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.

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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.