MYOFASCIAL PAIN -v- DISC PAIN…

As most of my readers know I suffer from chronic back pain after four previous spinal fusion surgeries only alleviated the pain for a matter of years before it came back.

Nowadays spinal fusion is not used as the first choice for prolapsed discs with pain management being the first treatment and only if nerves are compressed is it used as another option.

The problem with spinal fusion especially if you have more than one surgery is the pressure it puts on the disc below and above your fusion.

Another condition which you can also suffer from after any type of surgery is Myofascial Pain Syndrome which is a chronic painful muscle disorder and is common if you have experienced a muscle injury. Over time these myofascial restrictions can lead to poor biomechanics, altered structural alignment, compromised blood supply and pain. Other causes of myofascial pain are injuries to an intervertebral disc, general fatigue, repetitive motions, and some medical conditions.

It is characterised by the myofascial trigger points and the symptoms include persistent or worsening pain, deep and aching muscle pain, tender knots located in the muscles and pain after exercise or sporting activity.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is the name given to pain caused by trigger points and fascia (connective tissue) adhesions in the body, usually in muscle tissue, and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues.

Myo = muscle
Fascia = the main connective tissue in the body
Release = to let go, ease pressure

Treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, pain killers, physical therapy, stretching, massage therapy and trigger point injections.

A trigger point injection is either a cortisone injection or dry needling. Pain relief is quick and helps in continuing physical therapy. Trigger point injections can also be used for people suffering from degenerative disc disease.

Understanding the cause of your pain is an important step to finding an effective solution. It may involve a series of sessions and an at home program to keep the area strong.

Disc pain can come from a disc bulge or prolapse but you can also get myofascial pain which could be treated conservatively instead of surgery. Fibromyalgia patients can also suffer from myofascial pain. According to history, Sir William Gowers introduced the term fibrositis for a common, but idiopathic, localized form of muscular rheumatism that is now recognised as myofascial pain syndrome in 1904. And, despite the intervening years, it still constitutes the largest group of unrecognised and undertreated acute and chronic pain problems. Some people (like myself) have also been told they could have Fibromyalgia, previously named ‘fibrositis’.

My neck and arm pain have been giving me a lot of problems since last summer and after extensive tests, MRI’s, ct scans and more it was decided that a nerve block would help with the pain. There is never any guarantee with any injection but they hope to give the patient a few months of pain relief.

Nerve block injections into your neck for a disc bulge can be quite dangerous as they are quite tricky to do and they go through the front of your neck. I had this injection about six weeks ago. It’s not a very nice injection (if any are) but I knew the pain consultant had hit the spot and soon felt total relief. Unfortunately, it was short lived and only gave me pain relief for a few weeks. Not all the pain has come back but most of it as did the pins and needles.

I then had another appointment at the pain clinic and after looking at my MRI’s etc I was given a quick check where my pain consultant felt that the pain I now have could well be myofascial and not from the bulging disc so he has booked me in for a series of steroid injections in my shoulders.

I guess with any spinal pain after you have had all the tests it’s then worth trying alternative treatments well before you resort to surgery which is something I have always said I would avoid having.

 

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A ROUGH COUPLE OF DAYS…

I guess we all get our share of rough days but mine have definitely exceeded that over the last few days.

As many of you know I am waiting to see a spinal surgeon next week about my constant pain going down my arm from my neck as well as pins and needles down to my middle finger.  Initially, we thought it may have been my ulnar nerve again. I say ‘again’ as I had surgery the year before last for a trapped ulnar nerve which was a total success but they said it can come back even after surgery.

A nerve conduction test showed no problem with the ulnar nerve so I was then sent to have an MRI scan. Those results have shown that I have another disc bulge which is compressing a nerve and giving me the pins and needles and pain and it also showed that I have arthritis in that area.

Mine is definitely in the ‘wear and tear’ category as I have had two previous surgeries on the C3/4 area of my spine which has meant the disc below it has had to do all the work. The worst pain is doing the simplest of things like cleaning my teeth or drying my hair so I am hoping my appointment with a spinal surgeon next week is a success.

The MRI scan also showed a disc bulge at level L3/4 above my previous spinal surgery. I miss the facet joint injections that I had for this but keep myself topped up on my meds. During the last month I’ve had a couple of bad spasms with it which left me completely bent over and unable to straighten but it then settles down.

I also noticed that my foot was becoming more and more numb underneath but never thought anything else about it until yesterday when I stood up and it completely gave way and I went over on my foot, not once but twice. The pain was so acute I thought I was going to throw up.

Last night we iced and elevated it but I was unable to stand on it and could only get from a to b on my hands and knees which played havoc with my neck. After a terrible nights sleep we decided I should pop to A&E and get it checked out.

