Arthritis is an umbrella word, used to describe more than 100 different conditions that affect the joints. All types of arthritis cause pain, tenderness, and stiffness in your joints, but a group of types of arthritis that involve inflammation may also cause fatigue.
Fatigue is much more than feeling tired, and the providers at Family Acupuncture and Wellness, led by Adam Learner, LAc, and co-founder Betsy Learner, LAc, have helped many patients struggling with the intertwined issues of joint pain and fatigue.
Inflammation and joint pain
Not all arthritis is inflammatory. For example, osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis, is sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis because it results from years of using your joints and they simply begin to wear out.
Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and gout, among others, are all examples of inflammatory arthritis. These forms of the disease are autoimmune disorders, which means your immune system mistakes your joints, or the tissues of your joints, for foreign invaders and swings into action.
When your immune system senses a virus, bacteria, or other problem, inflammation is one of the tools it deploys to combat the invasion. We often think of inflammation as a bad thing, but when your immune system works properly, it serves an important biological function. When your immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy tissue, you have a serious health problem.
In inflammatory arthritis, the healthy tissue is part of your joint, and the inflammation destroys it over time. You have difficulty moving the affected joint, especially early in the morning or after a period of rest.
Inflammation and fatigue
Many people think of fatigue as being tired, but it’s more than that. When you’re tired, you can rest and feel better. When you have fatigue that’s not the case.
Fatigue affects your ability to function. It can impair your concentration and make it difficult or impossible to carry out your obligations during the day, or to enjoy activities you usually love.
Researchers aren’t sure how inflammation and fatigue are associated. They don’t know if the fatigue is a result of the process of sickness, or if it is more often a result of pain, or if there’s some other reason that inflammation so often leads to extreme fatigue.
What you can do
At Family Acupuncture and Wellness, we encourage you to take all of the steps you can personally to reduce the amount of inflammation in your body. You can do that by reducing stress, paying close attention to your diet, making activities you do regularly a bit easier, and trying to get an adequate amount of sleep each night.
All of those are things that it’s much easier to say than to actually do. How do you lower your stress levels when you have a chronic condition that causes pain? We may be able to help through therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and Chinese herbal medicine.
We practice functional medicine, and our aim is to help you achieve the optimal health possible for you. Whether we can help you by giving you nutrition guidance or through therapeutic modalities, you may be surprised by the degree of control you have when it comes to inflammation.
Contact us at Family Acupuncture and Wellness in Portsmouth, NH today for an exam and consultation.