The Holiday Season Can Really Wipe You Out When You’re Already Experiencing Fatigue From Arthritis Try This Advice To Restore Your Energy
Joint pain you expect. Stiffness and swelling, too. But with rheumatoid, psoriatic, and other kinds of inflammatory arthritis, theres another symptom thats just as common, but much less tangible: chronic fatigue.
Fatigue in inflammatory arthritis is different than just being tired or a little worn out. Fatigue is a more overwhelming feeling, a deeper sense of slowing down that can be tough to define.
Some patients describe it as not feeling like doing much, says Elena Schiopu, MD, a rheumatologist at the Michigan Medicine Rheumatology Clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Others say its falling asleep all day long, at the drop of a hat.
Research shows as many as 80 percent of people with RA report chronic fatigue. Experts believe inflammatory arthritis activates inflammatory proteins in the body, which not only cause pain but also fatigue.
Much like influenza, when the body is fighting the viral burden with increased inflammation, deep muscle aches and fatigue are present, explains Dr. Schiopu, who also serves as associate professor of rheumatology and internal medicine at the University of Michigan.
Fatigue can come and go in bouts one day you feel fantastic and ready to do it all the next day you cant get yourself out of bed. That unpredictability can make arthritis fatigue a tough symptom to manage. And its not a symptom that others who havent experienced it can easily understand or empathize with.
Strategies To Boost Your Energy
Any plan to fight fatigue begins with taking good care of yourself. Start with these tips to help you manage chronic RA fatigue and regain energy.
1. Talk to your doctor about controlling RA inflammation. You dont need to battle fatigue on your own working with your doctor to get any underlying RA-related inflammation under control can help significantly. Cytokines proteins produced by cells can amplify inflammation, which may have a direct influence on brain receptors to cause fatigue. So the first step is to work with your rheumatologist to get inflammation under control,” Ali says. “Medications that decrease inflammation often decrease fatigue.”
Get Help For Depression
Mood disorders like depression take a toll on energy levels, and they commonly occur in people with chronic pain conditions. In fact, research has shown that nearly three-quarters of those with RA were depressed.
Left untreated, depression may lead to more severe arthritis symptoms, including greater arthritis pain and fatigue. Other conditions, such as obesity, obstructive sleep apnea and anemia may also contribute to fatigue, adds Dr. Schiopu.
While depression, sleep disorders, and other factors could be linked to inflammatory arthritis, they may also be independent conditions that patients have, she says. Your doctor may screen for these and other conditions to find the root cause, and then determine the best treatment.
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Helping People Around You Understand Fatigue
Fatigue is a major symptom of many conditions, such as arthritis often its as much of a problem as pain and inflammation. But its an invisible symptom and a lot of people avoid talking about it because they think their family, friends and colleagues wont understand.
It can be stressful if you think people around you dont understand how youre feeling. Even when you explain, some people may struggle to realise how fatigue affects you and that it stops you doing certain activities. This can be frustrating and tiring and can put a big strain on your relationships. Getting help, support and understanding from the people around you can make a huge difference.
Good communication and explaining clearly and calmly how fatigue affects you is important to help others understand.
Its ok to say that you need help with tasks around the home.
Learning to say you cant do something or go somewhere because of the way it will affect you can help. It may also reassure people that sometimes you just dont feel up to socialising and its no reflection on their company.
If people ask for your help with something, remember its ok to say no. Its ok to put yourself first.
If you find it difficult to talk about your fatigue, you could ask people to read this information.
What Do Ra Fevers Feel Like
For some people with RA, periods of active disease may bring many systemic symptoms including fatigue, appetite loss, and low-grade fever alongside the typical joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. This fever may be accompanied by other unpleasant, flu-like feelings.
One myRAteam member described fever as one of the symptoms they experience during a flare: I started having a flare-up, they wrote, adding that they had started to feel the deep-down bone ache, the never-ending exhaustion, and fever. As another member shared, fever seemed to exacerbate other RA symptoms: The low fevers seem to magnify the pain for me miserable.
Some myRAteam members have fevers that last for consecutive days. Does anyone else get random fevers that last, say, an evening or two? wrote one member. It lasted two separate evenings in one week, then I felt better the next morning.
This member went on to describe the frequency and duration of their fevers: I have the fever about once every month or two. Itll go from 101 to 103. It will last about 10 or 12 hours, then the fever breaks, and Im OK. Another member found that their fevers have lasted even longer, asking others, Has anyone else had a problem with running a fever for weeks at a time?
