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The Link between Pain and Fatigue explained

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You often hear – or maybe you have experienced it yourself – that there is a connection between pain and fatigue. That your pain becomes more intense when you are tired, or the other way round: you become tired when you experience severe pain for a long period of time.

Research among 50,000 people in 15 European countries and Israel has shown that 20% of adults in Europe suffer from chronic pain. That represents a fifth of the population! Almost half of all UK adults may be living with chronic pain. For 60% of these patients, the chronic pain lasted from 2 to 15 years, for 21% it lasted even over 20 years. Back pain and joint pain are the most common and, in addition, the study proved that 34% of patients gave their pain a score of 8 or higher. In this case, 0 means no pain and 10 the worst pain you can imagine.

Physiotherapist and researcher Aleid de Rooij concludes after research that more attention to fatigue is important in the treatment of people with chronic pain. People who have chronic pain are more sensitive to new pain and also to fatigue. The nervous system is so distorted that even a minimal pain stimulus can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Also, fatigue causes you to have a lower pain threshold and to reach your limit much quicker, which makes you feel pain more intensely when you are tired.

Poor sleep due to pain

One of the reasons why there may be fatigue in (chronic) pain is that the pain causes you to be uncomfortable or because the pain keeps you from sleeping. You will not get enough rest, which causes sleep deprivation and fatigue. Another reason is that performing daily operations costs more energy when in pain. Your body gets exhausted. Cronic fatigue syndrome is when a person generally feels unwell and is extremely tired. It is called CFS/ME.

Symptoms of Cronic Fatigue Syndrome:

Although symptoms can vary from person to person, and the severity of symptoms can vary from day to day, or even within a day.

-A person may have sleeping issues such as insomnia they may feel muscle or joint pain

-Another common symptom of Cronic Fatigue is often having headaches

-Having a sore throat with out swollen glands

-Difficulty focusing and concentration

-Flu-like symptoms

-Feeling dizzy or sick-Fast or irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations)

New research from Stamford University published this year has found a link between chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and 17 markers of inflammation found in the blood — indicating that not only does the often-doubted condition have a real, biological basis, it may be diagnosable with a blood test.

Persistent pain can cause a lot of stress. Patients worry about the pain, they get frustrated that the pain impedes daily activities because they cannot do everything they want or have trouble accepting the pain. Learning to deal with prolonged or severe pain can cause a lot of stress, which results in fatigue. It takes a lot of energy and stress is often accompanied by high muscle tension, which also causes the muscles to become tired.

Do you have a lot of pain or does it occur often and are you tired? Then contact your doctor. He or she can refer you to a pain specialist.

Sources: Gallacher D. Survey of chronic pain in Europe: prevalence, impact on daily life, and treatment. Eur J Pain 2006;10(4):287-333 (11), NHS UK, Stamford Universtiy

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