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Why Does Pain Make You Feel Tired?

Everyone has experienced pain at some point. It can happen at any time – an accident like falling can cause you to experience pain, for example. In some cases, pain can be more severe and even become chronic – think about conditions like lower back pain and arthritis.


Pain is actually very common. You can experience pain in any part of your body. Sometimes pain can be mild, but other times the pain can be more severe, and this can even make it more difficult to go through your daily life.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain affects up to 40% of American adults. It is estimated that around 8% of the adults in the country experience high-impact pain that is also chronic, which means the symptoms suffered from causes a more significant disruption in the person’s daily life.


Musculoskeletal pain is considered among the most common forms of painful symptoms. This includes lower back pain, along with myalgia, tendonitis, and stress fractures. A significant percentage of the population also suffers from pain related to conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


What is Pain?


Pain is a sensation in the body that involves receptors signaling the brain of a problem being present at some location. In many cases, pain tends to be localized, but there are scenarios where a person may experience widespread pain – in such a case, the pain would not affect just one specific area in the individual’s body.


There are different types of pain that can affect the body. Let’s start by considering the main types of pain and how they affect the body:

  • Neuropathic pain: Neuropathic pain is often caused by a disease or a lesion that affects the somatosensory nervous system. Diabetic neuropathy, an injury to the spinal cord, and postherpetic neuralgia are three examples of this type of pain.

  • Nociceptive pain: Nociceptive pain includes both pain from the skin, tissue, and muscles (somatic pain) and also from internal organs (visceral pain). This is essentially a response of noxious insult to tissue like bones, joints, organs, muscles, and the skin.

  • Inflammatory pain: As the name suggests, this type of pain is caused by an inflammatory response in the body. This type holds a close relation to nociceptive pain. This pain becomes present when proinflammatory cytokines are activated, such as IL-6, TNF-alpha, and IL-1alpha. Rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease are two examples of inflammatory pain.


Pain can also be either acute or chronic. Acute pain refers to a sudden onset of pain that usually only lasts for a short period of time. Acute pain is often more intense than chronic pain and is often caused by a recent injury.


Chronic pain is long-term and often the result of a systemic disease like arthritis or repetitive stress.


But Why Am I So Tired?


Have you ever been in pain and thought to yourself, “why am I so tired?” If so, you’re not alone.


It has been documented that there is a strong connection between pain and fatigue. When a person experiences pain, especially chronic pain, they are very likely to also suffer from fatigue. The same relationship is shown when we look at the connection the other way around. When considering people with chronic fatigue issues, pain is often one of the major accompanying symptoms.


A study led by scientists at the University of Iowa looked deeper into this matter. What they found is that there is a definite connection between the two. An explanation was given in the study that provided some insight into why more women seem to experience conditions that come with both chronic pain and fatigue at the same time, compared to men. The scientists found that a specific protein that interacts with testosterone is involved with this whole process. The protein is known to help reduce the risk of muscle fatigue and is also involved in the perception of muscle pain. Since there is a more significant amount of testosterone hormones in the male body, this could help explain why such conditions have a higher prevalence among women.


Secondary Effects of Pain


In addition to pain directly affecting the body in ways that may lead to fatigue, there are secondary effects that may further cause fatigue and tiredness as well.


In one study, scientists explain that sleep disturbances are very common in patients who suffer from chronic pain. It makes sense that being in pain would make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. When a person is unable to get a full night’s sleep, it makes them more likely to be tired the next day. Studies have also linked poor sleep to cognitive impairment and many other potential complications, including diseases.


Furthermore, it is often found that with pain, excess energy is required to perform general tasks. Certain types of pain may also cause a person to have difficulty eating a healthy diet – and this can restrict their body of food, which further contributes to the tiredness.


Psychological Effects of Chronic Pain


Pain not only affects the body; it also affects the mind. This is especially true when it comes to chronic pain conditions.


One study explains that there is a strong link between chronic pain and depression. When psychological effects are experienced, these are factors that also cause a person to experience fatigue and feel tired more often.


What About Opioids?


Pain symptoms can be treated with a variety of medications, with opioids being the most common option. While opioids can be highly effective in alleviating pain, there come with a price of side-effects and complications.


One study explains that opioids tend to inhibit central nervous functions. In turn, this may contribute to the development of fatigue. Thus, when someone decides to treat pain with opioids, it could make them even more tired. Opioids are also considered addictive, which is another serious concern that definitely needs to be taken when addressing a pain management plan.


More Info About Pain to Come…

Look for an upcoming post on how acupuncture stops the pain response. In the meantime, to learn more about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine treats pain, send us a message or leave a comment below.

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