I am now on crutches and have the foot strapped up as I have a bad sprain but fortunately no break. The only problem is that a sprain can take as long as a break to heal so at the moment I am following the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) routine and hope it settles sooner rather than later.

They have told me I should mention to my spinal consultant what has happened with the foot and the numbness as this could definitely be related to my lumber spine.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER FROM AN ‘N:REM’ MATTRESS FOR MY READERS…

The NREM Mattress Company are offering my readers an exclusive offer of £250 off their mattress as part of their Winter sale. In order to get this offer just put my special offer code of  BACKPAINBLOG250.

As you know I have raved on their mattress in previous posts which is as individual as you. You can customise your sleep with 5 comfort changing zones that give you soft comfort for pressure points and firmer support to maintain a good posture. Change your set up at any time to suit your individual needs. They say that 94% of their customers have improved their sleep.

The mattress is on a unique hybrid of 5 comfort changing zones, up to 2000 pocket springs and an added temperature regulating foam for your most refreshing sleep yet.

Simply unzip the mattress cover to reveal 5 foam inserts in soft, medium and firm densities. Rearrange these inserts for soft comfort and firm support that’s tailored to you.

Each side of the mattress can be set up differently, so whatever your sleeping needs, the NREM fits you.

*£250 off is not valid on the 0% interest payment plan. My original voucher code BACKPAINBLOG will entitle customers to 1 month free if you chose the payment plan option.

ACTIPATCH ADVANCED LONG-LASTING PAIN RELIEF ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE THERAPY…

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I was sent Actipatch for muscle and joint pain relief. ActiPatch® is a new and clinically proven
drug-free technology in the fight against chronic muscle and joint pain.

The Actipatch  works by helping blood flow in the body regulate by electrical signals that travel along nerves. The Actipatch  modifies these nerve signals, providing pain relief by enhancing blood flow which reduces inflammation and restores the injured tissue to a healthy state.

You wont feel heat with the Actipatch but you will feel the low level energy that is gently pulsed into the cells to heal damaged tissue. It should start working after about 2 -3 hours and should decrease your pain for around 8 – 24 hours if you keep the Actipatch on.

There is a warning on the pack that the Actipatch should not be used by women who are pregnant or think they are pregnant. It’s easy to apply and they tell you to place it directly over the source of pain, They also have a back wrap to keep it in place and a knee wrap.

As most of my readers know I suffer from chronic low back and neck pain as well as Fibromyalgia so I decided to try the back wrap with the Actipatch placed underneath it.  Although I definitely felt some pain relief I was unable to lower my pain medication but a week later my right knee started to play up so I decided I would try the patch with the adhesives ad place it on the top of my knee. After only a couple of hours the pain went away completely, and so far has not come back again.

The Actipatch  has to be ideal for any type of muscle or joint pain. On their website The Fibromyalgia Support Group undertook a chronic pain survey and concluded that ActiPatch®’s innovative technology “is an invaluable new pain therapy that can greatly benefit the majority of Fibromyalgia sufferers, helping them effectively and safely self-manage their pain and improve quality of life²”. From this, 79% of responders reported a reduction in their pain having used ActiPatch®.

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STRUGGLING…

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Most back pain and fibromyalgia sufferers can go through a difficult episode once in a while. An episode that no matter what you take, medication wise and no matter what you try therapy wise, you still struggle with the pain.

The episode I am going through at the moment started before Christmas after a three week respite period from having some facet joint injections. I have tried lots of different types of injection therapy from trigger point to epidurals but this was my first try at facet joint injections.

It was explained to me that the pain relief could be for a matter of days, weeks or more but if I got good pain relief then this was good news as it proved that I some of the pain was obviously from arthritis in my facet joints. An MRI in July last year showed that I had a moderate prolapsed disc but it was not pressing on any nerves and some arthritis had shown up in the facet joints.

The pain free period was the best pain free time I have had in years and so when it came back like a ton of bricks it really knocked me for six. Previous injections had always helped a little and for longer but I had never been as pain free in my lumber spine before.

Since it came back with a vengeance it has slowly but surely just got worse and worse and is now causing me a lot of distress and discomfort. I have a telephone appointment with the pain team at the hospital where I get my injections done next Tuesday. I’m not really sure what they will suggest to help me at the moment as you can only have a certain amount of steroid in a year. I guess I can only hope for some good news.

I’m not one to wallow in my discomfort in fact to keep my mind off my pain I got cracking with another book I was writing which I have just sent through to Amazon to be published which meant I could tick off  one of my New Year resolutions. I love writing a New Year resolution list, I find it inspires me on a daily basis. My list is quite long, and so I will probably not get through them all, but I think it’s more achievable if you have quite a long list. Have you made a New Year resolution list ?