Understanding post-stroke fatigue: symptoms, causes, management

Whether you have had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA or "mini-stroke"), a mild stroke with minimal symptoms, or a large and impactful stroke, post-stroke fatigue can affect you.

Whether you had your stroke when you were young or old, were active or inactive, post-stroke fatigue can affect you.

What post-stroke fatigue feels like:

Post-stroke fatigue is known for limiting your ability to work, enjoy social activities, do recreational activities, participate in rehab and therapies, and is linked to depression and anxiety.

Post-stroke fatigue is different than feeling tired. It can hit suddenly, even if you have not had a strenuous day or activity. Or it can be a steady feeling of fatigue all day even if you've had a good night sleep or a restful nap. It might frustrate and confuse you and your family/friends especially if you have had a relatively good recovery from your other stroke symptoms.


  1. Physical Causes: after a stroke, your brain and body are healing. The healing process itself increase energy demands of the body. Additionally, you are learning new ways of moving, new skills, new medical information, etc which can cause fatigue.

  2. Emotional Changes: feelings of anxiety, depression, and low mood are common following stroke. These changes in emotions can also cause fatigue. If you're constantly feeling irritable or tense, talk to your doctor to discuss pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options.

  3. Other Factors: pain, sleep disturbances, disrupted diet due to changes in taste or chewing/swallowing ability, certain medications and medical conditions can also contribute to fatigue.

What you can do about it:

The good news is, you can do things to improve your post-stroke fatigue. Generally, post-stroke fatigue happens early after stroke and gradually improves. But, the Stroke Foundation and American Heart Association offer recommendations for improving your post-stroke fatigue.

For a quick and easy read or access to podcasts: check out the Stroke Association's recommendations.

For a deeper dive, check out this article from the American Heart Association.

You might be surprised to learn exercise is an important component to improving post-stroke fatigue not worsening it.

It Matters can help get you started and guide you along in the right amount, intensity, and type of exercise that is appropriate for you. We bring specialized neurologic physical therapy to your home in the Brainerd Lakes Area. We monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels to ensure we are basing our graded-exercise recommendations on the science that is available on exercise and post-stroke fatigue. We individualize the exercises and activities to you and how your body responds to activity. Think your stroke was too big, too debilitating to exercise? Call us. Chances are we can help even if you've been told there is no hope.

You Matter. Science matters. Time matters.

Call us today.


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