Persistent and chronic fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia, second only to the deep muscle pain and body aches. But unlike normal fatigue, the feelings of fatigue, weakness, and exhaustion that come with fibromyalgia can often lead to unending social isolation, even depression.
What Is Fatigue With Fibromyalgia?
Fatigue with fibromyalgia is described as crippling, exhausting, and flu-like. You may experience fatigue on arising, even after hours of bed rest. And many people with fibromyalgia have disturbances in deep-level or restful sleep, so the fatigue they feel is not easy to treat.
The fatigue with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) often coincides with mood disturbances, anxiety, or depression. People with fibromyalgia may describe their sleep as unrefreshing or light. Some people with fibromyalgia have pain and achiness around the joints in the neck, shoulder, back, and hips. This makes it even more difficult to sleep and worsens their daytime feelings of sleepiness and fatigue.
Experts theorize that there are similarities between fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a condition primarily characterized by ongoing, debilitating fatigue. Often, people with fibromyalgia describe the fatigue they feel as “brain fatigue.” They report a total loss of energy and difficulty concentrating, a condition called “fibro fog.”
What Are the Other Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
In addition to chronic fatigue, symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
- abdominal pain
- anxiety and depression
- chronic headaches
- dryness in mouth, nose, and eyes
- hypersensitivity to cold and/or heat
- inability to concentrate (called “fibro fog”)
- irritable bowel syndrome
- numbness or tingling in the fingers and feet
- painful menstrual cramps
- painful trigger points
- poor circulation in hands and feet (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- restless legs syndrome
Fibromyalgia can cause signs and feelings similar to what people experience with osteoarthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis. But unlike the localized pain with bursitis or tendinitis, the feelings of pain and stiffness with fibromyalgia are widespread.
Do Daytime Naps Help Fatigue With Fibromyalgia?
On good days, the fatigue with fibromyalgia may be tolerable with daytime napping. However, on bad days, when fibromyalgia symptoms flare, dealing with fatigue is quite difficult for both individuals with fibromyalgia and their loved ones. Even multiple rest periods throughout the day fail to provide relief from the chronic achiness, fatigue, and exhaustion.
How Can I Get Help With Fibromyalgia Fatigue?
Coping with the symptoms of fibromyalgia is difficult at best. And managing the chronic fatigue of fibromyalgia takes great effort and planning. You may feel like others don’t believe you when you are forced to cancel family gatherings or luncheons with friends because of the chronic fatigue with fibromyalgia. That’s why planning your schedule without making too many commitments may be helpful, especially when fibromyalgia symptoms flare.
Most fibromyalgia experts recommend talking to others about your specific fibromyalgia symptoms. Then, they will know your fibromyalgia is real — not something you’ve made up in your head. In fact, asking for help from your family, friends, employer, or coworkers is important. When you have help, you are better able to make it through the day, even with the limited energy you feel.
What Does Stress Have to Do With Fibromyalgia and Fatigue?
Reducing stress may give you a sense of control with fibromyalgia. Some experts believe that when people with fibromyalgia reduce their level of stress, they also experience a reduction in fatigue and anxiety. In addition, their sleep becomes more restful.
Can I Continue to Work With Fibromyalgia and Fatigue?
People with fibromyalgia who are able to work outside the home say they experience great stress on the job. Some say they fear they may be let go and be replaced by healthier, more qualified workers. Others are concerned because they are not able to perform the way they used to. Employers also report concern over the output of chronically ill patients. They cite reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, poor work quality, and increased workplace accidents. But if you stay mentally and physically able to handle your job responsibilities, you can continue to be a productive employee, even with fibromyalgia and fatigue.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia may wax and wane over time. You may, however, continue to experience muscle pain and fatigue. That doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. Here are actions you can take to help keep fatigue at bay:
- If your employer will allow it, put a cot in your office or workroom. Then allow yourself to take rest periods throughout the day, especially when symptoms flare and you are fatigued.
- Try to allow more time during the day to complete your responsibilities.
- Budget your time carefully to avoid procrastinating. Procrastination can increase your stress level when deadlines come around.
- Make daily “To Do” lists to remind yourself of the responsibilities you need to complete.
- Limit outside commitments on work days.
- Ask for help from coworkers when pain and fatigue are overwhelming. Pay them back with your assistance on days you feel better.
- Take periodic breaks to avoid getting overly tired or stressed during busy workdays.
- Listen to music during your workday to help keep your stress levels minimal.
- Talk to your doctor about medications for fibromyalgiathat may help improve sleep and ease fatigue.
- Fibromyalgia (onnurimedicine.me)
- Men With Fibromyalgia Often Go Undiagnosed, Mayo Clinic Study Suggests (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Fibromyalgia Diagnosis Often Missed in Men (nlm.nih.gov)
- Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia (therealfoodchannel.com)
- Help for Fibromyalgia-Related Fatigue? (everydayhealth.com)
- Treatments for Fibromyalgia (doylene.wordpress.com)
- From Fine to Feeling Better, a Fibromyalgia Book Review (painfighter.wordpress.com)
- Fibromyalgia and the New Year (cherryblossomzen.wordpress.com)