Chronic Pain And Fatigue: Coping Techniques

Written by: Rujusmita Selvan M.Sc (Clinical Neuropsychology)
Last updated date : January 14, 2023

Having enough energy to move forward can be tough when you’re dealing with chronic pain and fatigue. You likely spend most of your time just trying to get through your day, and without the energy left to do anything else, you may be frustrated as you try to plan for the future. Understanding coping with chronic pain and fatigue, can help you know what to do next.

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Chapter 1:

What Is Fatigue?

Before we go any further, it is important to know what is fatigue and what is simply being tired. Fatigue means that on a regular basis, you’re weak and lacking energy. Simply being tired after a long day of work is normal. However, It is not normal, though, if you wake up exhausted even after you’ve slept for a full night or you continually find it hard to have the energy for activities you enjoy. If you find your fatigue lasts longer than a week, it may be time to consult with your doctor.

Chapter 2:

What Is Chronic Pain And Fatigue?

Let us have a look at Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is a condition that causes:
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Feeling Dizzy
  • Lack of refreshment after sleep

The causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not fully known. It is said that psychological stress, viral infections and various other factors contribute to it. This condition can affect anyone. However, it is most commonly seen among women during their middle adulthood. There is a proper cure for this condition in the medical world. But, with making changes to one’s lifestyle, undergoing therapy and taking medications. Many people who live with chronic fatigue also deal with chronic pain, and there’s a reason for that. Continually fighting pain exhausts your body because pain makes it hard to rest completely. Pain can usually be a result of inflammation that takes a toll on your body or an untreated health problem. Often simply finding better ways to treat your illness and manage your pain can help to ease the fatigue you feel day after day.

Chapter 3:

Why Are Coping Techniques Important In Chronic Pain And Fatigue?

If you are suffering from a chronic pain condition, you have felt the achy, draining nature of fatigue. Feeling fatigued for a longer period can even be a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is normal people experience fatigue from time to time, chronic pain and fatigue is defined as a consistent exhaustion or lack of energy that lasts at least 6 months. Therefore, it is recommended to adopt for coping techniques to deal with chronic pain and fatigue.

If you’re living with fatigue and exhaustion on a daily basis, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor. The two of you can discuss your current medications (which could be causing your fatigue) and your dosage schedule. Sometimes splitting doses or taking the same medication by injection on the weekends can help to fight the fatigue. You may also want to discuss supplements with your doctor. Taking probiotics could help you deal both with the pain and your fatigue levels, as might vitamin D. Even investigating your sleep cycle can help quite a bit.

After you talk to your doctor, you may want to try a few other things. First, don’t overdo it when you have a good day. If you feel good, keep in mind that your energy level may still be in short supply, and overdoing it will make your next bad day far worse. Knowing your limitations can help you avoid overdoing it.

Chapter 4:

How to Cope with Chronic Pain and Fatigue?

First let’s begin with understanding the main symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue that affects the normal functioning of the person:
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Poor Diet
  • Certain medications

Counteracting These Symptoms

Sleep Disturbances
Individuals with chronic pain may find it especially difficult to get into a comfortable sleeping position or to stay asleep through the night when muscles or joints are sore or linger with pain. Tossing and turning in bed, or waking up repeatedly is a reality for many chronic pain warriors, leading to grogginess that carries throughout the day.
For Coping with Chronic Pain, we can start by improving on what is often called “sleep hygiene” techniques. Establishing a clear sleep routine is a great way to start better sleeping habits that will help get your body and your mind ready for bed.
  1. Use your bedroom only for sleep instead of for TV, reading, etc., and go to bed only when you’re sleepy.
  2. Start relaxing, calming activities before bed.
  3. Get out of bed if you cannot sleep, and do a quiet activity.
  4. Set your alarm to get up at the same time every morning.
  5. Avoid napping.
  6. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco before bed.
  7. Don’t exercise right before bed.
  8. Adjust your bedroom to accommodate better sleep: hot/cold temperature, less light, no sound.
Physical Inactivity and Obesity
For coping with Chronic Pain, exercise is tricky for people with chronic pain and fatigue. Who wants to lace up sneakers when you can barely get out of bed? It’s about striking a balance. A little bit of physical activity, every day, is one of the best things you can do to combat fatigue and increase your energy. But too much can exacerbate joint pain and leave you lying on the couch for the rest of the day. Find your happy medium by listening to your body and stopping when you start to feel tired.
It is recommended to do low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and biking, along with range-of-motion exercises to build muscle and keep your joints flexible.
Poor Diet
Not getting adequate and healthy food and fluids in one’s diet can be a subtle, longer-forming cause of fatigue. Your body needs plenty of water and a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals to operate efficiently. Relying on junk food and an insufficient amount of water can cause one’s fatigue to be directly stemming from dehydration and vitamin deficiency.
Inflammation is an underlying problem in inflammatory types of arthritis and what you eat may help manage it. Reduce or eliminate processed foods, sugary sweets, salty snacks, and fast food. Eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and clean proteins.
  • This may be common sense to the rest of humanity, but I’ve spent most of my life in a state of normalized dehydration. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I drink water. It’s as though everyone else telling me I was crazy for not drinking more of it was right.
  • Cut out caffeine except for that one cup of coffee per day.
  • Reduce alcohol, with rare exceptions.
  • Cutting down on sugar as much as possible. It’s in a lot of foods, and I do put a spoon in my coffee, but I have eliminated desserts and snacks that have sugar.
  • Taking a robust probiotic daily.
Certain Medications
Common medications such as certain antidepressants, blood pressure medications and pain relievers would increase the symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are using. When you start taking a new medication, track its effectiveness over a period of time, or when side effects such as chronic pain and fatigue begin to creep up.
Connect with others
Chronic pain has a tendency to make you feel alone and misunderstood. While it’s true that some people may not grasp the extent of it, no doubt if they are true friends they will love you all the same. Connecting to friends who accept me despite the current limitations has been really important in helping me out of my foggy isolation. I also appreciate friends and the three readers named Rachel who have been willing to share their experiences with chronic pain and immune disorders. As humans, we are wired for connecting to others and it’s times like these that we need to remind ourselves to do so.
Use the “Spoon Theory” When Talking To Loved Ones
The “spoon theory” states that every time you do something, you remove a spoon. People with chronic illnesses start each day with fewer, smaller spoons than healthy people, and everyday tasks require more spoons when you have chronic illness than when you don’t. You can run out of spoons and energy much more quickly than those around you.
Take Breaks from Your Phone
Technology can be a catch-22 when it comes to resting. Playing Candy Crush, watching Netflix, or surfing the web may feel like a good way to wind down but it’s not real rest and may even make you more anxious. In addition, the blue light emitted from phone, tablet, and laptop screens can also mess up your sleep. “Don’t use screens within an hour of bedtime”.

Chapter 5:

Call To Action

In conclusion, find ways to distract yourself from pain so you enjoy life more. When you focus on pain, it makes it worse rather than better. Instead, find something you like doing an activity that keeps you busy and thinking about things besides your pain. You might not be able to avoid pain, but you can take control of your life.

While these practices may not completely rid a chronic pain patient of fatigue, it is good to know the major culprits that lead to the accentuation of this common symptom. Making the necessary changes to live a healthier life should be ideal for anyone managing fatigue when struggling with a chronic pain condition. Pain management is all about maintenance, and improving one’s life despite nagging symptoms is certainly a part of that.

Always remember that you’re not alone. Support from your family can make your condition easier to bear by spending time with you on good days as well as the bad days.

"Completed at my own pace, great online learning!" Venus

99 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount