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Fighting Fatigue and Brain Fog with Chronic Pain

Updated on March 26, 2014

Finding Balance

Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia have a multitude of symptoms. Once you get past the list of side effects from biologics, chemo and nsaids, there is still a large list of symptoms left untreated because pain usually hits the top of the list.

Mouth sores, random swelling, hives, skin disorders, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue and of course brain fog. Some refer to it as pain brain. In fighting fatigue most would automatically think- get more rest- but that's actually not always the best answer. Plus with all the other symptoms in tow, sometimes extra rest is truly impossible.

Technology has brought earlier detection and diagnosis, therefore the face of autoimmune diseases have changed. Having the "rheumatism" as my grandparents called it, is now found in children (Juvenile Arthritis). This is great news! Right? Well, possibly.

Whether it is lack of beside manner or strictly medical standard practice, I can't answer. Knowing what you have is half the battle, but taking care of yourself is a whole different matter. The handbook wasn't delivered to the front door. The main issue, these diseases are not specific to the elderly. Many, many people are diagnosed every day- given anti inflammatory medicines and expected to find their own way.

Daily life has changed. Now you have a lifelong diagnosis, pain you can't imagine and you still need to do the laundry, be at work on time and help with homework. You can't stay in bed all day. It will only make you feel worse. "Rest and exercise", "Find a low stress job"-These are standard answers. But that's not reality.

Finding balance between what your daily life needs from you and what your body is willing to give, that is the answer. Learn your limitations and adjust.

Listen to your body, it will give you the warning signs of fatigue
Listen to your body, it will give you the warning signs of fatigue

Morning tips for fighting fatigue

  1. Allow yourself extra time in the morning. Set your alarm clock a little bit earlier than usual
  2. Prepare the night before(set out your clothes, pack lunches, get your keys and gear together)
  3. Start stretching before you even get out of bed (start getting your stiff body warmed up and moving)
  4. Water. Water. Water. The quicker you get started the better

Fatigue and Frustration

Your body is attacking it self. Let me give that to you one more time. Your body is attacking itself. No wonder you are exhausted. The constant battle your systems are having inside you do not allow your body to rest and recover at night as it should. That's just the beginning, in the mean time your hormones are sending out warning signals to your brain...PAIN! PAIN! So naturally, your body is also keeping itself awake with it's built in warning system.

If you can't sleep, don't lay there frustrated and fight it. Get up, go to a different room, read a bit, do a crossword then try to go back to sleep. It's frustrating but taking yourself out of the room and back again may help calm your brain.

Finding the road to wellness with chronic pain
Finding the road to wellness with chronic pain

Vitamin levels and Fatigue

Request a vitamin level test. A routine blood test that is not overly expensive, you would be amazed what you can find. Many symptoms that automatically send you to an allergist or end up with a shot of steroids are actually vitamin deficiencies (hives, swelling, insomnia)

Particularly, Vitamin B and Vitamin D can affect your fatigue and thought process. With autoimmune finding a vitamin regimen can be a battle in itself. You don't want to go downing all the O.J and immune system builders you can find. In fact, that can just cause you more grief.The point of most medications designed to help fight autoimmune disorders are to specifically lower your immune system enough to stop your body from attacking itself.

Vitamin B

  • Think protein sources; meats, fish, nuts
  • Helps balance mood
  • Helps energy levels
  • Deficiencies can lead to hives, fatigue,attention deficits and anemia symptoms

Vitamin D

  • Think leafy greens, mushrooms, fish and Sunlight (don't head to the dairy aisle- veggies are the better choice for digestion and fighting fatigue)
  • Helps keep your bones strong
  • Deficiencies can lead to osteoporosis, and insomnia

Getting through the day with fatigue

  1. Take a lap around the office. If you aren't moving much you will get stiff and then you won't want to move at all.
  2. High energy snacks (Do: nuts, protein bars, yogurt. Don't: carbs, caffeine, energy drinks)
  3. Cat nap? If it works for you- just make sure it's short or you won't sleep at night
  4. Have 2 of every day needs,keeping a set at work to save yourself the daily haul (heating pad, vitamins, medicines)
  5. Water. Water. Water


  1. Routine is key, get yourself prepped for the next day
  2. Use 15 minute increments for household chores, take a break if you need to. Some nights it may only be 1- 15 minute time frame on the list
  3. Make a "to-do" list for the next day
  4. Take 20 minutes of ME time before bed (quietly and with purpose- read, take a hot bath or shower, paint your toenails, meditate etc)

Warning Signs of Fatigue
Lack of concentration
Lower background noise
Feeling sleepy
Take a short walk
Body aches
Try a glass of water first
Pay attention to the signals your body is giving you
Pay attention to the signals your body is giving you

Exercising Your Mind

Squirrel!? Did you find your ketchup in the cabinet and your washcloth in the refrigerator? Missing those keys again but they are still in your hand? Try these to keep your thought process moving

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Puzzle or word games
  • Memory games

Welcome to pain brain

The confusion, lack of thought process and sometimes down right confusion caused by the battle going on inside your body.

Tips for lifting the fog


Pamper yourself and find some time just for you. Don't get too excited, between kids and jobs and soccer practice you won't be able to have a daily massage. But, finding a few minutes here helps find your new balance.

  • Reading
  • Meditation
  • Music

Reduce Distractions

Over-stimulation can pull your mind in many directions. Try to reduce background noise at work (get permission for your needs). Turn off the television during dinner. Turn down the radio in the car. Help yourself concentrate on the task at hand. Whether you are at work, at the baseball game or have a day of errands- dress for your needs. A long day becomes eternal if your shoes hurt your feet or your pants are too tight.

  • Turn on a fan
  • Listen to music on headphones
  • Wear comfy clothes
  • Take notes, use apps for lists


Reduce Distractions
High energy snacks
Make Lists
Plan ahead
Diet rich in Vitamin B and D
Reduce background noise
Allow extra time
Comfy clothes

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