IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN NECK CONDITIONS AND FIBROMYALGIA?…

Having had two previous cervical surgeries and suffering a great deal with neck pain this year, it was fascinating to read an article on Pinterest which said ‘ Is there a link between neck conditions and fibromyalgia ?’

The website ‘Upper Cervical Awareness‘ says there has been some interesting research that may point toward a link between fibromyalgia and problems in the neck. According to researchers in Germany, there is a higher incidence of neck and jaw problems in patients with fibromyalgia.

The 555 patients in the study were all experiencing either neck problems, jaw issues, or both. Of the 555, 63% met the criteria for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. In fact, 83% of the patients with fibromyalgia were experiencing facial asymmetry.

I have to say that I do not suffer from any jaw problems just my neck and cervical spine.

Upper Cervical Awareness point out that although the study didn’t comment on the reason for the link, researchers recommended ‘a multidisciplinary approach to care that addresses neck and jaw problems. ‘

They go on to explain that when the top bone of the neck (atlas) is out of alignment, even by a fraction of a millimeter, it can affect the surrounding structures such as the muscles and other soft tissue of the neck and face. As a result, many people with an atlas misalignment experience either neck pain, face pain, jaw problems, or other similar symptoms.’

As a teenager I suffered a lot with what Fibrositis ( now fibromyalgia ) and it’s really strange that my pain was mainly cervical pain at that stage. My lumber pain started with a slipped disc which then became prolapsed over the years but reading through the lines of this article I feel I was definitely starting with fibromyalgia (as it’s called today) way back then.

Without these studies, even if some prove nothing we will not be able to truly understand all about fibromyalgia and when people first started suffering from it and what their first symptoms were.

As Upper Cervical Awareness point out ‘clearly, it is worth looking into an atlas misalignment as the underlying source of fibromyalgia symptoms.’

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MY CERVICAL NERVE BLOCK INJECTION…

Yesterday I went in hospital for a nerve block injection into my cervical spine where I have been having lots of problems since last June. Surgery had been talked about but then an injection was a preferred choice which is also used to diagnose the source of the pain. A cervical nerve block injection is where a steroid and local anaesthetic are injected into the nerve root. The medication can decrease inflammation in the nerve root and will often, but not always then reduce the pain.

The consultant uses a live X-ray image (fluoroscopy) to very carefully insert and guide the needle to the spinal nerve then a contrast dye is used to confirm the needle placement. Next, the medication is slowly injected, and the needle removed.

In 2001 I had a cervical trigger point injection done in a side room at the hospital and not in the X-Ray department. Unfortunately it went very wrong and I collapsed and had to be resuscitated. The memory lasted a long time and I did say I would never have one in my spine again.

Since then I have had many different types of injections from epidurals, trigger points and facet joint injections in my spine, but all in my lumber spine. I have to admit I was a little nervous before having this second cervical injection as I have never had a nerve block before.

I explained my fears to all who were looking after me yesterday and they could not have be more sympathetic and kind. But, my consultant did explain to me that he felt the injection should be placed in at the C8 level and not C6/7 as requested as he could clearly see from the CT and MRI scan that C6/7 was where my other metal work and fusions were. Trying to inject around the metal work would not work nor relieve the pain.

I must admit it did throw me at first but it all made complete sense as I have had two cervical fusions so the last one had to be at that level and C8 had to be where the disc was giving me all the problems. The minute I told him my symptoms he was certain it was that disc but he did explain to me it was not an easy one to access. It also carried quite high risks with it but he understood that I really did not want surgery which probably had higher risks involved with that also.

He really took his time and explained every detail along the way. I cannot say it was not uncomfortable because even with a local anaesthetic once the medication started hitting the nerve boy did I know about it.

Today I’m ‘extremely perky’ as my sister put it after a great sleep last night, no pins and needles, no pain when I did simple tasks like cleaning my teeth and drying my hair. As the day has gone on the pain has got easier and easier and it’s just ‘amazing .’

Before the consultant left me yesterday I asked him if the injection was a success how many could I have in a year. ‘None, as far as I’m concerned ‘, he said ‘It’s to tricky a procedure .’

I felt a bit despondent about his reply so when I got home I had a quick look on Google about the area I ‘d had the injection and soon realised why he said it. An article from Inside Radiology wrote ‘Accurate needle placement, high-resolution image guidance and skilled specialist doctors are essential to avoid the major complications that arise as a result of poor quality imaging.

Luckily this time I had the treatment done in the right environment with a great consultant.

DEALING WITH DEPRESSION WITH CHRONIC PAIN …

Depression is quite common with people suffering from chronic pain. I mean who wouldn’t feel a bit low when trying to cope with constant pain but there is help out there to deal with this type of depression. Research shows that some of these antidepressants may help with some kinds of long-lasting pain.

Web MD state that Doctors don’t know exactly why antidepressants help with pain. They may affect chemicals in your spinal cord — you may hear them called neurotransmitters — that send pain signals to your brain. 

It’s important to note that antidepressantsdon’t work on pain right away. It can be a week or so before you feel any better. In fact, you may not get their full effect for several weeks.

After my second spinal surgery I was put on a very low dose of an antidepressant which I took over a period of 20+years. I am still on this antidepressant ( Prozac) even though over the many years I haven taken it there have been numerous articles on the pros and cons of taking it for so long. In fact, only last year the Professor of Medicine whom I call my Medicine Man who I see on a regular basis, suggested that maybe I should stop taking it.

