Monday, October 22, 2012

What is the Chronic Illness Symptom Cycle?

Have you heard of the Chronic Illness Symptom Cycle? It is something I have taught in my AFEP class (Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program) and it's important to know so that you can break this unhealthy cycle.
I saw this image on Tumblr and no one could tell it came from this site so I
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Thanks -Megan Folse

The Chronic Illness Symptom Cycle
When left unchecked, chronic pain can really mess up your life.

Let's imagine that your knees are in pain (maybe your knees actually are in pain). Because of the pain, you might try to avoid doing activities involving your knees, like walking, kneeling, or even standing. Avoiding these activities causes the muscles around your knee and the muscles used in these activities to become deconditioned, to lose flexibility and strength, or it causes stiffness and even disability.

The deconditioning causes fatigue, because it takes twice the effort to do half of what you used to. You don't have strength in them anymore. This might cause depression, anger, anxiety, fear, loss of self-esteem, or make you withdraw from society because you can't do all the things you once were able to do.

This anger, depression, social withdrawal, or anxiety is making you stress. With the deconditioning of the muscles around your knee and in your legs, you have to worry about how to get around. And what if there is a fire or an earthquake? And why did this have to happen to you? And oh, how you'd just love to have a day of being perfectly healthy. And your friends don't understand what you are going through. Because you can't keep up with them, they've stopped inviting you to spend time with them. There is so much on your plate that you never had to focus on and your life has turned upside down. Because you are stressed, you unknowingly tense up your muscles. After months of keeping these muscles tensed, this creates new pain for you. And the cycle starts again.

This cycle can also go the opposite direction, or from one point on the star to another point until it's one giant puddle of miserable.

Now that you know what the Chronic Illness Symptom Cycle is, you can learn to defeat it in my post How to Kill the Chronic Illness Symptom Cycle.

 Have you realized that you have gotten yourself stuck in the Chronic Illness Symptom Cycle?

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