Why Does RA Make You Feel So Tired?
Fatigue can be the worst part of having RA. Here's what's going on.
Rheumatologist Susan M. Goodman, M.D., attending physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, explains the deal with RA fatigue.
It's not really known why rheumatoid arthritis makes you feel so tired. It's been studied a lot as fatigue is one of the most important problems for patients. Many patients will tell me that they can cope with pain, but they really can't get through the fatigue. The fatigue is what really wipes them out.
What causes it isn't clear. It seems to be a combination of factors. We do have some evidence that the more active the disease is, the more inflammation, the more tender and swollen joints the patient has, the more likely they are to be fatigued. But that's not necessarily always the case.
In a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, many patients have chronic pain, which is exhausting, as well as depression because of the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on their life. That also can cause a fair amount of fatigue. All of those factors inflammation—pain and depression—are all interwoven and all contribute in some people in different proportions.