I started with reducing it to one every other day and had no ill effects except that I wasn’t feeling as perky as I usually am. I put it down to the fact that at that time last year I ways constantly going back and forth to stay at my Dads so that I could go and be with him in hospital. He was in three months and my sister and I would do three week shifts of going in for most of the day over a period of three weeks then coming home for a rest. Sadly Dad passed away in hospital by which stage I had already started increasing my drug to nearly what I had been on before as I had an even bigger reason for feeling low.

On the NHS website they say that even though a type of antidepressant called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) weren’t originally designed to be painkillers, there’s evidence to suggest they’re effective in treating chronic (long-term) nerve pain in some people.

Chronic nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is caused by nerve damage or other problems with the nerves, and is often unresponsive to regular painkillers, such as paracetamol.

Amitriptyline is a TCA that’s usually used to treat neuropathic pain. I also take this for my neuropathic pain and it also helps me to sleep better.

We are all different and try to deal with chronic pain, stress and even loss in different ways but for me personally I felt this one little pill I took every morning worked for me. When I went back for my review with my Medicine Man I told him what I had been through and said I felt for me personally it was one drug I would like to continue taking indefinitely if he felt that was safe. He said that every single person will have different views and reactions to different types of antidepressants but if I had found one that I truly felt helped me ‘feel good’ every day no matter what I was going through then he was happy for me to take it indefinitely.

I know there are lots and lots of alternative things to try for any type of depression from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Group Therapy and much more but I do feel that some people are nervous of taking medication on a long term basis but if that works for you, then why not.

Try everything that is available to you and when you find something that works for you then stick with it even it is taking a daily dose of medication. Feeling low and depressed is awful and most people in chronic pain must feel that at some stage but life really is to short to feel that way on a daily basis so why not try something just for you to help you feel better on the outside even if the pain on the inside is still there.

Some great websites and organisations that can help with chronic pain and depression are Away With Pain.

BLB Solicitors have a long list with links to UK support and help with depression from pain. The NHS also has details on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the UK and how to find a therapist.

THE AWFUL PAIN OF A TRAPPED/PINCHED #NERVE…

A trapped/pinched #nerve pain in any area of your body can literally stop you in your tracks. A pinched #nerve refers to a certain kind of damage to a #nerve or group of nerves. It’s caused when a disc, bone, or muscle places increased pressure on the #nerve.

Pinched nerve signs and symptoms include:
  • Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve.
  • Sharp, aching or burning pain, which may radiate outward.
  • Tingling, pins and needles sensations (paresthesia)
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area.
  • Frequent feeling that a foot or hand has “fallen asleep”

A pinched #nerve can occur at a number of sites in your body. A herniated disk in your lower spine, for example, may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg. Likewise, a pinched #nerve in your wrist can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome).

They say that with rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched #nerve within a few days or weeks. Sometimes, surgery is needed to relieve pain from a pinched #nerve.

Last year I was diagnosed with a trapped ulnar nerve. The ulnar #nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. … The most common place for compression of the #nerve is behind the inside part of the elbow. Ulnar #nerve compression at the elbow is called “cubital tunnel syndrome.” Numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers are common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome.

After months of conservative treatment, I was told I needed surgery. Ulnar #nerve decompression is a surgical procedure designed to explore the region around the elbow through which the ulnar nerve passes. The ulnar nerve is responsible for the “funny bone” phenomenon when you hit your elbow. The surgery involves a 3-4 inch incision which is made along the elbow in between the two bony prominences that are on the same side of the arm as the thumb. The incision is taken deep enough to be able to visualize the ulnar #nerve. The #nerve is then explored into the upper arm to the point that is passes through the triceps muscle. It is explored in the forearm until it passes through a muscle in the forearm. Once the entire nerve has been explored through this region and is seen to be well decompressed, the overlying connective tissue and skin are closed with stitches.

Quite soon after the surgery, I was completely pain-free with no more pins and needles in my hand or pain in the arm or grip problems. As far as I was concerned the surgery was a complete success.  Fast forward 11 months on and the problem started again only this time the pain started in my neck and went along my shoulders, down the inside of the top of my arm and into my elbow with pins and needles in my pinky and ring fingers. Gripping has now become absolute so anything that needs opening I need help with. Simple tasks like cleaning my teeth, blow drying my hair and even spraying perfume give me awful pain in my elbow.

It came back suddenly while on holiday and I initially thought that maybe I had just aggravated something while swimming but from May onwards it has just got progressively worse and worse. I have now seen a physiotherapist who has done a thorough neurological check and checked over my nerves and feels it is definitely a trapped ulnar #nerve but what we do not know is where it is trapped.

The physiotherapist has booked me in for some #nerve conduction tests which I had last year which will confirm if its this particular #nerve that is trapped and then she wants to follow up with an MRI of my cervical spine to see if it is trapped from there. The ulnar #nerve arises from the medial cord of the brachial plexus with predominant contribution from the C8-T1 nerve roots so it could start with a problem in my neck. They say that Cubital tunnel syndrome is the second most common peripheral #nerve compression syndrome of the upper extremity following carpal tunnel syndrome.

For me now it’s a waiting game which I must admit is proving to be a painful one. I can now only work on my laptop for short intervals which I am finding really frustrating as my life revolves around my blog writing and access to the internet. I have looked at how I could maybe talk into the computer to write the posts but it’s quite a bit harder than typing as you have to know exactly what you want to say when you speak. I am hoping surgery will not be an option this time but at the moment cannot see how they can get rid of this debilitating pain.