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SACROILIAC JOINT PAIN- WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT CAN BE TREATED…

If, like me you are a sufferer of SI joint pain then you will try a number of treatments to help alleviate it. The Very Well Health site explain what sacroiliac joint pain is. SI joints (there are two) are located on either side of your lower back between the sacrum—a triangle-shaped bone that sits beneath the lumbar spine and above the tailbone—and the pelvic bones. SI joints, like any other, can become irritated, dysfunctional (they move too much or not enough), or injured, all of which can lead to pain.

The symptoms of SI joint pain is pain, which can be sharp, stabbing, or dull and located in the lower back or the back of the hip area. Sometimes the pain is felt in the groin, thigh, below the knee, or in the buttocks. Movements or positions that stress the joint can worsen the pain, such as standing up from a sitting position, walking up stairs, turning in bed, or bending/twisting.

I have arthritis in both my SI joints and one side gives me a lot more pain than the other. My pain is both sharp when I lie on my side and stabbing and after a walk can be dull and is in my lower back and hip area. Last year they thought I was suffering from hip bursitis due to the referred pain I was having in my hips but the MRI scan showed it was the SI joints with arthritis.

The treatment I had was corticosteroid which was injected into the SI joint to provide longer-lasting relief. The relief was amazing and lasted a good three months and has slowly come back during the last month. I was told I could have these injections every four months so I am now waiting for a referral for another one. This does not always work for everyone but they say that this injection is  “gold standard” diagnostic test for SI joint dysfunction. If a person experiences at least a 75 percent improvement in pain, the test is considered “positive. So, at least you know what we are dealing with.

Other treatments which Healthline writes about include stretching the muscles around your SI joint as this can potentially help you loosen up tight areas. This may help relieve tension in your lower back and make it easier to move around with less pain and discomfort. They suggest that you try to set aside some time each day to stretch. Even doing a couple of stretches for a few minutes a day can go a long way. Here are 5 stretches and 2 gentle exercises you can do at home to help ease SI joint pain from Healthline.

Other treatments for SI joint pain which are explained on Pain Management site include, radiofrequency denervation  which can also be useful in the treatment of SI joints. This form of treatment uses heat to deactivate the nerves surrounding the painful joint, preventing it from sending pain signals. Treatment with a good physio therapist can also help correct posture and body movements, and provide advice on different sleeping positions. Over the counter medication can be used to treat painful symptoms and in more severe cases, prescription painkillers may be administered. Or, in some cases, where all the above treatment methods fail, then surgery may be considered as an option. SI joint fusion permanently fixes the sacrum to the ilium using metal implants.

Source: Very Well Health, Health Line, Pain Management

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CAN COVID-19 CAUSE BACK PAIN?…

Can Covid-19 cause back pain? Well, according to Hackensack Meridian Health they say that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, rehabilitation specialists say they have seen an increase in patients with back pain.

They wrote that they are seeing patients with old back pain which has now reared its head and become worse from sitting more, due to the pandemic and new back pain related to Covid-19 itself. Of course, physicians are still learning about the effects of Covid-19 and back pain is not usually a symptom of it. However, if you have the general muscle aches, headache, fever, chills, cough or short of breath along with your back pain, it is possible that you could be dealing with a Covid-19 infection. Recognize your symptoms and do not hesitate to get yourself checked if you think it could be Covid-19.

Sundial Clinics wrote that back pain due to Covid seems to occur later in the disease. It is unlikely to be an early symptom. It can even come on as you seem to be improving from the main symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell and fatigue. Of course, if you had back pain before getting Covid, you can get it again and then the virus can make this worse. They go onto explain that back pain with Covid will feel different. It is likely to feel like a deep, intense pain rather than sharp, stabbing pain that often comes on with a joint or muscle spasm of ordinary back pain. Importantly, Covid back pain is less likely to ease with changes in posture. For instance, ordinary back pain often feels better when you’re lying down, standing or, less commonly, sitting. Covid back pain is likely to persist in all positions but may be worse in some positions.

The muscle pains connected to Covid-19 can be felt in the upper and lower back so it’s just being aware of your change in pain that you need to think about. Disc herniations, spinal arthritis and lumbar muscle strain — haven’t changed due to the pandemic. However, what has changed are people’s lifestyles and daily habits. We are sitting down more now than we have ever done. Our eating habits have changed and a lot of people have gained weight which will contribute to your back pain. The Covid virus creates havoc by increasing inflammation. If this inflammation settles in a back or pelvic joint then pain will be the result. It is a bit of a viscous circle.

Patients develop muscular strain or disc herniations from using a laptop and sitting on a poorly supported couch, bed or dining chair for long hours — something that would not have happened before the pandemic. Working from home has meant a complete change in our routines which could then contribute to lower levels of activity and further pain.

