Fatigue and Arthritis

senior arthritis fatigueMany seniors and older adults deal with arthritis pain every day, adding difficulty to their everyday activities. But along with pain, arthritis also causes a second problem: fatigue. It is actually a vicious circle – fatigue is a symptom of arthritis, as dealing with the pain every day can wear down an individual, however in turn being fatigued can increase the level of pain.

There are different causes of fatigue in adults with arthritis. First is the disease itself. The inflammation from arthritis has the same effect as being ill with, for example, the flu, and so there is fatigue. Side effects from medication are another common cause of fatigue, particularly in seniors who may take medications for other symptoms. Other causes may include anemia, which is a common side effect of arthritis, lack of sleep – sometimes caused by prescription medication, other medical conditions, and depression – the inability to perform daily activities, particularly hobbies which previously brought joy, can be very upsetting for most adults.

Treating fatigue through self-care is, however, possible. The first tip is to get active, which may feel like the last thing anyone with arthritis and fatigue wants to do, but a guide exercise program can actually aid both the arthritis through mobility, and the fatigue through released endorphins and better sleep. Second, plan your day around your energy levels. Acknowledging the limits of fatigue and planning to take breaks after an activity are important to not causing total burnout. And lastly, practice healthy habits at home, including eating well, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and keeping a regular sleep routine.

If managing the fatigue is too hard, or the symptoms get worse, speak to your doctor or specialist right away.