Use the Spoon Theory to explain chronic pain fatigue

Use the Spoon Theory to explain chronic pain fatigue

Sarah Dillingham - CEO & Founder
3 minute read

Fatigue is a common chronic joint pain symptom, but it can be hard for people to understand.

Chronic pain fatigue is different from feeling tired. It can be related to inflammation in the body, and / or the exhaustion brought on from being in pain every day.

It can be difficult to explain what it feels like and the impact it has on daily life.

That's where the Spoon Theory comes in.


What is the Spoon Theory?

The Spoon Theory is a personal story written by Christine Miserandino. In the story, Christine is speaking with a friend in a cafe. She uses the spoons in front of her to explain what it is like to live with a chronic illness and only have a limited amount of energy each day.

Imagine that every morning you are given a certain number of spoons - say 10 -  and each day there are tasks that require one or two spoons each to perform.

Waking up and getting ready in the morning - that’s one spoon….making breakfast - that’s another….laundry, unloading the dishwasher, an evening out with friends, cooking dinner for our family...each task requires a unit of energy or a spoon.

As the day unfolds, you give up more and more spoons, until you inevitably run out. If you haven’t done all the things that you wanted to do, it can feel very frustrating.

If you or someone you care about suffers from a chronic illness, the "Spoons Theory" is worth a read.


Why share the Spoon Theory?

We love this personal story because it helps those with an illness educate others on what they are going through in a typical day. It also helps others without an illness relate and understand how life is different.

The spoons theory can help explain to those around you that you aren’t unsocial, flaky or uninterested, you simply are out of the necessary energy to attend that lunch, go for after-work drinks or anything else you’re ‘out of spoons for’.

It also helps those of us with a chronic illness prioritize our days. We have a good idea of how many spoons we have in a day… how can we best spend them?



The Spoon Theory has really taken off, and has become a popular way to talk about living with chronic pain.

It is now well known in the chronic pain community, and the term 'spoonie' is often used to mean someone who has a chronic illness.

You may see #spoonie on social media or read comments about being 'out of spoons'. 


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