An article in The Express points out that joint and muscle problems are common and include shoulder, neck, back and knee problems. Many people will have had these at some point in their life. Most of these problems are not serious and improve or get better quickly, however if accompanied with any other symptoms, they should be carefully monitored.

A GP on the Hackensack Meridian Health website has come up with a brilliant acronym, “B-A-C-K” to help her patients remember what they need to do to prevent and treat back pain:

  • B – Bust-a-Move.

Make movement a part of your day, whether you walk, bike, hike, stretch or dance.

  • A – Alarm.

Set an alarm and make movement a routine. Dr. Parikh suggests doing some type of activity every half-hour, such as stretching or walking around, even while working.

  • C – Calm.

Research shows that anxiety and lack of sleep — which some people are experiencing during COVID-19 — can contribute to clenched muscles and pain in the body. Take steps to reduce stress through meditation or other calming activities.

  • K – Keep. 

Keep the environment ergonomically friendly by using a supportive chair with a lumbar pillow, avoiding hunching, elevating your computer screen and making other adjustments to reduce stress on the body.

Source: Hackensack Meridian Health, Sundial Clinics, The Express

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COVID-19 AND FIBROMYALGIA SYMPTOMS…

Any Fibromyalgia sufferer can explain in seconds what the pain feels like. Living with fibromyalgia means coping with a number of symptoms: widespread muscle pain (myalgia), extreme tenderness in many areas of the body, sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, and mood issues like depression and anxiety. But how does having fibromyalgia impact your risk of COVID-19 and ability to manage these symptoms while staying at home?

Well, according to an article on Creaky Joints it depends on which type of fibromyalgia you have?

Yes, you read it right, which type of fibromyalgia do you suffer from? As far as I have ever known there has just been one type of fibromyalgia. But apparently there are two types of fibromyalgia, primary and secondary, says Petros Efithimiou, MD, FACR, a rheumatologist who practices in New York City.

Primary fibromyalgia, which is the most common form, is a chronic pain syndrome in which the body and brain process pain and stimuli differently, explains Dr. Efithimiou. Importantly: “There is no immunosuppression.” Basically, in primary fibromyalgia, the causes are not known,

Secondary fibromyalgia, on the other hand, often occurs in patients with conditions that can affect the immune system, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, surgery, or ankylosing spondylitis. In this case, your immune system may be suppressed and you could be considered at a higher risk for COVID-19, especially if you have additional co-occurring health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.

Knowing the difference is important.

Individuals may believe that fibromyalgia is an immune system illness since they are regularly alluded to and treated by rheumatologists, and a portion of their side effects may mirror those of lupus or other rheumatology patients. Yet, fibromyalgia is certainly not an immune system sickness, which happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells and tissues.

Very Well Health points out that finding out if your fibromyalgia is primary or secondary tends to be frequently overlooked or glossed over. If you have been diagnosed with primary or secondary fibromyalgia this does not mean that you are more susceptible to catching Covid-19. However Web MD do point out that if you also have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, this could put you at more risk which makes it all a bit confusing.

Recent articles just imply that if you do catch Covid-19 and you are also suffering from fibromyalgia you could quite possibly have a flare up of fibromyalgia. But, with so many fibro sufferers living with some similar symptoms to Covid-19 it is important says Very Well Health that “While there is considerable overlap, some of the common symptoms of COVID-19 aren’t associated with fibromyalgia, including:11

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose

Being on alert for those tell-tale signs can help you distinguish between your typical symptoms and coronavirus infection.”

A recent survey on Covid-19 and fibromyalgia written on the FMA UK found that indeed all participants reported feeling anxious about the pandemic. Most often, participants pointed to being worried about:

  1. The impact the pandemic will have on their personal relationships (friendships, romantic, family, or other)
  2. The possibility of a family member contracting COVID-19
  3. Financial hardships as a result of the pandemic

Interestingly, the same categories did not necessarily evoke the strongest feelings of anxiety. When rating anxiety on a 0 to 100 scale, where 0 is no anxiety and 100 is the strongest possible anxiety, participants pointed to the following as the most worrisome:

  1. Financial hardships as a result of the pandemic (average rating of 64)
  2. Access to medication during the pandemic (average rating of 64)
  3. Home loss or eviction as a result of the pandemic (average rating of 62)

Most importantly, the researchers found that an increase in COVID-19 anxiety was associated with an increase in reported pain levels. The authors emphasised, however, that this does not imply that COVID-19 anxiety caused fibromyalgia pain. The study demonstrates that mental health in fibromyalgia can be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But beyond being present, anxiety may be directly related to worsening pain. 

Source: Creaky Joints, Very Well Health, Web MD, and FMAUK