Why MS Fatigue?

As I was doing my hair this morning, my arms were incredibly heavy, I could barely lift them up to finish. It got me wondering exactly why those of us living with MS suffer from more fatigue than others?

I Googled it and found some very interesting articles!

The National MS society has a great write-up about fatigue that contained important information that I already know.

They tell us how fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS, occurring in about 80% of the people with the disease. Fatigue can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function at home and at work, and the MS society said that, “Fatigue is one of the primary causes of early departure from the workforce.”

Many of our symptoms take away from a good night’s sleep.

  • Pain and muscle spasms that accompany MS also take away from our quality of sleep.
  • Many of us suffer from incontinence, which causes us to wake up during the night, diminishing our quality of sleep.
  • The emotional turmoil that comes with having MS might cause disruption in the normal sleep patterns also.
  • A good nights sleep is imperative to feeling energetic.

I learned something new from an article written by Pamela Martin of Healing Well.

To help us understand, Pamela told us of when she was walking home carrying two bags of groceries, she came across construction that prevented her from taking the normal manageable route. She followed the detour signs and ended up walking much farther to return home. By the time she made it home after the roundabout way of getting there she was exhausted!

Pamela explained how with MS, the messages are being sent throughout our myelin-damaged central nervous system similarly to the detour she was taking to get home, the result was the same, exhaustion.

What Makes MS Fatigue Different?

No one really knows what makes MS fatigue different, yet a few theories are a possibility.

  • Maybe it depends on where the myelin has been attacked and how many detours are necessary in brain activity to complete a task.
  • Perhaps another MS symptom, the feeling of ‘lead’ when moving our limbs could be the cause. The amount of energy it takes to complete the simplest of tasks like doing a load of laundry expends as much energy as a healthy person doing a more rigorous activity.
  • Poor overall health. It is possible that the general deterioration of the body afflicted with MS exhausts the body’s storehouse of energy causing the feelings of fatigue.

I know I’m not the only one who is Mentally Fatigued, but I never thought about the work that the brain has to do to make up the difference in the pathways to obtain the usual results!

I’m not making this up but it really is all in my mind!

Pamela’s article is very helpful in understanding this aspect of MS Fatigue! You can read the entire article right here~  Pamela has done the research to verify her findings and also gave suggestions for treatments.

I’d like to tell you myself, but I’m too fatigued to do the research myself, no lie!

It’s time for my 20 minute stationary bike ride and a cat nap! This is a sure-fire way of combating fatigue for me!

How about you? What do you do to fight your fatigue?  Tell me in the comments below!


About our Co-Founder: With a bachelors in Social Work, Linda is 53 years old, happily married with eight children and 17 grandchildren. Diagnosed with MS in 1995 and now having accepted and truly embraced her new reality, Linda has created MSrelief.com. She is dedicated to proving that joy can be chosen while living with Multiple Sclerosis. Linda specializes in helping others, especially those with MS attain the lifestyle, independence and happiness amid living with MS.


  1. Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a
    lot of time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    • Hey Leila~
      I’m glad you appreciated this post. I think blogging is incredibly therapeutic and I like to share information about something that I need! I like to hear from your thoughts too!

  2. Stephanie Tinney

    Hahaha Linda, I, too, am too fatigued to type out my thoughts. I haven’t read the article yet but will. Hopefully it will discuss what I feel like at times so my husband has a clearer understanding of why I don’t want to go to the gym regularly and certainly not at night!

    • Stephanie~
      Great to see you here! I appreciate you taking the time to let me see you! I just have to say so matter what we say, people without MS never get it! We just have to love them anyway! 🙂
      See you tomorrow~

  3. Naps, naps and more naps! Sometimes just 10 minutes of closing my eyes is enough to reboot my energy. If I’m having a flare-up, it’s more like 2 hours at a time. But for the most part, I have a “lie down” everyday for at least 20 minutes.

  4. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 80% of people with MS have fatigue. MS-related fatigue tends to get worse as the day goes on, is often aggravated by heat and humidity, and comes on more easily and suddenly than normal fatigue.

  5. This is actually a great information and I think there are a lot of people who should be aware with this.. Our health is very important.. Thanks for this!

    • Karminn,
      You are so right! It’s like I’ve said many times, when I was healthy, I always said ‘I’m grateful for my heath’ but it wasn’t until I lost it that I know what ‘grateful for my health’ really means!

  6. Hi Linda,

    Great blog. I always thought one reason for MS fatigue was that our body got tired trying to fight off the MS attacks but I might have made it up! I find the fatigue the worse symptom and the one that is the hardest and most frustrating to explain to others. My new neuro put me on Amantadine which is an anti-viral medication and while I have no idea why, it does help more than any other RXS I have taken. One final thought on the fatigue, my dream life when I sleep is insane. I know that when you dream you are suppsoedly in REM sleep so are supposedly resting well, but I am suspicious of that as in my dreams I am concentrating, making decisions and since I remember them, memorizing them. Too bad I can’t remember stuff from my waking life! The point is, I wake up exhausted and my brain has been doing all this work so I know I am not resting. Just more weirdnes that is either me or my MS!

    • Yvonne~
      I rarely remember my dreams, I mean I can count on one hand the dreams that I remember! How boring my sleep is!

Comments are closed