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Consequences Permeate Every Sphere Of Life
The consequences of fatigue permeate every part of life such that activities are reduced to a minimum or âdumbed downâ: âIt affects everything. It sort of dumbs down everything that I want to do reallyâ . Participants struggled to carry on with work, leisure, and household activities: âWell, I’ve always liked to go out to dancing, and liked night clubs, and now I find I just don’t have the energy to do that any moreâ âWhen I get home I feel as though I’ve done a week’s, what I should have done in a week, and we’ve just gone and got some groceries. I mean my husband brings it in and unpacks it and puts it all away, which I would normally do and I just collapse on a chair. It just, I don’t know, it just don’t seem rightâ .
Can Physical Activity Help To Lessen Fatigue
Some people who have try to get fitter by doing gentle physical exercise, with the aim of fighting the exhaustion that way. A number of different activities are well-suited for this, including stretching and strengthening exercises, yoga, tai chi, brisk walking, cycling, water aerobics and swimming. These activities may also be done in specialized exercise therapy.
An analysis summarizing the research on different types of exercise shows that physical activity can help reduce . About 15 out of 100 people felt less exhausted after exercising. It’s still not clear what form of exercise would be most suitable, though.
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Reason : Its A Byproduct Of Ra
Eighty percent of RA patients experience significant fatigue. The reason: RA causes the body to make inflammatory proteins, called Tumor Necrosis Factor, or TNF, and weve known for a very long time that they cause fatigue,, says Jonathan M. Greer, M.D., a rheumatology and internal medicine specialist in Palm Beach County, FL, and assistant clinical professor of medicine at both Nova Southeastern University and the University of Miami. But that doesnt mean all is lost. A Rheumatology study found that patients receiving anti-TNF therapies experienced clinically important improvements in RA-related fatigue.
Schedule Naps Into Your Day If You Can
Renee A., 40, says that her fatigue comes in spurts. Some days, I wake up feeling like I can conquer the world other days I wake up feeling like a Mack truck hit me, she says. Its very difficult and it requires a lot of mental fortitude. Renee home-schools her three children and says she sometimes holds lessons in her bedroom or on the couch, which allows her to rest. If Renee doesnt take time to nap or even sit for a while, then her fatigue and other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms flare up and she feels much worse, she says. I have learned that the hard way, Renee says.
If you dont work from home, or if your schedule is packed with Zoom meetings and tight deadlines, then you may not be able to nap whenever you feel exhausted. However, if you can, lying down even for a few minutes after work may be helpful. Creaky Joints volunteer Eileen D., 35, says taking a short nap can make a big difference in her energy levels. Sometimes I need to have a quick rest. Just 20 minutes can be a lifesaver, she tells SELF. Sleeping for too long can make you feel groggyand make fatigue worseso its a good idea to nap for 1020 minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may recommend you to a physical or occupational therapist who can teach you stretching and strengthening exercises to help keep your joints flexible while also stretching and strengthening your muscles. In addition, the therapist will also most likely provide you with suggestions on how to modify certain activities that exacerbate Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, such as avoiding repetitive work with your wrists and elbows.
Reason : Finances Are Stretched
Feeling pain in your wallet is exhausting, too. Dont be shy about asking for help with medication costs. Many pharmaceutical companies have programs to assist patients who use their medicines, says Dr. Hylland. For instance, the treatment Xeljanz offers a co-paying card that helps offset the cost of the medication. Also, explore discount programs like Good Rx. And inform your doctor. He can sometimes tailor a less expensive program for you or direct you to social workers who can help find organizations that assist in costs of medicines, Dr. Hylland says.
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What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue
Rheumatoid Arthritis fatigue is a weariness that rest cannot cure. It is tiredness without the benefit of the pleasure of activity. Over 90% of RA patients report fatigue as a symptom. It is counted second only to pain as the greatest difficulty of living with RA.
Unlike normal fatigue, pathological fatigue does not improve with rest. This kind of fatigue is seen in most acute and chronic inflammatory diseases, including arthritis
Where does this weariness come from? What causes us to feel precisely like Superman with Kryptonite pushed in his face? Does anybody know?
The Impact Of Fatigue On Work & Career
Employment is an important part of providing for our family and loved ones. For some, their jobs and careers are a part of their identities. But when fatigue is a constant, its increasingly challenging to show up physically or even mentally. 55 percent agreed* that fatigue interferes with their responsibilities.
Because symptoms like fatigue are sometimes invisible, many in the community often feel misunderstood by their employer. As one person shares, I gave up my job because my employer did not understand or care about this disease with few physical signs to the normal person.
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How Do People Cope With Exhaustion
Many people gradually come to learn how to regulate their energy better and to accept the changes associated with the condition. They pay more attention to their body’s signals and then adjust what kinds of activities they do based on their symptoms.
As well as the phases where the arthritis gets much worse, there are also periods where it’s possible to live a quite normal life. It often helps to start seeing the condition as a part of your life and to set new goals that you can still achieve anyway. Some people say that the disease has helped them to live their lives more consciously.
