Fibromyalgia fatigue versus pain…….
If I had been asked which I thought was worse before being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I would have responded with pain.
Is fibromyalgia pain really worse?
Can fibro fatigue really be as debilitating as chronic pain?
Let’s take a look!
I was no stranger to pain prior to my fibromyalgia diagnosis. TMJ surgery, a c-section recovery that included an infected incision due to the wrong sutures being used, heavy and painful periods with occasional bursting ovarian cysts, a knee joint that had bone fragments stuck into it are a few examples. While each one was frustrating and painful, each pain had a cause and solution. Yet I clearly remember feeling like each situation would never end. If I had only known then, that someday I would be struck with pain that would never end……..
The difference between the pain I experienced before my fibro diagnosis and after is that they were single pains. My jaw, abdomen, and knee. With fibromyalgia, the pain may be constant, but it isn’t always in the same area or at the same intensity.
Fibromyalgia pain differs yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly. There is absolutely no way anyone could ever understand unless they have fibro or a similar chronic illness.
Fibromyalgia produces many types of physical pain.
Some are examples are:
Fibromyalgia can make your skin feel like it is raw or on fire. Muscles may feel like they have been beaten or are bruised. Joints ache. Each of these pains may affect one or two specific areas or your entire body.
Although levels may change, there is always some level of pain. Fibro pain becomes a way of life. Over time we forget what it was like to live without pain. It just becomes a way of life.
The effects of chronic physical pain from fibromyalgia are often debilitating.
Areas of our lives that fibro pain wrecks include but are not limited to:
- Social life
- Family life
Fibro pain triggers depression and anxiety. It makes us angry and short-tempered. Disbelieving family, friends, and physicians create distrust in those we used to trust without question.
“Before fibromyalgia, physical pain was something that indicated a problem and there was always an end to it. With fibro, physical pain never ends, it’s just life….”
~Cynthia Covert – The Disabled Diva
While it is true that I always experience some type of muscle, nerve, and joint pain on a daily basis, I have been successfully lowered the levels since my diagnosis 18 years ago. The key to living with fibromyalgia is to find an effective pain relief plan.
Keep in mind what works for one fibro patient may not help another! Some people do well following a pharmaceutical protocol. Others, like myself, feel better using a combination of natural and alternative pain relief approaches. And then there are those who have found comfort in a pain management plan that utilizes pharmaceutical, natural, and alternative treatments. No matter which route you choose, understand that there is NO one-size-fits-all pain management plan.
Not to be confused with tiredness, fibromyalgia fatigue is just as, if not more debilitating than pain. Not understanding the difference between being tired or fatigued is one reason I would have chosen pain as the worst. However, now after living with fibro for so long, I am leaning more towards fatigue being worse than the pain. This is not to diminish or make light of the pain that accompanies this wretched condition but to emphasize how horrific fatigue is. Tiredness can be fixed with a nap or good night’s sleep, fatigue cannot!
“Fatigue makes fools of us all. It robs us of our skills, our judgment, and blinds us to creative solutions.”
~ Harvey Mackay
One reason I consider fatigue to be worse than the pain is that depending on the pain there is often something I can do to lower the level or at least find some sort of comfort. But when overcome with fatigue, there is nothing, I repeat nothing that I can do except ride it out. I cannot snap out of it. There is NO pushing through.
The effect fatigue has on our lives is devastating. It affects our cognitive abilities making it difficult and sometimes impossible to make decisions, focus, or communicate. It truly makes fools of us!
Pain doesn’t always affect my brain, but fatigue does! Pain doesn’t stop me from writing and blogging. Fatigue has no mercy! There is no writing, no socializing in real life or online, no decision-making, just nothing.
It is easy to fall into the fatigue trap of feeling like the flare will never end. After having so many good spells over the past few years, the flares that returned last year caused me to panic. It takes a lot of deep breathing, meditation, prayer to remain calm. CBD calms anxiety and reduces how much my fatigue feeds on it.
Preparing for flare days will make getting through fatigue flares less stressful. I use Amazon’s Subscribe and Save to avoid forgetting items my family needs on a regular basis and Walmart Plus for grocery delivery.
But it was accepting the flare at the moment and catering to my body’s needs that made them easier to deal with. Relaxing and allowing my body’s strength to return as it is ready is what shortens the duration. Doing too much too soon increases time down. There is no way to completely avoid fatigue flares. There is only making the best of it or dying trying to fight.
At this point in my fibro life, my answer is that fatigue is worse than the pain it creates. Mind you, it took a decade to change my mind. When my pain was widespread and uncontrolled, it consumed my body and mind. It was only after finding pain relief tools and products that significantly reduced my pains that I was able to recognize the severity and effects of fatigue.
Your answer may differ. In fact, mine could change again in a year or two. That’s the most frustrating part of living with fibromyalgia, no two days are alike. There is no getting used to the pain or learning how to work around one or two limitations. It is a never-ending battle of figuring out what areas are in need of help, searching for relief, and constantly addressing them.
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