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.

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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.

NATURAL PAIN KILLERS AND PAIN ENHANCERS…

Your brain and spinal cord actually produce their own pain killers. These are similar to pain relieving drugs like morphine.

Two of these are called endorphins and enkephalins, which, when they are released, they attach themselves to spinal receptors in your brain, which produce ‘stop-pain’ messages.

On the other hand, some substances in your body do completely the opposite. They intensify your pain. A protein called substance P then stimulates nerve endings at the site of the injury, increasing pain messages.

Other pain enhancers work by activating normally silent nerve cells in the injured area. This then sends pain messages which can actually worsen the pain you are in and make the area of pain worse.

Some herbs for natural pain relief include…
  • Ginger. … 
  • Turmeric. … 
  • Capsaicin. … 
  • Valerian Root. … 
  • Magnesium. … 
  • Cats Claw. … 
  • Boswellia. … 
  • White willow bark.

but always check with your Doctor first before starting to take any natural pain relievers.

Dr. Jokers have their list of natural pain relievers

LIVING WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS – WHAT DOES THIS ACTUALLY MEAN?…

What does living with a chronic illness actually mean?

A chronic illness is an illness that is persistent and long lasting. It is a permanent illness/condition that may not be life threatening in the foreseeable future, but it’s something you will have to suffer from and live with. The chances are there is no cure for it but you will control it with a cocktail of remedies from drugs to alternative therapies.

Some chronic illnesses get worse over time, and others come and go over months or years. There are lots of different chronic illnesses, and each has different causes and symptoms. Some examples are:

  • epilepsy
  • asthma
  • cystic fibrosis
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • depression and other mental health issues
  • Fibromyalgia

Chronic illness can also influence your ability to work. Morning stiffness, decreased range of motion, and other physical limitations may force you to change your work activities and environment. A decreased ability to work may also lead to financial problems.

As you learn more about your illness and how to take care of yourself, your feelings may change. Fear or shock may give way to anger because you have an illness. You may feel sad or depressed because you may not be able to live the way you used to live.

Chronic or long-term illness and its treatment pose special problems. You need to learn how to:

  • live with the physical effects of the illness
  • deal with the treatments
  • make sure there is clear communication with doctors
  • maintain emotional balance to cope with negative feelings
  • maintain confidence and a positive self-image

When you’re living with a long-term condition, it can be helpful to learn everything you can about your symptoms and treatment options. Ask your doctor specific questions about your condition, but don’t stop there.

Your local library and patient associations for specific conditions are excellent resources for increasing your knowledge base. You can also find information online, although some sources are more accurate and reliable than others. Join a support group either online or at your local hospital. Support groups can help in so many ways that it’s definitely worth finding one for your condition.

Here are 10 helpful strategies from Harvard Health for coping with a chronic condition.

