Tag Archives: pain

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/

 

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.

 

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