Living out our lives with the constant background noise of pain permeating our existence isn’t just uncomfortable... It’s inherently exhausting in every sense of the word.
When we suffer from chronic pain, our body’s systems are locked perpetually in hyperdrive; Doing double-duty as they try to fight the disease or illness causing the pain, whilst being in a constant state of alertness to danger as our nerves respond to the acute stimuli.
When you consider all of that stress for our bodies to deal with, then add on the expectation that we’ll be able to go about our daily lives in a semi-normal fashion:
We’re utterly exhausted just thinking about it.
Chronic Pain and Fatigue Go Hand-in-Hand
Why is chronic pain linked with chronic fatigue, you ask?
Fatigue is extreme tiredness - and unfortunately it can not be solved with a simple cat nap in the afternoon.
For many who live with unrelenting pain, fatigue sneaks up quickly and affects every aspect of their life.
When pain becomes chronic, it’s characterized by an ongoing duration that lasts longer than three months. And that’s a long time for your mind, body and soul to endure any torment.
It can be the result of an injury or surgery, persistent migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, infections, nerve damage, and even back pain. This list is obviously not all inclusive, as there are several reasons someone may be experiencing chronic pain.
The Neurobiological Toll
The alarming thing about chronic pain is that it can actually affect the brain’s neurobiology, making the experience of pain last even longer.
The pain can reciprocally move to other parts of the body from the original pain site, too. Over time, the body’s nervous system is altered after pain receptors become hypersensitive.
Something to Lose Sleep Over
When suffering from chronic pain, it’s difficult to fall or stay asleep. You can bet that tossing and turning to find a comfortable position affects sleep quality, and for some, this is a regular occurrence.
In some cases, it’s even the stress that comes from anticipating potential pain, or pondering the upcoming lack of sleep that can actually be contributing to the fatigue.
Stress and anxiety can additionally pile on, creating the perfect storm for an unsettled slumber.
If you’re waking up often during the night, important sleep cycles are disrupted. The third stage of sleep, or deep sleep, is crucial for cell rebuilding, repair and strengthening the immune system.
REM sleep doesn’t get a chance to take effect if you’re constantly bouncing between the lighter sleep cycles when roused by pain.
This REM sleep is when our emotional regulation, memory, and protein production phases take place, and are sorely missed by our bodies if we don’t get enough.
Lack of REM sleep affects our ability to handle stress, and disrupts protein synthesis for normal bodily functions.
Tiredness Lowers Our Pain Threshold
If that isn’t enough, poor quality sleep actually lowers our pain threshold and pain tolerance, making the discomfort feel even more acute than it is.
Without quality sleep, our bodies cannot repair themselves and over time become less capable at fighting inflammation from injury, illness, or infection.
All this added stress on our systems adds up, as our bodies are locked in a heightened tango of danger aversion, combined with a lack of its much-needed restoration processes.
This can amplify pain signals, put too much strain on our bodies and stress out our minds, creating an exhausting cocktail of fatigue.
How Can We Claim Our Vitality Back Despite All This?
Managing this exhausting cycle can become a draining full-time job if left unchecked, so interrupting the vicious cycle before it takes hold is the most effective, proactive approach.
Stop the roller coaster of pain and fatigue in its tracks by implementing some self-care measures, and tending to them religiously.
While it might seem like a whimsical concept, the sooner you can give your body the space to rest, recharge and repair, the sooner it’ll be armed to address the source of chronic pain.
Your system will be better equipped to heal itself, your pain tolerance will increase, and you’ll be well on your way toward an upward curve of overall wellness and freedom from pain.
What Are Some Practical Solutions?
Breaking the pain-fatigue cycle isn’t rocket science, but it does require a release of resistance of sorts.
By adopting the concept that we’re not passengers along for the ride on our chronic pain, but rather that we’re taking charge of our rehabilitation through gentle, attentive care; we can go back to basics and start the important process.
Here’s the first steps for busting through fatigue:
1. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to retrain your brain that it’s time to repair and recharge.
2. Try Some Gentle Exercise if You Can Manage It
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel if you’re already absolutely spent at the end of the day. Try some calming stretches, gentle yoga, or a relaxing walk in nature to give your body an uplifting release of endorphins.
This will also help tire out your frazzled nerves, so you can sleep more soundly when bedtime arrives.
3. Don’t Feel Guilty for Recharging When You Require It
Showing your body that you’re listening to what it’s telling you sets the stage for powerful healing processes within your physiology.
While it may feel indulgent to enjoy a massage, this variety of pampering is deeply therapeutic.
You’ll release tension in tight muscles, encourage important lymphatic drainage to remove toxins from your body, and stimulate blood flow to accelerate healing.
Try a recharge session with the Shiatsu Foot Massager and feel encouraging results throughout your body and mind.
The kneading & rolling helps to relieve tension & fatigue in your feet, and subsequently the rest of your body, using traditional shiatsu & reflexology therapy.
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4. Eat Light at Night
Avoid eating heavy meals too late at night, which could commandeer your body’s metabolic functions and focus all your body’s energies on digesting, rather than repairing while you sleep.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain that’s zapping your vitality and interfering with your quality of life, we feel you.
Don’t forget to go easy on yourself, because you’re doing your best in a tough situation.
Speak to your care provider about options for pain management that could help fight fatigue, take steps to get the restorative sleep your body needs to thrive, and treat your body with soothing release of tension through plenty of self care.
Wishing you an uplifting and enjoyable rest, just the way you deserve.
Slabway Wellness Contributor