  • Get a prescription for information. The more you know about your condition, the better equipped you’ll be to understand what’s happening and why. First direct your questions to your doctor or nurse. If you want to do more in-depth research, ask them about trusted sources of medical information on the Web.
  • Make your doctor a partner in care. We’d put this one more bluntly: Take responsibility for your care, and don’t leave everything to your doctor. One way to do this is to listen to your body and track its changes. If you have hypertension, learn to check your blood pressure. If your heart has rhythm problems, check your pulse. For heart failure, weigh yourself every day and chart your symptoms. This kind of home monitoring lets you spot potentially harmful changes before they bloom into real trouble.
  • Build a team. Doctors don’t have all the answers. Seek out the real experts. A nurse might be a better resource for helping you stop smoking or start exercising. You’ll get the best nutrition information from a dietitian.
  • Coordinate your care. In an ideal world, the specialists you see for your heart, your diabetes, and your arthritis would talk with each other every now and then about your medical care. In the real world, this doesn’t usually happen. A primary care physician can put the pieces together to make sure your treatments are good for the whole you.
  • Make a healthy investment in yourself. Part of the treatment for almost any chronic condition involves lifestyle changes. You know the ones we mean — stopping smoking, losing weight, exercising more, and shifting to healthier eating habits. Although these steps are sometimes relegated to the back burner, they shouldn’t be. The people who make such changes are more likely to successfully manage a chronic condition than those who don’t. Investing the time and energy to make healthy changes usually pays handsome dividends, ranging from feeling better to living longer.
  • Make it a family affair. The lifestyle changes you make to ease a chronic condition such as high cholesterol or heart disease are good for almost everyone. Instead of going it alone, invite family members or friends to join in.
  • Manage your medications. Remembering to take one pill a day is tough; managing 10 or more is daunting. Knowing about the drugs you take — why you take them, how best to take them, and what problems to watch out for — is as important as learning about your condition. Talking with your doctor, nurse, or a pharmacist can put drug information into perspective.
  • Beware of depression. Dark, dreary moods plague a third or more of people with chronic diseases. Depression can keep you from taking important medications, seeing your doctor when you need to, or pursuing healthy habits. Read up on the signs of depression. Let your doctor know if you think you’re depressed or heading in that direction.
  • Reach out. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals aren’t always the best reservoir for information about what it’s like to recover from open-heart surgery or live with heart failure. To get the real scoop, look for a support group in your area and talk with people who have been through what you are facing.
  • Plan for end-of-life decisions. If the diagnosis of a chronic condition, or life with one, has you thinking about death, channel those thoughts to the kind of care you want at the end of your life. Spelling out whether you want the most aggressive care until the very end, or whether you’d prefer hospice care and a do-not-resuscitate order, can save you and your loved ones a lot of confusion and anguish later on.

TEN GIFTS FOR SOMEONE IN CHRONIC PAIN…

My top ten Christmas gifts for people suffering from #fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

  1. Walking Sticks Online – an online marketplace full of unique and trendy walking sticks to suit everyone’s budget and style. From walking sticks with animal handles to ladies selection of petite handles and many more. Plus a collection of accessories for your walking sticks like this ‘Carry Wallet’ for £4.50
  2. Pain Relief Cushions – another online marketplace for all types of shapes and sizes of pain relief cushions to pop in your microwave or your freezer. From £16.99
  3. The Sciatica Relief Cushion – for anyone suffering from sciatica and low back pain.The Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion is an entirely new form of relief for Sciatica, developed by people who have experience of suffering and treating sciatic pain, from £34.00
  4. Joya Shoes Bliss for Back – shoes designed specifically for people with back painJoya shoes have come up with a type of shoe which can solve all those problems. The positive effect of a soft, springy surface on the locomotive system has been put to good use by physiotherapist for a long time now and is a highly topical subject in the fields of prevention/rehabilitation. The Joya brand has developed a shoe which makes use of this principle. The soft, supple material of the patented Joya sole means the load on the sole of your feet is ideally distributed as you walk and stand instead of being concentrated only on certain spots from £154.95e
  5. Dreamland Electric Heat Pad – I could not manage without mine. There are other makes on the market but this is my favourite. With new Intelliheat Technology for perfect temperature control.Instant heat up with 5 heat settings to choose from. Machine washable at 30 degrees. Very low running costs, less than 1p per session3 hour treatment auto shut off for your safety and peace of min, from £32 
  6. The All New Kindle Fire HD – I have the right music, the right books and the right audiobooks to help me relax and use it every single day. I think probably the best place to buy one without a doubt is from Amazon and new ones start at £79.99 
  7. A Massage from Groupon – all people in pain appreciate a massage and Groupon has some amazing offers all over the UK from as little as £15. 
  8. The  N:rem Sleep System which has an offer for my readers. If you wish to purchase a mattress you can have £30 off your order  – just quote BACKPAINBLOG at the check out.
  9. You can try the N:rem mattress for 100 nights in the comfort of your own home. This will give you the time to ensure you relax and get the perfect set-up to meet your needs. You can sleep on it and adjust the comfort and support up and down your body until it is just right for you, your partner can do the same on their side. The N:rem mattress provides the ability to tailor each side differently offering different levels of support wherever they’re needed. Simply unzip the N:rem’s cotton top cover and you’ll discover two sets of 5 variable density foam tablets,  from £540
10. iPad cushion -the perfect gift for all # fibromyalgia sufferers so they do not have to hold their iPads from Etsy from £7.00