Can Neck & Shoulder Pain Cause Fatigue?

Daily pain and fatigue can have a drastic effect on your quality of life. Fatigue is described as overwhelming tiredness, listlessness or a substantial lack of energy. People with chronic pain often experience fatigue as a result of physical strain or emotional stress from dealing with chronic pain. Mild muscle pain and soreness after physical activity is normal, but chronic neck and shoulder pain accompanied by fatigue may indicate a more serious underlying medical condition.

A chiropractor works on a patient's neck and shoulder pain Credit: mangostock/iStock/Getty Images

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue and sleep disturbances. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, nearly 10 million Americans are affected by fibromyalgia, and most of them are women. People with fibromyalgia complain of muscle pain across the back of the neck and shoulders, accompanied by fatigue and difficulty getting a restful sleep. Some physicians believe that fibromyalgia is triggered by a specific physical or emotional event, but more research is needed to determine the definite cause. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, so most physicians concentrate on symptom relief through lifestyle changes, including exercise, diet and medications to reduce pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the connective tissues that support the joints. RA is an inflammatory kind of arthritis that causes systemic inflammation, joint pain, fever and fatigue. RA patients often experience fatigue due to chronic pain, sleeping difficulties and a hyperactive immune system. RA commonly causes joint pain in the hands, wrists, shoulders and neck. There is no cure for RA, but the symptoms and joint damage caused by RA can be minimized. New biological drugs can slow joint damage and can even cause the disease to go into remission in some people. Exercise and dietary changes can also help treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome, also called CFS, is a complex disorder characterized by a collection of symptoms. Unrelieved fatigue lasting longer than six months is the most common complaint in CFS patients, but there are many other aspects to the disorder. Most patients report swollen lymph nodes, widespread muscle aches, joint pain and memory problems. Common areas for CFS muscular-skeletal pain include the shoulders, neck and back. There is no definite cause or cure for CFS. Most physicians suggest lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, regular exercise and medications to help with chronic pain.

Angina

Angina is a type of chest pain caused by restricted blood flow to the heart and surrounding tissues. This results in a decreased supply of oxygen to the heart muscle. The most common cause of angina is coronary artery disease often caused by diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity. Pain from angina can last for several minutes and may spread to the neck, shoulders, back or jaw. Additional symptoms of angina include dizziness, shortness of breath and fatigue, especially in women. Some serious heart conditions can also cause angina-like pain, so see your physician immediately for any kind of neck, shoulder or chest pain.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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