How to Reduce Fatigue and Pain Interaction

Chronic pain sufferers know the toll pain can make us fatigued. In fact, pain can be so tiring that fatigue sets in.

Notice what each of us has a particular set of factors or triggers.

Fatigue indicates that there is a unique set of factors to tiredness rather than just a single cause.

Among countless variables that conspire to exhaust, emotional pain and tension from life’s stressors is a common culprit.

We are living in overwhelming times. But there are keys to reducing much of our fatigue. For example, much of fatigue is really muscle tension and when your muscles are tense you're going to be in more pain so, unfortunately, there is a fatigue and pain connection. What you want to do is find ways to break that connection.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines stress as, “the brain’s response to any demand,” therefore stress comes from all directions. We all want to rise to the demand of the times but pain can make that near impossible. To learn about how to be Pain Free at Last.

Outside Stressors

Everyday pain, work, illness, relationships, strained finances along with life events like relocation, job change, unemployment, marriage, and divorce, among many others can lead to fatigue.

Emotional stressors

We may experience fatigue symptoms from personal disappointments like a betrayal, a broken friendship, or a demotion at work. Fatigue can even come from listening, watching or reading the daily news.

Our bodies react the same way

dark lion looking straight onTake these three scenarios: We are in a room with a live lion. We are looking at a picture of a lion. We are thinking about a lion. Research shows that in all three instances, our bodies react the same way.

So even if we were just looking at a picture of a tiger or merely thinking of one, the same fear pathways are triggered.

Notice thoughts

If the same fear neural-pathway is triggered just by thinking of a tiger as by being in a room with one, we can, therefore, conclude that thinking about pain, death and destruction cannot help us.   

Notice if you are triggered with the same thought again and again.

But those thoughts affect us emotionally, which can then affect the chemicals in our bodies.

Multiple Stressors

When multiple stressors hit us at the same time, they can compromise our sleep schedule, diet, and ability to exercise. All of these pile on to create fatigue.

When dealing with multiple stressors, our bodies instinctively release adrenaline, disrupt the digestive system, perhaps even heart rate and respiratory systems.

Our muscles tense up, the response in which our body instantly prepares to protect itself from pain or injury. But as we tense the usual pain increases not decreases.

Unfortunately, the worse the stressors are, the less we’re able to focus on any solutions.  Even ones that seem obvious do not jump to mind, like drinking a glass of water, breathing, regular sleep, good nutritious food and invigorating, stress-reducing movement.

When we are stressed, the best thing to do is take a break. 

That break can be for only a few minutes but however long it can help.

What happens when we defend ourselves against upset?

We activate our natural defense mechanisms; the brain, nervous system, hormonal (endocrine) system, immune system, and adrenal glands which all can become compromised depending on the severity of the situation. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) are our key regulatory centers and are activated by stressors to the point of compromise. Inadequate regulation of these stress-response systems causes chronic stress.

Pain in Stress Situations

Often pain increases in stress situations and lowers in times of high-stress because the body expects to jump to action so suppresses the pain signal.

 

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue and pain are especially common with people who experience prolonged and intense stressors. “As the name suggests,” according to AdrenalFatigue.org, “its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable entity like measles or a growth on the end of your finger. ”

You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness, or ‘gray’ feelings.

Using Stimulants for Fatigue

coffee shop womanPeople experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas, and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.”

Without taking steps to turn the tide of chronic pain or adrenal or stress-related fatigue, we find our energy consistently sapped. Click To Tweet
L0010160 Pain of the sick “Anatomy of Expression”, Bell 1806
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Stress-induced fatigue

Stress-induced fatigue symptoms vary depending on the individual and may include any of these:

  • Headaches and/or temporomandibular (jaw) pain
    Backaches and/or neck pain
  • Breathing issues
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite (resulting in unintended weight loss)
  • A binge-eating disorder (with unintended weight gain).
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restlessness
  • Premenstrual or menstrual disorders for women
  • Erectile dysfunction for men

 

We need to notice; Did the fatigue come from the pain or did the pain cause the fatigue? Click To Tweet
How to deal with Fatigue
Self-observation

With the knowledge of what came first, both the pain and fatigue can be reduced.

Fatigue then pain

If the stressors cause fatigue which then causes the pain, look for ways to reduce those stressors.

Focus on noticing what is out of whack and make changes. Look for balance in life and work. Let go of energy-sapping relationships.

In this pandemic – this is a great challenge – the need to control

man with flowers on grassLet go of all the worries about the events, people and things that can not be controlled.  

Likely there was a time in life when we felt like there was a reasonable balance. Think about what demands have made that balance impossible.

 

Doing too Much

Are there too many new tasks, interests, or commitments that by themselves are meant to be relaxing but together are stressful?

