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 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV


Managing Chronic Pain and Fatigue: The Quirky Balancing Act

Posted on September 27, 2019 at 1:35 PM



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I've been sick all week after returning from visiting my daughter and her family in Colorado. The altitude difference, 432 feet above sea level in Michigan to over 4,000 feet above sea level in Northern Colorado, got me. It made me feel like I was doing mild endurance exercise while I was there. This issue wasn't new. I've been there on several other occasions. Just before the return home, I noticed the difference in the Denver airport, a bit over 5,000 feet. I will say that my joints felt better in the dryer climate, but when I returned home to low-pressure cells and high humidity, ouch! My hands and feet throbbed. Not only that, I found myself ridiculously fatigued all week. I couldn't concentrate yesterday to finish the original blog post, so I had to claim a Sick Day. If you've missed some of the posts this week, that's what happened. It's been a sick week.


I want to conclude National Chronic Pain Month with a focus on the fatigue factor of pain. It can be very debilitating at times, causing the pain sufferer difficulty with day-to-day activities. Pain requires concentrated effort to keep going even when you hurt. The "alarm bell" of pain rings loudly, often. If you've ever been around when a loud alarm sounds for a long time, all you want is for it to STOP! That fight-or-flight response literally exhausts your body. Not only that, pain causes your body to self-protect. Working against self-protection requires more energy than usual. If the sufferer has an autoimmune disease or fibromyalgia, the pain isn't limited to joints. It affects muscles, fascia, and tendons. The disease process causes an overly active immune system response zapping your body of a lot of energy in a short amount of time. Think of it like when you've had the flu. All you want to do is sleep. It may cause muscle stiffness or cramping, which requires a lot of effort to get your body to cooperate! Lost sleep, or unrestful sleep, robs us of what we need to function the next day. Brain fog rolls in creating confusion during pain and fatigue.


So when considering chronic pain, it's nasty sister, chronic fatigue, tags along. You can manage your fatigue to be more productive than giving in to it. But you want to increase your quality of life, too. Here are a few of my personal helps:

1. Use work-rest intervals to accomplish necessary tasks. Some chores may need to be delegated while others may have to wait another day. My hubby took the laundry down to the basement from our bedroom upstairs. Now if only he remembered the dead mouse in the mousetrap!!!

2. Simplify your life by avoiding a heavy calendar full of appointments. I rarely set more than two significant dates in my schedule, like a doctor's visit or taking my mom out for shopping. I need the rest of my time to get my own tasks done and to rest.

3. Let friends, family, and coworkers know when you require help or rest. Of course, at work, you may have to disclose your illness. I revealed fibro early in the work relationship because I didn't need to be pushed beyond function. Some people save disclosure until absolutely necessary. If you can give them the "Heads Up" on your painful fatigue days, they can give you space to adjust your workload to balance with your health status for the day.

4. Use helpful devices to reduce pain and fatigue. I use a rolling computer bag because a heavy computer case on my shoulder presses on painful pressure points that cause me to feel worn down and dizzy. The roller bag also reduces stress on the joints of my hands so I can travel with ease. Some people need special grips to keep their hands from severe pain. I use full-finger weight gloves for weight training, so my hands don't fatigue out before the rest of me.

5. Get moderate exercise on good days, rest on the terrible ones. Last week I got in three great days of water exercise in the hotel pool and lots of walking. This week I could only do some basic tasks, so my Apple Watch isn't happy with my progress. So what? I needed to back off, so I don't end up worse.

6. If you can't function at all, declare a sick day. If you try to push through, you will only prolong and aggravate your health condition. Fibro sufferers can increase their pain by pushing though bad fatigue. I had to do that yesterday. Sorry, Everyone! Days like that are best-to-rest days.

7. Never make big decisions early into your bad fatigue days. Either you will overestimate or underestimate what you can handle. I always give myself the “Two Cups of Coffee and a Shower” rule. Then I can think more clearly even if I feel like crawling back in bed.


Yes, it would be easier to pull the covers over your head and say, "Forget it!!!" But healthy living starts with changing our attitude to an, "I can"attitude trusting God to carry you when you are too tired to carry yourself. Pain and fatigue can be managed to improve health and quality of life.


If you have some helpful tips for dealing with fatigue and pain, feel free to share in the comments below. May God bless you!

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