About 1 in 4 adults in the United States suffers from arthritis. This condition results in severe joint pain and weakness in the hands, knees, hips and other areas of the body. Age is the most common contributing factor to developing arthritis, as the cartilage between our joints becomes thinner as we grow older. Aside from joint pain, arthritis can also cause uncomfortable swelling, redness, and a decreased range of motion, as well as pain-related fatigue.
Why does arthritis cause fatigue?
Fatigue is a common symptom among those suffering from arthritic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. The most common cause of this symptom is inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system increases the flow of white blood cells to areas of injury. This causes the painful swelling and redness of arthritic joints. Fighting inflammation puts the body under a lot of stress, resulting in fatigue and exhaustion.
Other factors that may contribute to fatigue are:
- Side effects from medication — Arthritic patients are often prescribed pain relievers or other medications to treat the symptoms of arthritis. Many of these medications may cause drowsiness or fatigue as a side effect.
- Lack of activity — While arthritis may make movement more uncomfortable, studies show that patients with fibromyalgia who spent less time sitting and more time doing light physical activity had lower levels of fatigue than inactive patients.
- Loss of sleep — A good night’s rest can often be interrupted by discomfort caused by arthritis. It is important to keep a regular sleep schedule to avoid feeling fatigued and to help the body recover.
What can I do to reduce fatigue caused by arthritis?
The fatigue resulting from arthritis can be treated by addressing the main causes of arthritic pain and discomfort. Joint pain and inflammation makes movement more difficult and uncomfortable, but physical therapy can help reduce the pain caused by arthritic joints. In one study published in the Journal of Osteoporosis, results suggested that physical therapy helped reduce pain scores by 52% in patients suffering from arthritis of the knee.
Our Continuum Wellness physical therapists can do a free screening of your arthritic joint to determine which symptoms you need help with. Our specialists can then build you a customized therapy plan designed to:
- Reduce your symptoms.
- Help you manage them better in the future.
- Increase your ability to do normal daily tasks.
Contact our team today for more information about how we can help address arthritis-related fatigue or to schedule your initial appointment.