The pain/fatigue connection

I have often thought that my pain, at least some of the time, causes, or perhaps makes worse, my fatigue.  Now we are all well aware that chronic pain over time will  wear you down from dealing, not only with the pain itself, but the mere fact that there is no cure and you can realistically expect the pain to be day in and day out.

So I am not talking about that, but about the moderate to severe pain that we fibromites have to deal with.  One day this week I had really AWFUL pain in my ribs and could barely stand up by the time I got home from work.  I made myself some dinner and went to bed and stayed pretty well motionless for the rest of the night and I began to wonder if the level of pain cause the level of fatigue to be what it was, not that I don’t have major fatigue here and there but this was much worse than I was used to.

So, as I was thinking to blog about it I decided to google it and see what I could find.  Not surprisingly, I got quite a few hits on google.  The first article I read is from an experiment at the University of Iowa on mice (yes, mice) in 2008 that suggests a biological connection between chronic pain and fatigue.

“To probe the link between pain and fatigue…the UI team compared exercise-induced muscle fatigue in male and female mice with and without ASIC3 — an acid-activated ion channel protein that the team has shown to be involved in musculoskeletal pain.”  Researchers put the mice through a series of runs and then measured levels of fatigue.  Males with ASIC3 suffered the least fatigue, while females without ASIC3 suffered the most.  Males without ASIC3 suffered more fatigue than males with ASIC3.  Females with ASIC3, when given testosterone showed as much stamina as the males with the protein; however females without the protein when given testosterone did not show improvement.

“The study…indicates that muscle pain and fatigue are not independent conditions and may share a common pathway that is disrupted in chronic muscle pain conditions.”  The ultimate goal of the researchers is to find better treatments for long term pain, but they also recognize that the effects of chronic fatigue dramatically reduces quality of life and the ability to be productive for the sufferers and concluded that, should they be able to find ways to reduce fatigue, much could be done to increase quality of life.

Another site suggested the fatigue that accompanies chronic pain might be due to depression, another coexisting condition in fibromyalgia, but I don’t agree with that at all.  Depression MIGHT go along with fibro, but I know my fatigue is not from depression.  And on Squidoo and article called “Joint Pain and Fatigue” says that “Any type of sustained pain…will cause the body to burn up both physical and emotional energy. This depletion of energy will cause the individual to feel extremely tired.”  The article also says that during a flare up of any type of chronic pain condition, be it arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia or something else, the body will use up a great deal of energy trying to reduce discomfort; therefore, reducing pain will often go a long way in reducing fatigue.

I found all this interesting since I have long thought there to be a connection.  Again, this proves to me that we are the best advocates for ourselves because no one knows our bodies like we do.


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