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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

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LOW BACK PAIN – IS IT A SLIPPED DISC? Plus 10 WAYS TO AVOID LOW BACK PAIN…

What is the cause of your back pain? Is it sciatica, a strain, early pregnancy, Covid-19, overweight, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia or a slipped disc?

NHS England describes back pain as the ‘single largest cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain accounting for 11% of the total disability of the UK population’. In fact, the country lost a reported 30.8m sick days due to problems associated with achy lumbar regions, back, neck and upper limb problems in 2016. So it’s clear that lower backache is preventing many of us from working and carrying out everyday activities comfortably.

A slipped or herniated disc is among the most incapacitating of back agony issues – once in a while with added indications, for example, the pounding leg torment of sciatica. When you have a ‘slipped’ (prolapsed) disc, a disc does not actually slip.  What happens is that part of the inner softer part of the disc (the nucleus pulposus) bulges out (herniates) through a weakness in the outer part of the disc. A prolapsed disc is sometimes called a herniated disc. The bulging disc may press on nearby structures such as a nerve coming from the spinal cord. Some inflammation also develops around the prolapsed part of the disc. