More fun medical news from Rachel!  Ever since my fall in January my chest muscles have been inflamed and tender to the touch.  For a while my endocrinologist thought it was costochondritis (an infection of the lungs).  The problem with that diagnosis is costochondritis usually only lasts for 1-3 months.  I have had this pain now for 8 months.

Next my doctor thought it might be a pulled muscle that kept getting reinjured.  This never made sense to me because why would the pain be all over my ribcage, an area that contains many muscles.  Could I really pull all of them and then keep reinjuring all of them? It seemed unlikely.

The other problem I have dealt with is the extreme pain I feel after almost any workout.  At first I thought this was just from a lack of training but after nearly 2 years of hard exercise it still hasn’t gotten any easier.  Granted I keep pushing myself harder and harder but you would think that after a while my body would learn to bounce back with greater ease.

Trying to diagnose the problem I had an MRI done a couple of weeks ago.  There they found an ‘old compression fracture’ on my thoracic area of the spine.  We are not sure how old this injury is but it’s most likely from the fall.  Typically a compression fracture is found in people who fall from a building or high place like I did with the stairs.  It is probably mostly caused by the intensity with which my head hit the wall at the  end of the stairs.

Fortunately the fracture has completely healed and shouldn’t cause me anymore problems.  However, it still didn’t answer why I kept having these chest pains.  So, I met with the doctor yesterday to discuss the MRI and my pain.

Now I’ve had my share of lame doctors but this one was wonderful.  She has dealt with chronic pain and knew exactly what to do.  She spent nearly an hour with me and asked me questions about my sleep, the pain, and my workouts.  Then she touched all of these trigger points around my body.  It was amazing when she touched certain spots the pain shot up through me like a bolt of lightning.

Evidently if you have pain in 11 out of 18 trigger points then you have fibromyalgia.  She also said the sleep apnea and slow recovery from exercise are big signs.

This might sound strange but it was so nice to have a name to the pain.  Now I can start my research and learn more about this condition.  I really feel this is a huge piece in the puzzle of my overall health.

This is where I come to you internet-world.  Do any of you have fibromyalgia or have loved one’s with it?  I would love to hear about what has worked for you?  According to my doctor there isn’t a ton they can do about the condition aside from taking anti-depressants (sounds strange but I guess it helps with the way your immune system transmits pain signals), which I will only do as a last resort.

I’ve heard that acupuncture helps and so even though the needles kind of freak me out I might give it a try.  I already get massages from my friend Jill who gives me a great deal.  I wish I could afford it every day, it helps so much!

I also love the hot tub at my gym.  It practically melts the muscles.

The doctor said that even though the workouts may cause additional pain they are the best thing I can do.  She added I should not expect any relief from the pain as I get more in shape.  Kind of a bummer but oddly comforting as well.  This whole time I thought I was just kind of a pain-whimp.  Turns out I’ve been pretty strong all along!

The other good news is that swimming is the best workout I can do for fibromyalgia.  It is the easiest on the body and is low impact on my muscles.  Hurray!  The one thing that is best for me is the activity I enjoy most!

Anyway, like I said if you have any experience with this condition that might help me, I would love to hear it.  Thanks in advance!


19 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia

  1. Thanks for your feedback. I’m excited to dive into your blogs. Today I’ve had a lot of pain from some intense workouts. Have you used any alternative therapies to treat fibromyalgia? I would really rather not go on anti-depressants.

    1. Yes, I have tried multiple alternative treatments & they can be very useful and helpful. However, selective use of available medications generally helps the most in the long run WHEN accompanied by exercise, diet, relaxation, and numerous other “alternatives.”

      The medications were originally created as “anti-depressants,” but if they had been developed originally as “anti-fibro pain” medications, would you be more open to taking them? My point is that those medications work on the central nervous system, problems with which are now known to be the cause of fibromyalgia pain. It just so happens that the same brain mechanisms that produce clinical depression are also implicated in fibromyalgia pain.

      You do need to be very careful with them, and it takes a lot of experimentation to figure out what works best for you.

      But believe me, after nearly 20 years of this, I have no resistance whatsoever to taking drugs if they work!

      1. Funny, I relate to whatever works…I’m on it! I’ve struggled w/ this since 1990&just recently found comfort from a specialist in this illness…thank goodness for the doctors who do no about this condition or I would still be in bed, miserable,debilitating pain,up all night…the works. Just no strenuous physical work or in a sitting,laying down position too long or I get joint stiffness, muscle spasms(fiber-attacks)is what I call them.

  2. I am curious about your exercise regiment and also how you recover/heal after a workout. I have gotten to only one non-swimming exercise a week. The rest are all in the water. Any tricks that might help?

  3. I have dealt w/not knowing what was causing my life style to change dramatically,even in bed for literally 2 yrs! Many Doctors,exams of all kinds w/no results until 1 Dr.actually reviewed a notebook I put together. He diagnosed me w/Fibromyalgia,Chronic fatigue syndrome,other medical problems by time we got to this far! Its been incredibly challenging but went on his suggested medicinal regimen & I’m now out of bed,found pacing everything worked well, yoga(comfortable)works too. I never liked the idea of taking so many meds but I haven’t felt this well since I went to my rheumatologist who specializes in my condition prescribed gabapentin,an antidepressant,pain medication(percocet works the best for me),sleep medication that gives me a good sleep all night,yoga&walking(nothing stressful on muscle groups) or I’m in bed for 3 days. Sounds like so much but whatever works is all I care about at this point. Good luck & God Bless us who struggle w/this difficult illness.

    1. Thank you for your comment. They are actually thinking I have thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies causing the pain. Since I’ve gotten this more figured out things have been much better. I’m very hopeful. Its so exciting when you find something that gives you some relief. Isn’t it the best?

  4. I am an active person, as well as a Relief Socity President. I have struggled with this problem for many years. I agree with simple, consistent exercise. I am definitely finding some relief with sleep medication, vitamins D, B12, and Gabapentin. There will always be good days and bad days. Coming to terms with that fact is helpful. I have other chronic head pain due to some damage and surgeries with my jaws. Headaches are a constant. I take Ibuprofin to help with that. I also go to a physical therapist that is willing to work on whatever body part that needs it. She does muscle therapy and cranio sacral therapy (making slight adjustments to the bones in the skull). I go every other week, but would give anything to have it every day!

    Keeping the faith, prayer, and serving others helps keep me going. Also doing what I can to think positive (which can be difficult). Best of luck!

  5. Have you tried gentle yoga postures and breathing techniques and relaxations – its just a thought from a yoga teacher in UK – I am working with a student who has been diagnosed with the condition…

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