Living with Fibro

Fatigue & Fibromyalgia: Why Am I So Exhausted?

One of the most common symptoms of the condition of fibromyalgia is chronic and persistent fatigue. This symptom is second only to the widespread aches and pains.

The fatigue associated with fibromyalgia is much different than normal fatigue, in that when associated with fibro can lead to depression and social isolation.

Fatigue with Fibromyalgia

The fatigue associated with the condition of fibromyalgia is often described as exhausting, crippling, and even flu-like.

When you have fibro, you are likely to experience fatigue, even upon rising after hours of bed rest.

In addition, individuals with the condition of fibromyalgia also complain of disturbances that keep them from getting a restful sleep- so they have difficulty treating their fatigue.

In addition, the fatigue associated with the condition of fibromyalgia is often in conjunction with anxiety/depression and other mood disturbances.

Individuals with this condition describe their sleep as light and unrefreshing. In addition, individuals with fibro experience achiness and pain around the joints in their hips, neck, back, and shoulders.

This makes it harder to sleep, which increases fatigue- it’s a never-ending cycle.

Some experts have stated that there are some similarities between the conditions of chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, and fibro.

The condition of CFS is primarily characterized by debilitating and ongoing fatigue. The fatigue associated with fibro is often a “brain fatigue” also called “fibro fog.”

Other Fibromyalgia Symptoms

In addition to the chronic, debilitating fatigue, some of the other signs and symptoms of the condition of fibromyalgia include:

  • Depression/anxiety
  • Dryness in mucous tissues
  • Chronic headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypersensitivity to heat/cold
  • Abdominal pain
  • Numbness/tingling in feet/fingers
  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • Incontinence
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Poor circulation
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Tender points

The signs and symptoms of the condition of fibromyalgia are often very similar to those that people experience with the conditions of tendinitis, osteoarthritis, and bursitis. Unlike those conditions though, the signs and symptoms of fibro are widespread.

Naps and Fibro Fatigue

On their good days, individuals who have fibro fatigue may find that a nap during the day can help ease fatigue.

On the other hand, when it comes to their bad days, when their symptoms are flaring up, individuals with fibro and their loved ones may find that dealing with the fatigue is nearly impossible.

Even resting for multiple times during the day does not offer any relief from the exhaustion, fatigue, and chronic achiness.

Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

Coping with Fibro Fatigue

Of course, the truth is that coping with the signs and symptoms of fibro can be quite difficult.

Managing the fatigue associated with fibro takes some major planning and effort sometimes. When you’re forced to cancel your plans because you just can’t deal with it, you may begin to feel like others don’t believe you.

This is why it is necessary to make sure that you don’t overbook yourself when making your schedule.

When you don’t have a full schedule, you can manage your symptoms better when you do have a flare.

Most experts in the condition of fibro say that taking the time to talk to others regarding your symptoms can be helpful.

After all, this will help them to understand that your condition is a real one- not something you’ve dreamed up to avoid socialization.

In fact, taking the step to ask for help from coworkers, employers, family, and friends is critical for dealing with your condition.

When you have the help you need, you’re more likely to be able to meet your deadlines and commitments even with the limited energy you have.

Stress and Fibro Fatigue

One of the ways you can feel a sense of control with the condition of fibro is by taking steps to reduce stress levels.

Some fibro experts say that when an individual with fibro reduces their stress, they also reduce fatigue and anxiety- as well as find that they are able to get a good night’s sleep.

Working with Fibro Fatigue

Individuals with the condition of fibro who do work outside their homes report that they often experience extreme stress levels when working.

They often are afraid they will be fired and replaced by a more qualified, healthier person.

In other cases, they worry that they are unable to do their job like they were before they developed the condition.

On the other hand, employers often report that they are concerned regarding the output of employees who have a chronic illness including fibro.

They often state that they notice an increase in absences, a reduction in overall productivity, an increase in accidents in the workplace, and poor quality of work.

However, even when you have fibro and fibro fatigue and you are able to keep yourself mentally and physically able to handle your responsibilities, you can remain a productive employee- and keep your job!

