Saturday, July 3, 2010

Too tired to even keep up with my blog. . .

FATIGUE - such a joyous symptom of MS (not)!!! Been a little tired with adjusting to my new job and I was dog sitting for 2 weeks so I got a little behind with blogging but I promise many new posts will be coming.

So I'm borrowing portions of a great post that my blogging friend, Karen wrote. (And I added in some comments in purple.)

FATIGUE is one of the most disabling symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and 80 to 90% of people with MS are affected by it.

MS can cause an overwhelming fatigue which can be very persistent, and often causes other symptoms such as mobility issues, spasticity, muscle spasms, difficulties with concentration, memory, and visual disturbances to worsen.

MS fatigue is not the same as the tiredness that is felt by most of the population. When you are tired you can usually alleviate that by resting or getting a good night's sleep. When you have MS, the fatigue may be lessened with rest and sleep, but it won't be eliminated.

The fatigue of MS is broken down into two types: Primary fatigue, (which includes heat sensitivity and localized fatigue) and Secondary fatigue.

Primary fatigue is caused by the disease process itself, as a direct result of damage (demyelination) to the central nervous system. This damage can cause overwhelming tiredness (lassitude) that is not directly related to an increase in activity.

Then there is the "heat sensitivity" fatigue that is caused by a rise in body temperature due to hot humid weather, a hot bath or shower, illness or exercising. Luckily I do not seem to be too affected by this.

Oh and lets not forget “localized” fatigue, which is extreme weakness of a particular muscle group after a short period of use. An example of that would be; I walk up a flight of stairs in my house and when I get to the top, my legs feel like rubber with ten pound bags of cement attached to them, I then crumple to the floor and crawl to the nearest chair.

On to Secondary fatigue.

Secondary fatigue is not caused by MS itself, but rather from the symptoms of MS, or as a result of the body trying to compensate from them.

Sleep disturbances are very common (which I have plenty of even while taking sleeping pills), and we all know if you don't get a good sleep you are pooched the next day. Common reasons for restless or sleepless nights are; pain, spasms, anxiety, medication side effects, and my personal favourite, nocturia. Nocturia, what a great word meaning, to get up 10-20 times in the night to go pee. It's much more intelligent sounding to say, I didn't get any sleep last night because of my nocturia, rather than, ya I was up peeing all night. I'll have to write a whole separate post on dealing with this!

Some medications that are taken for MS, the beta-interferons, also cause fatigue. Then there is the fatigue caused by the plethora of drugs that are taken to control the symptoms of MS. Valium, zanaflex and baclofen for spasticity, neurontin and klonopin and for pain, and the multitude of anti depressant drugs that are prescribed for numerous symptoms.

Exertion is a great cause of fatigue. I am not talking about jogging a mile or extreme sports here. With MS, the body has to constantly compensate for symptoms like spasticity or weakness, which can make any movement difficult. So even walking can be fatiguing.

And of course the lack of physical fitness (exercise) can be attributed to fatigue.
Hmm...exertion = fatigue, lack of exercise = fatigue. Here's a dilemma.

Another symptom of MS can be depression, which often causes people to feel overwhelmingly tired. Sometimes, the fatigue itself causes depression. Some of the medications used to treat depression can also cause fatigue. This is definitely a no win situation!

Other factors playing into the fatigue scenario include; poor nutrition, illness and stress.

Thanks Karen for doing such a great job explaining about fatigue! Hopefully all my friends and family have a better understanding of what people with MS deal with.


  1. Hope you are able to relax and enjoy the 4th of July. Fatigue sucks. We all deal with it the best we can.

  2. Excellent explanation! If you haven't ever suffered from MS related fatigue it is very difficult to comprehend... people always seem to think a nap will cure it!

  3. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, immune-mediated disorder. That means the system designed to keep your body healthy mistakenly attacks parts of your body that are vital to everyday function. The protective coverings of nerve cells are damaged, which leads to diminished function in the brain and spinal cord. Stem cells multiple sclerosis treatment