Category Archives: Treatment

All About Costochrondritis

chestpain1Costochrondritis is one of the toughest symptoms of fibromyalgia that I’ve ever experienced.  It is truly the worst pain I’ve ever experienced as the pain is heavily radiated causing inflammation in my ribcage area.  Several years later I began to experience the severity of costochrondritis and I honestly believed I was having a heart attack.  Not only had the fibromyalgia pain spread all over my body but the intense pain from costochrondritis started from my chest, and then expanded to my stomach, my entire back and my legs.

Costochrondritis is a medical condition that causes chest wall pain around the ribcage and breast bone area which is within the chest wall.  Inflammation occurs when the cartilage swells up is connected to the ribs and breast bone area.  The level of pain depends on how much inflammation there is within the cartilage.  The pain levels can vary from mild to very painful. Basically the condition worsened the pain in my body making it hard to move and get things done.

 

I ended up in the emergency room several times as the attacks were so intense that I thought I was dying.  At my final visit to the ER over this issue, a physician told me that it sounded like costochrondritis caused by the fibromyalgia.  That’s when I learned the scary depths of fibromyalgia and all of the things it could lead to and how it could affect me.  Any type of additional pain affects my other illnesses too. I learned that I have to treat this pain separately and collectively with all of my chronic health problems. I make sure I get checked out regularly to ensure I haven’t developed another health problem.

costochondritisThe causes of costochrondritis are still unknown but there are various theories including:

  • Chest trauma such as a car accident
  • Physical strain that causes repetitive trauma
  • Upper respiratory infections and other viral infections
  • Other illnesses such as arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
  • Tumors that are cancerous and noncancerous can cause costochrondritis too.

Some of the treatments of costochrondris vary from home remedies to prescription medications.  Here is a list of several the most popular treatments recommended to treat costochrondritis such as:

  • Apply heat or ice to the inflamed area
  • Usage of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. It is recommended that it is best to take these medications with food.  However, for those with stomach problems, kidney disease, ulcers, or bleeding disorders shouldn’t take these medications.
  • There are local anesthetic and steroid injection options to treat costochrondritis. The injection is injected into the most tender spot affected by costochrondritis. This treatment option is available for patients who are affected by the chest wall pain and other prescription medications haven’t worked.
  • Antibiotics are used for patients with bacterial of fungal costochrondritis that has been causing infections to occur.

 

slide02-fibromyalgia-radiating-painAvoid any sort of strenuous activities such as exercise as it can make the symptoms until the symptoms have improved.  After this has happened then resume normal or regular activities.

In my future posts I will touch upon this topic as I consider a serious medical condition that is often misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and I feel that more people need to be informed about it.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

MayoClinic – http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/costochondritis/basics/definition/con-20024454/

 

Daily FibroFighter Series – A New Beginning

butterfly

I have been given the opportunity to learn more about what could possibly help me to feel better.  I have been chronically ill for over 17 years with various illnesses and the lovely symptoms that go with those illnesses.  I spend a bit more time thinking about all of the things that happened last year. I found it to be amazing, shocking and scary all at the same time.   There were great things that generated a boost in confidence that I can and will be able to help myself out more. I was able to do many things last year that I haven’t been able to do in the past 10 years since I’ve been sick.

I have been focusing on finding the best ways to ease my fibromyalgia pain, and other ailments.  I felt that it was time to figure it out as I now have a chance and resources to do it.  It has been a long time coming and very much needed.

My current goals consist of maintaining my weight which has spurred on more than I thought.  I have lost some weight in the past several months through changing the way I eat and doing different types of exercise.  I enjoy doing Yoga stretches, walking, and dancing.  I also follow workout videos that I’ve found online.

My current health goals consist of continuing to:

  • Maintain my weight loss through expanding my food palette.
  • Try out different workout options that can be done anywhere.
  • Research and try out alternative complementary therapies that I believe may work in reducing the symptoms of all of my illnesses.

These goals aren’t just for the year but these are goals that will be with me for life.  My plan is to chronicle my progress on my blog as I think this is the best way for others to learn what I’m doing to improve my health and overall livelihood.  I have received so many questions over the years and finally I feel ready to share on a more public platform which will include the general media and social media networking sites.

 

 

 

 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder with the acronym S.A.D. affects sufferers primarily during the winter and spring seasons.  The winter season brings less sunlight, early darkness in the evening, colder temperatures, terrible weather, and change of the seasons.

