CRPS & Fatigue

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition that most often affects one of the extremities (the hand, arm, feet, or leg). It is characterized by intense burning pain, swelling, tenderness, and changes in skin color. CRPS typically develops after a minor injury or physical trauma and is thought to be caused by damage to the nervous system.

The condition can be extremely painful and may lead to changes in sensation, mobility, and overall quality of life. CRPS is also associated with persistent fatigue – making simple everyday activities difficult.

Cause of Fatigue in People with CRPS

There are many potential causes of fatigue in people with CRPS, but the exact cause is still unknown. One theory suggests that fatigue is a result of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, leading to swelling, pain, and fatigue.

Another possible explanation is that the constant pain associated with CRPS can disrupt your sleep pattern and make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. This can leave you feeling exhausted during the day.

The high levels of stress and anxiety that often accompany chronic pain can also contribute to fatigue. When stressed, your body releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can eventually lead to feelings of lethargy, exhaustion, and general tiredness. 

Additionally, CRPS can significantly impair your ability to participate in regular physical activity. This lack of regular physical activity or exercise can lead to deconditioning and depressed mood, culminating in chronic fatigue.

Last but not least, certain medications used to manage CRPS pain, such as tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants, can also cause fatigue as a side effect.

How to Manage CRPS-Induced Fatigue

If you have CRPS, here are a few tips to help ease CRPS pain and fatigue:

  1. Get plenty of rest: When you’re living with constant pain, it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep. However, it’s important to get as much rest as possible. Fatigue can make your pain worse, so it’s essential to try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your sleep habits.
  2. Exercise regularly: Exercise can help reduce pain, prevent deconditioning, and improve your overall sense of well-being. It’s crucial to find an exercise routine that works for you and stick with it. Remember to pace yourself and stick to low-impact exercises that don’t aggravate your pain.
  3. Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can help reduce inflammation, reduce fatigue, and improve your overall energy levels. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You should also limit your intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
  4. Take breaks during the day: Taking breaks during the day or after periods of extended activity will help you avoid getting overwhelmed by fatigue. During these breaks, do something relaxing such as reading, listening to music, meditating, or taking a nap.
  5. Seek professional treatment: If CRPS symptoms are interfering with your ability to function properly – it may be time to seek professional help. There are several proven treatments for CRPS, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, pain medications, and nerve blocks. Your doctor can help you find a treatment plan that works best for you.

The Takeaway

Managing the effects of CRPS can be challenging but not impossible. Get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, take breaks during the day, and seek professional help. These tips can help you improve your quality of life and make living with CRPS a little easier.

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