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What are the features of fatigue?

Common features of fatigue include:

  • your body and limbs feeling heavy and difficult to move 
  • flu-like feelings of exhaustion
  • the feeling that your energy has drained away.

Many people also report mental fatigue, when they can’t think straight and lose their concentration or motivation. Some patients refer to this as ‘brain fog’. Some people report an emotional fatigue which makes them irritable, down or tearful. This fatigue isn’t the same as chronic fatigue syndrome, it’s a symptom related to arthritis (just like pain and joint stiffness), and you can learn to manage it successfully.

Attacks of fatigue may occur at any time of the day. You may experience it when you wake up, so you don’t feel refreshed from sleep, or it may come on when you’re physically busy or concentrating a lot. For many people, fatigue seems to have no clear cause and happens without warning. It may last anywhere from an hour to the whole day and could continue over several days or weeks at a time, although this is less common.

Fatigue can have a major impact on your life. It can force you to stop what you’re doing and rest, or make you change your plans. This can have a big effect on your ability to run your life or do the things that we all take for granted. When fatigue is severe, it can lead to feelings of complete exhaustion, or ‘wipe-out’, when you have to sit or lie down to try to recover. This may be made worse by a lack of understanding from others about how much it affects you – show this information to friends and family to help you explain your experiences.

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