asleep easily.  

Music used with meditation has been shown to relax the listener.  Meditation is another form of natural pain relief. The combination of meditation and music can be a powerful natural remedy against pain.  Involved in this practice is some form of relaxation. I found this article while researching. I don’t actually care for the two music videos it features, but you might like them.  It’s a place to start. Click here: Can Music Relieve Chronic Pain?

Also think about all the music that Disney uses throughout their parks.  The music is happy and upbeat. No wonder it is the happiest place on earth!

Composer Robert Schumann is said, “To send light into the darkness of meant’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.”  Music brings light into the darkness of our suffering.

The following video was very inspiring and profound.  It got me thinking about how powerful music is.

 

Where to find music?

Wow!  The options are legion as far as apps are concerned.  Check out this link that evaluates the offerings out there.  It is written for Androids, but I believe the same apps are available for IOS.  

I’m using Pandora.  I paid for the basic subscription to avoid the ads.  But if you don’t mind the ads, it’s free. I believe that’s the case for most of the other apps.  I also will use YouTube to search a genre depending on my mood and have that playing while I work on my website.  There are so many choices out there, it is easy to find something for everyone.

The key to music relieving pain is that you are active in your listening.  This fits in with my philosophy of being proactive about your health. What is active listening? From my research I found these characteristics of an active music listener.

  • How does the music make you feel? Evaluate your response to what you are hearing.  Do you feel different feelings while the music plays?
  • What instruments do you hear? Try to name them.
  • What’s the melody?  
  • What are the lyrics?
  • If the music is classical, research why the composer wrote it.  It will add to your experience.
  • Does it make you want to move?  Cry? Sing along?  

This type of activity requires your full attention. This in itself will divert your mind from the pain.  But then you gain other benefits too. Your focus has shifted from your pain to an engaging activity. The type of music will change your mood.  For instance, classical helps me think and inspires me. My 60s music makes me happy and I have to get up and dance and sing.  

Here’s a place to start.  Look at what they claim!  “The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe“.  I don’t have a link right now, so I suggest you search it to find the best deal.

Conclusion

What about you?  I’m sure you have your favorites.  I want very much to hear about them, and why they are your choices.  Your comments will help others, opening each of us to new ideas. And hopefully to less pain.  How has music helped you with your pain?  Or with other issues in your life?  Join this community to help others.  

 

How To Sleep In Pain. Is That Possible?

Introduction

Does sleep seem to be illusive for you as you struggle with pain?  Can’t find a comfortable position?  The chronic ache won’t let you relax?  The throbbing stab yells at you for all your attention?  You toss and turn in vain to find a position where you are out of pain?

I know it all.  I spend too much time awake when I should be sleeping.  There are a lot of us out there, insomniacs for one reason or another.  This article hopes to address some suggestions for how to sleep in pain.

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Sleep, What is It?

Sleep? Have you ever thought about what it is?  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary it is “the natural, easily reversible periodic state of many living things that is marked by the absence of wakefulness and by the loss of consciousness of one’s surroundings, is accompanied by a typical body posture (such as lying down with the eyes closed), the occurrence of dreaming, and changes in brain activity and physiological functioning, is made up of cycles of non-REM sleep and REM sleep, and is usually considered essential to the restoration and recovery of vital bodily and mental functions”.  Note the emphasis on being essential to restoration and recovery of the mind and body.  Which tells me that if you aren’t getting the required sleep you need, that you are not functioning at your best.

There are many external factors that affect our sleep, such as work (including shift work which is a challenge in itself), food and environment.  But there are internal ones as well, including stress levels and pain.  I am presenting this post mostly for those of us who are in pain, because that pain can impact our sleep.  And lack of good sleep impacts our pain.  It can be a vicious cycle.  If you want a more detailed discussion of external factors affecting sleep, see this Harvard Education link.  But read on even if you aren’t in pain.  Hopefully this post will lead you to better sleep.

Here’s a statistic reported by The National Sleep Foundation.  “Sixty-five percent of those with no pain reported good or very good sleep quality, while only 45 percent of those with acute pain and 37 percent of those with chronic pain did the same. Additionally, 23 percent of those with chronic pain reported higher stress levels, compared with 7 percent of those without pain.”  I’ve seen a report that states one in four people have chronic pain.  So there are many of us that don’t sleep well.

Continue reading How To Sleep In Pain. Is That Possible?

