Fatigue In Ankylosing Spondylitis
Posted on: 11/20/06
"Fatigue has been recognized as one of the major complaints among patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases." State Croatian researchers in a recent study.
But what causes fatigue in spondylitis?
Fatigue can be caused by many things related to spondylitis such as loss of sleep because of physical discomfort. But it can also be a by-product of the disease itself.
Spondylitis causes inflammation. When inflammation is present, your body must use energy to deal with it. The release of cytokines(1) during the process of inflammation can produce the sensation of fatigue as well as mild to moderate anemia. Anemia may also contribute to a feeling of tiredness. Treating the inflammation caused by ankylosing spondylitis can assist in decreasing fatigue and anemia. We recommend discussing treatment options with your doctor.
Tip: Fatigue can be a big part of pain. In addition to speaking with your doctor, ask your physical therapist to teach you how to move with efficiency so that you may minimize fatigue and frustration.
The Croatian researchers conclude that, "…the intensity of fatigue should be assessed more frequently in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases as a marker of both disease activity and functional ability."
How does it feel?
For our May / June 2004 issue of Spondylitis Plus, we asked our posters on our message board to tell us what the fatigue in ankylosing spondylitis feels like. Here are some of their responses:
"Some days it feels like wanting to blend into the sofa, so that none of my family members will notice that I am there and ask or expect me to do anything." --Christie, Huntington Beach, CA
"I liken it to wearing a jacket containing 40 pound weights in each pocket, while slogging through a vat of molasses with suction cups glued to the bottom of your shoes."
--Michael, NY, NY
"No amount of sleep will reduce the fatigue that makes me feel like I'm walking around all day with one of those lead aprons that they use at the dentist's office for x-ray protection. It feels like when you experienced a BAD case of the flu - pre AS."
-- Tim, Phoenix, AZ
"I lie in bed at night and will myself to move because it hurts so much to actually do it. In addition, when I "wake up" in the morning, if I actually managed to get some sleep, I feel like I haven't even been in bed. It's such an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Arms and legs feel like lead - and there is a sense of failure - even though you know this is not the case."
-- Crystal, Cleveland, OH
(1) Cytokine: A small protein released by cells that has a specific effect on the interactions between cells, on communications between cells or on the behavior of cells. The cytokines includes the interleukins, lymphokines and cell signal molecules, such as tumor necrosis factor and the interferons, which trigger inflammation and respond to infections.
References: "Fatigue in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis: Its Relationship to Disease Activity and Functional Ability." Frane Grubišic, Zrinka Jajic. University Hospital Sestre Milosrdnice, Zagreb, Croatia. Presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, November, 2006.
"Straight Talk on Spondylitis". Robert L. Swezey et al. Spondylitis Association of America, 1985 - reprinted 1992.
"Your Guide to Living With Ankylosing Spondylitis". Laurie M. Savage. Spondylitis Association of America, 2004.