The symptoms of the condition of fibro will get better and worse over time. However, you will most likely always experience the fatigue and widespread pain- but there are some things you can do to help yourself:

  • Ask your employer if it is possible to place a cot in your office/work area. Then, when your symptoms flare up and you feel fatigue coming on, allow yourself to take time out for rest.
  • Schedule yourself a bit more time to get things done during the day.
  • Avoid procrastination by budgeting your time more carefully- after all, procrastination will only increase your stress levels when deadlines come around.
  • Make a “to do” list each day to remind yourself of what needs to be done.
  • Limit any other commitments on days that you are working- this will allow you to go home and rest after work.
  • Ask for help when the fatigue and pain associated with fibro are more than you can or want to deal with. Then, when you’re feeling better, offer your assistance to those who helped you.
  • Take breaks during busy workdays to avoid becoming overly stressed or tired.
  • Listen to music to reduce stress levels.
  • Talk to your physician about ways to treat and manage your symptoms.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-fatigue

http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-pain-10/slideshow-pain-fatigue

About the author

Living with Fibro

11 Comments

  • My goodness. I have a dear friend who suffers from fibromyalgia, and she really has a hard time getting enough rest. As you’re saying in the article, it’s not that she doesn’t take care of herself and stays up late. She has a hard time sleeping because of the fibro.

    I had another friend a long time ago who had fibromyalgia, and it was before the disease was well-recognized. One of the worst things he had to deal with was the large number of people and doctors who didn’t believe the symptoms he was reporting.

    I’m glad there is a place where we can come to get more info about fibro. Hopefully I can learn more and either pass on some tips to my friend, ask her to check out the site, or understand more fully what she’s going through.

    🙂

  • I have been to my doctors about my condition and if I have fibro and said no did not ask any questions. I have 9 of the 13 symptoms listed above. I do not know where yo go help. If my doctor will not do anything who will?

    • Hi Barbara,

      Has your doctor done any tests to find out why you do get these symptoms? Often Fibro or CFS is diagnosed after many other illnesses with similar symptoms are ruled out. I would suggest seeing a different doctor, as not all understand Fibro.

      • I also have haemuchromatosis and my doctors put everything down to that. My ferritin level is down to 90 now but I don’t feel any better. The tiredness really gets me down so much so I feel like I just want to stay in bed and not get up.

    • I unfortunately had to go private to see a specialised rheumatologist for my diagnosis after fighting since 2008 .

    • You have to go to a different doctor who specializes in fibro. I bet I saw 10 drs before I found one that understood my symptoms.

  • This sounds very difficult to solve because if you are not feeling good at work then your employer won’t be happy and this will increase your anxiety, which will make you even less productive. It’s a vicious circle. I agree that finding a sympathetic boss will help, someone who can provide you with a place to nap etc. I’m wondering if alternative lifestyle choices like juicing can help. Some studies show that juicing etc does wonders for all sorts of ailments. What do you think?

  • Firstly, I take my hat off to anyone who holds down any kind of job whilst having Fibro of any degree. Such an illness has such unpredictable symptoms and one day can be better than the rest. Fatigue is really difficult, and also people might not understand that this ‘tiredness’ is completely different to the normal tiredness people feel from staying up too late or working a bit too hard.

    • I now work part time and it has become so much easier to cope. I can rest much more as well as not stress about financial worries. I would suggest to anyone battling fibro to cut hours to part time and try it x

  • I had an accident at work which resulted in chronic fatigue and bad sciatica also have prolapsed discs i have to get on with it sometimes the pain is unbearable other tines its ok when i rest but when i get up im in so much pain it really affects my lifestyle and commitmeoth promising to help others putting them first then not having physical and metal strngth to cope but still try keep the peace

  • I’ve been experiencing this fatigue for about a week and a it now. Missing out on day time but up all night with pain. Exhausted but unable to sleep. Waking buy feeling so tired like I haven’t slept and unable to get anything done. In pain and fatigue. My doctor has referred me to a rheumatologist but of course there’s a waiting list. In the meantime I’m in pain and fatigued and family don’t understand. I hope they read this article. It’s more than just tiredness

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