Mental Health and Chronic Pain

Did you know that chronic pain can affect your mental health? Experts say that it can cause depression and anxiety. I can attest to that. When my pain started, I didn’t know how I was going to manage. I wondered how I could even get out of bed, much less go to work. I was very worried about my future. So anxiety became a secondary issue along with my pain.

Depression

Although my pain did not lead me into depression, I have experienced this at other times in my life. Depression is the main result of chronic pain. Depression can become chronic as well. Then we fall into a spiral of suffering with our pain, and suffering depression and anxiety. That’s why it is so important to be proactive about our condition. Natural pain remedies can include the following “non remedies”. The following are more suggestions that I hope will help you deal with your suffering.

Community

That is another reason why I have this website. I encourage you to become part of this community. As fellow sufferers, I believe we can help each other. Just talking about our problem does help. It fosters hope. It connects us emotionally. Having someone understand my suffering lifts my load a bit. Therefore, your comments and involvement here are important to all of us. You don’t have to have all the answers! In fact you don’t have to have any answers! By being available to others and “listening” to their struggles, you are providing a priceless service.

I hope as well that you have someone close that is understanding and helpful in your search for relief from pain. Not all friends/family are understanding. I have found the most understanding people are the ones that suffer or have suffered themselves. Perhaps through our sharing here, we can discover other natural pain remedies. If one good thing has come out of this pain I suffer, I think it is that I am much more understanding and compassionate with fellow sufferers. This was a motivating force in creating this website.

And don’t think that people are just suffering from physical pain. We already know that physical pain can cause emotional or mental pain. By reaching out to others, we can relieve some of their suffering and lift ourselves up as well. Isn’t that amazing?

Exercise

Another coping skill is exercise. When I first started to seek alternatives to treating my pain, I searched for exercises to help. I was even sent to a physical therapist. Some of the movement at PT hurt me. Sometimes I would push through in hopes of finding relief. I don’t know if that was such a good idea. The physical therapy didn’t really help, even though I did it regularly and faithfully. So I suggest you find what works for you. And start slow. Can you do some stretches while in bed? Can you do some chair yoga? Or merely walk a little around the house. Change positions often. In fact, if you have been sitting here, reading through posts and websites, I suggest you take a break right now and move for a little while. Then come back!

Every little bit helps. What I have found works best for me are gentle yoga stretches. And when I feel up to it, walking. What could be more natural than some sort of movement or exercise to relieve your pain?

I hate to admit it, but exercise is one of the hardest things for me to do. Which is crazy, because I know how much it helps me. I can actually tell the difference in how I feel depending on whether or not I do my stretches. So I have a mental fight with myself to make myself do the stretches. And they only take me half an hour! Half an hour for a pain free day is worth it, right? I’m thinking of building in some sort of reward system to help motivate myself. Suggestions are welcome. (But not food; that’s a whole other issue!)

Food

Speaking of food! Ha Ha. What I was referring to in the last paragraph is that I don’t want to use food as a reward. I have lived too long with the philosophy of “Living to Eat”. I now want to have the outlook of “Eat to Live”. Eating what is best for my body will not only impact my physical health, and my pain, but can also affect my mental health.

In her book, Happy Foods, Karen Wang Diggs spends a whole chapter (Chapter 5, Say Goodbye to Sad), writing about foods that affect our happiness. The whole book is an excellent resource of information for healthy eating, with easy recipes. I highly recommend it. She lists some of the same ideas I have here, on page 146 for ways to say goodbye to sad. The ones I haven’t listed above include: massage, volunteer work, gardening, therapy, and pets.

As far as foods, some good places to start, according to Diggs are:

  • remove gluten and any other foods that may be allergens
  • eat probiotics
  • remove processed sugar
  • eat organic and free-range
  • enjoy healthy fats

I’ve been challenged in my search for eating better to consume less meat. It makes sense to me that eating fruit and vegetables which are in a natural form should be healthy. I’m investigating Flexitarian and Nutritarian (A term I read about in Joel Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live.) philosophies. This is still a work in progress.

In Conclusion

At this point, I think it would be wise to sit with your thoughts and write out some goals for yourself. This year my overall general goals were make money, save money, and be healthy. Then I broke those down in to measurable tasks. I can imagine one of your goals is to be pain free. Can you try one of my suggested remedies? And give it some time. It took months for me to feel better. Even though I still have some pain, it isn’t as bad and I believe these remedies have been the reason. Please let me know what you did, how it worked and anything else that’s on your mind.