For example, if volunteer work, zooming with friends, and time-consuming hobbies make regular life demands impossible then cut some of them out, at least for a while.

Find daily Balance

cut away of body with foodDevote more time to sleep, good food, calming and soothing techniques, regular movement, and stress reduction practices like gratitude.

Then work and family responsibilities will come more into balance.

Pay close attention to what and when you are eating and adjust what makes you feel tired.

Pain then Fatigue

If the pain causes fatigue then focus on pain reduction techniques such as distracting or flooding the brain with positive biochemicals – endorphins.

This technique uses thoughts, sensations, imaging, pleasant memories, soothing emotions, movements, and beliefs.

Use your senses!
Use your senses

We can do this by using the senses:

  • Smell something pleasant, such as baking bread, essential oil or candle
    Listen to a calming and soothing or perhaps using an energizing musical playlist, or sing.
  • Rub oil or lotion on your skin paying attention to how it feels
  • Hold an object that has a meaning such as a ring or a smooth stone from vacation and rub it, noticing how it feels.
  • Taste something good
  • Laugh
  • Go to your very own happy place
  • Perform some sort of movement for just 5 minutes, noting the difference
  • Focus on a sense of peacefulness, calmness, and freedom from worry
  • Pay attention to what we are physically experiencing other than our pain
  • Remember what it was like to feel our bodies move without pain

Our brains have neuroplasticity (they can change).

By using these techniques and many more in the Pain Processing Practice the structure of our brains will change.

That will make a difference in both our pain and fatigue levels.

What if you could…

 ✓ Wake up every morning pain-free and full of energy?

✓ Feel confident in your own abilities to control your own life?

✓Address the reasons that your pain, sleep, digestion, energy, weight, and mood aren’t where they used to be?

Our focus is understanding WHY we lose the pain-fatigue freedom we once had.  We help understand the causes behind your particular health situation.

What if you could have all of this without the overwhelm and stress of having to figure everything out on your own?

If so, then Pain Processing Practice is for you!  

To learn about how to be Pain Free at Last.

References

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Carroll, D. & Seers, K. (1998). Relaxation for the relief of chronic pain: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27, 476–487.

Carter, L (2004) The Anger Trap: Free Yourself from the Frustrations that Sabotage Your Life

Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2011). Mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain: A systematic review of the evidence. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(1), 83-93.

Duke, James A.  PhD, (2008) The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods 

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Greenberg DB. Clinical Dimensions of Fatigue. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2002;4(3):90–93. DOI:10.4088/pcc.v04n0301

Mills, W.W., & Farrow, J.T. (1981). The transcendental meditation technique and acute experimental pain. Psychosomatic Medicine, 43(2), 157-164.

Morone N.E., Lynch C.S., Greco C.M., Tindle H.A., & Weiner D.K. (2008). “I felt like a new person.” The effects of mindfulness meditation on older adults with chronic pain: Qualitative narrative analysis of diary entries. Journal of Pain, 9(9), 841-8.

Nicassio PM, Ormseth SR, Custodio MK, Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Weisman MH.A multidimensional model of fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol. 2012 Sep; 39(9):1807-13. Epub 2012 Jun 1.

Reynolds, G. (2013). Easing brain fatigue with a walk in the park. Retrieved September 9, 2018 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/easing-brain-fatigue-with-a-walk-in-the-park/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Rosenzweig, S., Greeson, J.M., Reibel, D.K, Green, J.S., Jasser, S.A., & Beasley, D. (2010). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: Variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 68(1), 29-36.

Salomons T.V., & Kucyi A. (2011). Does meditation reduce pain through a unique neural mechanism? The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(36), 12705-12707.

Teixeira, E.M. (2008). Meditation as an intervention for chronic pain: An integrative review. Holistic Nursing Practice, 22(4), 225-234.

Wachholtz, A.B., & Pargament, K.I. (2005). Is spirituality a critical ingredient of meditation? Comparing the effects of spiritual meditation, secular meditation, and relaxation on spiritual, psychological, cardiac, and pain outcomes. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 28(4), 369-384.

Wong, Y.S., Chan, W.F., Wong, L.R., Chu, M., Lam, Y.K., Mercer, S.W., & Ma, S.H. (2011). Comparing the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction and multidisciplinary intervention programs for chronic pain: A randomized comparative trial. Clinical Journal of Pain, 27(8), 724-734.

Ziedan, F., Martucci, K.T., Kraft, R.A., Gordon, N.S., McHafie, J.G., & Coghill, R.C. (2011). Brain mechanisms supporting the modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(14), 5540-5548. 

Zombolas T. & Yuan J. Food As Medicine: A Traditional Chinese Medical Perspective Authorhouse  2004)

 

 

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