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Table 3 Summary of terminology used spontaneously to describe FM fatigue

From: Fatigue in fibromyalgia: a conceptual model informed by patient interviews

Term US
(n = 20)
(n = 10)
(n = 10)
(n = 40)
Example Quote
Tired/Tiredness 19 3 5 27 "Tired - tiredness is, I'm tired but I'm still going about my business, and when I get extremely tired, I just know you have to stop and you need to rest, lay down." Female, aged 69, US
Tire easily 17 4 4 25 "This morning I got up and I was a little slow getting up and getting moving. So I thought, OK, it's going to be one of those days. But then I'm sitting there, after my husband goes, OK, feeling better. And then the tiredness came in. It's like, no, you're going to have to crash, that's it." Female, aged 49, US
Tired upon waking 5 2 2 9 "And then okay... every day, every day... being tired when you wake up... I say, "After all, you didn't do anything excessive, nothing excessive, you..." ...I have a relatively healthy lifestyle... so.. I don't see the why and how of it...!" Male, aged 47, France
Sleepiness 5 0 1 6 Interviewer: "So, can you just describe that feeling, the tiredness feeling." Patient: "Sometimes it's a sleepiness, as in sitting in my recliner on a bad day, I'll fall asleep." Female, aged 49, US
No energy/Lack of energy 16 0 4 20 "Just very tired, and just - really no energy, energy level very low." Female, aged 50, US
Fatiguea 14 N/A N/A 14 "The fatigue, it's number one, because I can deal with the pain, at least up to a certain point, but the fatigue there's nothing you can do besides sleep. There is no way to help that. There's no pill you can take, there's no medicine." Female, aged 33, US
Feeling drained 6 4 1 11 "Fatigue is just always just drained. Like feeling drained." Female, aged 34, US
Feeling weak 5 2 4 11 "I feel like my body doesn't have energy. Like I'm sitting here and the effort that it would take for me to get up and walk, or run, I would think about it before a normal person would, I think. I would think about the energy it takes, and I would feel - I just feel like weighted down. That's what the fatigue feels like. It's almost a weak feeling, or a heavy feeling." Female, aged 25, US
8 2 3 13 "I would feel tired, or exhausted, or just run down, those kind of terms, which is all connected." Female, aged 50, US
No get up and go 5 0 0 5 "It feels like it's like - like a plug has been pulled. The fatigue does, feels like a plug has been pulled. And your get up and go, your energy has just drained away. That's the best I can describe it." Male, aged 43, US
Shattered 0 0 5 5 "How can I describe it? I don't have any energy, I don't feel so tired that I have to lie down but I am shattered. I have no desire to get up, I stay sitting down and wait for the next burst of pain." Male, aged 52, Germany
Worn out 1 6 5 12 "And now to do the simplest little thing, I can be where I'm just totally worn out. Like I've been doing something all day long very strenuous." Female, aged 49, US
Overwhelmed 8 4 3 15 "When tiredness happens, there's no relief. It's like an overwhelming, overarching, penetrating, consuming tiredness." Female, aged 61, US
Tired even after resting/good night's sleep 10 1 4 15 "But when you sleep, it doesn't resolve it. You still wake up tired. So in turn, it affects your motivation, because you have things that you want to get done." Female, aged 50, US
Emotional tiredness 1 0 0 1 "So there's an emotional tiredness that comes with it. And I guess that would be the difference." Male, aged 43, US
  1. a In French and German there is no term for fatigue that is distinct from the terms that are used for tiredness and exhaustion