Many mention in interviews that they’ve discovered practical ways of dealing with :
- Learn to say “no” sometimes
- Don’t plan to do too much at once
- Reconsider and adapt your goals
- Plan activities carefully, take your time, spread out demanding tasks across the week.
- Take breaks before you become too exhausted
- Get to bed early, take naps and learn relaxation techniques
- Avoid going out at busy times of the day, for instance when you go shopping or on a trip
- Talk with others about your disease so that they can better understand how it affects you
- Talk to others who have rheumatoid arthritis so that you can learn from their experiences
Share Your Experiences With Family And Friends If You Feel Comfortable Doing So
When she really isnt up to meeting friends or family, Elisa prioritizes her health over social engagements and virtual events, instead of trying to push through the fatigue. She finds that people are more understanding when she explains why she needs to cancel plans at the last minute. I used to try to not talk about my rheumatoid arthritis very much and just come up with some reason that I needed to go home or to cut plans short, she explains. But Elisa says constantly coming up with excuses was exhausting too. Now shes just honest. I try to take the approach that I do a disservice to those around me when I dont want to share my journey, she says. Im okay with saying, I know its only 10:30 in the morning, but Ive got to shower and lie down for an hour.
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Try To Keep A Reserve Of Meals And Supplies That You Can Use On Days When You Need Extra Rest
, 38, is a mom of three, and she says juggling the demands of motherhood and her rheumatoid arthritis fatigue can be tough. Shes found that meal prepping and reserving special toys that keep her kids entertained for longer give her more time to rest on particularly tiring things.
When I’m feeling up to it, I cook big-batch meals and put some in the freezer for days when I have less energy, she tells SELF. Mariah also keeps a cupboard full of quiet activities and crafts that her kids can work on if she needs extra rest time. We also use a system of toy rotation, where about one-third of our toys are out in the playroom and two-thirds are off-limits in a closet, she says. So on days when I am in pain or have less energy, I can bring out new toys that will keep the kids’ attention longer because they haven’t been played with for a while.
Eat Breakfast Every Day
Your mother likely harped on this when you were a small child. Guess whatMom was right. When you first wake up, your blood sugar is low. Eating a proper breakfast can serve as an energy booster. Skipping breakfast drains your energy, contributing to the fatigue problem. It’s important to eat nutritiously at every meal but focus on breakfast to start your day off right.
Other Sources Of Fatigue
Your fatigue is not always directly related to your arthritis disease activity, inflammation or pain. In fact according to a 2017 study published inCurrent Rheumatology Reports your fatigue level probably has more to do with other contributing factors, including obesity, physical inactivity, sleep disturbance and depression. Several of them may work together to cause your extreme tiredness, but identifying and treating even one of these factors can provide relief.
Check For Thyroid Issues
RA is, as you know, an autoimmune disease. People with an autoimmune condition are more likely to develop another autoimmune condition. One of those conditions that often pairs up with RA is thyroid disease, says Dr. Cappelli. Low thyroid activity, hypothyroidism, causesyou guessed itfatigue. Its reasonable to ask your doctor for a blood test to check for hypothyroidism, she says, even if you dont have some of the other symptoms of the condition, including weight gain, constipation, dizziness, muscle cramps, a hoarse voice, and dry, scaly skin.
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Ra Fatigue: How Do I Control Chronic Fatigue From Ra
Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating condition that causes a wide range of symptoms. One of the most prevalent symptoms experienced in suffering from rheumatoid arthritis is chronic fatigue. Fighting fatigue for rheumatoid arthritis patients seems like an ongoing uphill battle.
For those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, feelings of fatigue and constant tiredness can make it difficult to get through each day. But there are some ways to help beat fatigue, stay alert, and feel more rested and happy.
How To Manage Ra Fatigue
You may need a mix of treatments, lifestyle changes, and a new attitude to keep fatigue under control.
Recognize that fatigue is a part of life with RA. You cant always control it or predict when youll be too tired to work or join a social event. Listen to your body. Youll feel better if you take the time to rest when you need to. Take breaks if you have a task that takes a lot of energy.
Tune out the guilt. Your friends and family may not really get how bad you feel. You arent lazy. Youre exhausted by your arthritis. Dont feel guilty if you have to rest instead of going out or leave early because youre too tired. Explain that fatigue is a symptom of your disease.
Dont push yourself to keep up with everyone else. If you need help with household chores that exhaust you, ask others to give you a hand. Cut out any steps you dont need to complete a task. Set your own pace. You decide what you can and cant do on days when fatigue is high.
Get regular exercise. The last thing you may want to do is work out. But studies show that aerobic activity — the kind that makes your heart beat faster — cuts fatigue in people who have an immune system disorder like RA.
Exercise also strengthens the muscles around your joints, keeps your bones strong, and boosts your mood.
Try to do something, even if its just stretching, on days when youre really tired.
Two or three short periods of downtime may give you the boost you need.
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