It has been found that many with SAD found that one of the main symptoms is that it triggers depression.  It was discovered in the United States by Dr. Norman Rosenthal in 1984.  This condition is unfortunately commonly undiagnosed and this makes it difficult for people to get diagnosed and receive proper treatment.  It takes approximately two to three years for patients with SAD symptoms to be diagnosed by their physician.  Research by a UK organization called Mind, provides support to those with mental health issues, has found that approximately 10% of the general population in Europe has seasonal affective disorder.  The Cleveland Clinic has found that within the United States there about 500,000 people who suffer from SAD, and approximately 10%-20% of the US population battle with milder forms of seasonal affective disorder.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Sleep problems
  • Lack of libido
  • Lowered immune system
  • Relationship problems and lack of social interaction
  • Weight gain and overeating
  • Worrisome and guilt feelings
  • Unable to concentrate

There are no known causes of SAD but research has found that the change of seasons and the change in less light is a main trigger of the disorder. When there isn’t enough light, certain functions slow down and stop gradually in the body.  Add on lower serotonin levels which is known to appear in people who suffer with depression.

Treatments for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

There are several treatments that have had positive results for most sufferers such as antidepressant prescribed medications and bright light therapy (phototherapy).  The Social Affective Disorder Association (SADA) has found that bright light therapy is the most effective therapy option.  Over 85% diagnosed SAD sufferers have found that the bright light therapy worked for them.  Bright light therapy involves exposure to the light provided from the light therapy box for about 2 hours per day.  The light mimics outside sunlight and has an intense positive effect on SAD sufferers.  Researchers believe the artificial light works by helping the chemicals in the brain linked to the patient’s mood eases the SAD symptoms.

Additional options of SAD therapy include:

  • Counseling
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy

The Social Affective Disorder Association (SADA) recommends that sufferers should avoid stress as much as possible, get as much exposure to daily light as they can, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

What is a TENS Unit?

Picture taken by Nicole Leon

Picture taken by Nicole Leon

This is one of the top questions I’m asked on Instagram regarding the TENS unit I received from a Fibro Angel who made my Santa wish come true as I was unable to afford one. The TENS unit stands for Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation which is a type of electrical pump that helps to stimulate the nerves.  It sends out pulses of electricity through the adhesive electrodes that is applied to the skin.   The stimulation helps to block out the pain signals and controls pain.  The TENS unit helps both chronic and acute pain by reducing pain in the area.

I have fibromyalgia which is a long-term illness that causes a number of problems including:

  • All over body pain
  • Aches
  • Tenderness in the tissues, tendons, muscles and joints
  • Sensitivity to changes in weather, activity levels, stress, and depression
  • Lowered ability to work out or exercise
  • Migraine/Tension headaches
  • Sleep disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Tingling and numbness in limbs
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain

Physical therapists use TENS units as a therapy option to help with controlling their patient’s pain.  The TENS unit is a handheld device that is small and portable.

TENS units are now more affordable and can be purchased online and at the local drug store. I have found that the device is helpful when my fibromyalgia pain isn’t too high. However, when my pain is too high it takes a long time for the TENS unit to ease the pain and at times can make the pain worse.  The TENS unit is a tool that may or may not work for others.  It’s a treatment option to look into and try it out to see if it works for you.

 

How to Relieve Constipation

ConstipationThere is nothing worse that not being able to go when you want to and sitting there hurting wishing that nature will take course.  It’s not a funny topic nor an embarrassing issue to discuss.  It’s a debilitating issue to deal with but the good news there are various remedies that will help to ease and prevent the situation from occurring in the future.

1.  Drink plenty of water each day of at least 20 ounces after you wake up in the morning.  Drinking approximately 10 to 12 glasses of water each day and it’s the best way to flush toxins out of the body.  Avoid drinking sugary drinks such juice and soda as they contain copious amounts of sugar that can worsen constipation symptoms.  Constipation occurs due to lack of adequate liquids in the body.
2. Try eating a ripe banana with a glass of warm milk.  Chew the banana thoroughly and drink the warm milk slowly instead of gulping it down.
3.  Consume several prunes or drink one to two glasses of prune juice.  Prunes are high in fiber they contain a substance called sorbitol which is stool-laxative that helps with relieving symptoms of constipation. The prunes contain more sorbitol than prune juice.  Skip eating foods that are high in sugar such as cookies and candy.  You can still have those foods but consume them in moderation.
4.  Exercise is an important part of life and it’s needed for increasing function in the body.  Exercise by keeping your body moving through going out for walks for at least 20-30 minutes to promote good bowel movements regularly.
5.  Finally this is a difficult option but it does work. Squat down to ease out the excrement by propping your feet on a child’s step stool and raise up your knees while sitting on the toilet.

Constipation is a continuous issue that many people including myself have experienced.  Unfortunately, I’m allergic to bananas but I do eat prunes and apples to keep things going and moving along in my system.  I drink several large bottles of room temperature water throughout the day and I exercise several times per week.

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