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64% of people who have chronic widespread pain also experience long-lasting fatigue

(Creavin et al., 2010)

In a recent topical review of pain (van Damme, Becker and Van Der Linden, 2018), it was highlighted that 64% of people who have chronic widespread pain also experience long-lasting fatigue (Creavin et al., 2010).

If you’ve ever experienced fatigue, you’ll know it has a huge impact on your daily life. Its effects can seep into our relationships and profoundly increase our suffering.

You’ll also know that your fatigue is more likely to occur when your pain is intense and longer lasting. In a systematic review (Fishbain et al., 2003), 5/6 studies showed that fatigue began after the pain started. This shows that there is a definite association between pain and fatigue, even to the extent that pain may cause fatigue. The good news is that we can take positive steps towards overcoming it.

The review explores how chronic fatigue puts the brakes on goal progress. You have a goal in sight but putting steps into action seems out of reach  – the short term costs seem to outweigh any benefits. However, action, and the attitude of “just get it done!” ” helps to suppress pain, as well as our pain-related tendencies of putting things off to another day. How do you make things happen when you have chronic fatigue? The idea of springing into action may  sound exhausting and make you want to curl up with a comforting cup of tea. It’s a challenge, but looking at the motivation and vision behind the action will help. So, in other words, curl up with a cup of tea and journal about your long-term goals for yourself, or perhaps about your wellness vision – what would wellness look like for you and what motivates you to strive for it?

How do we take small steps forward? By putting goals into place,  and only taking tiny steps at a time. Achieving small steps creates a feeling of reward, which will improve confidence on the path to a greater goal.

The topical review recommends motivational interviewing as a way to combat fatigue. I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation. It would allow the client to focus on small steps forward that are relevant to their life, increasing their will to achieve these personal goals. It also uses reflective listening; people seek to be heard and their personal (pain) experiences validated. Motivational interviewing affirms a client’s own personal strengths, efforts and resources and holds a person compassionately accountable.  If you see yourself, or someone you know in a position where pain and/or fatigue control their lives, health coaching could help to manage their personal health goals. These small steps would improve their fatigue, help manage their pain and overall improve their quality of life.

Does this sound like something that might help you? Contact me to set up at 50 minute free call to discuss how coaching can turn your pain experience around.

If you’d like to check out this topic review here’s a link to the PDF