What is pain?
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”.
Pain is your body’s warning signal, letting you know that something is wrong in your body. When part of your body is injured or damaged, chemical signals are released that travel from nerve system cells (called neurons) to your brain where they are recognized as pain.
Most forms of pain can be divided into two general categories: Continue reading
“I’m so tired”: arthritis and fatigue
For many people living with arthritis, “I’m so tired” is an often spoken phrase. Fatigue is their constant, very unpleasant companion. It is a symptom which is often overlooked or overshadowed by other concerns when treating arthritis, but it can be life-altering to people living with the disease.
Often, research into treatments for arthritis has focussed on other disease symptoms, sometimes leaving out the importance of managing fatigue. Some recent research, however, has focussed on fatigue, why it is harmful, and how it can be better treated.
In an article published in Clinical Care in the Rheumatic Diseases, Basia Belza and Kori Dewing examined fatigue in arthritis and described some strategies for dealing with fatigue and minimizing its impact.
This article cites other research to conclude that 80 – 100% of people living with certain types of inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia, live with fatigue. Most types of arthritis are associated with some fatigue, and it can be one of the most difficult symptoms to live with, and treat.
Fatigue has been defined as “usually or always being too tired to do what you want” (Wolf et al). For people living with extreme fatigue, completing even the simplest tasks, or participating in normal day to day activities, can feel nearly impossible. People who face fatigue as a symptom of their disease can simply feel “too tired” to do the things they want or need to do in their lives.
Causes of fatigue
There are several causes of arthritis-related fatigue, which very often occur together. Belza and Dewing note several causes of arthritis-related fatigue, including: Continue reading
Arthritis affects people of all ages and can cause stress, and in more serious cases, depression and anxiety. Pain researchers are discovering how emotions, thoughts, and behaviours can influence the level of pain someone experiences and how well they adjust to it. For instance, how an individual responds to stress can predict how well they will recover from hip replacement surgery. Even how a patient feels about whether their coping strategies are working, or not, can affect their experience of the pain itself. Other factors that can influence how well you manage with your disease are whether you feel helpless, tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your pain, whether you decide to accept your pain and carry on in spite of it, and how well you handle stress. Arthritis Broadcast Network believes people living with arthritis deserve extra relaxation on National Relaxation Day and hope that the following tips will help you relax!
Rhythmic breathing and deep breathing can help release tension from everyday life. The former involves inhaling and exhaling slowly while counting to five; the latter can be accomplished by filling your abdomen with air, like inflating and deflating a balloon.
Harvard Health summarizes the benefits of exercise as follows: Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over. Continue reading
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is one of the most common types of inflammatory arthritis. It is estimated to affect up to 1 in 200 people.
Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the spine, but can also involve the hips, knees, shoulders, and rib cage. The most common symptom of AS is long-term back pain, along with spinal stiffness in the morning or after a long period of rest (this is the main reason why AS is often mis-diagnosed as ordinary “low back pain”).
Unlike in many other forms of arthritis where women are most affected, three out of four people diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis are men. It tends to strike in the prime of life; while it can strike at any age, it is most common in people between ages 15 and 40. While it has no known cure, it is treatable; with the proper care, people who are diagnosed with AS can lead full, productive lives.
Diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis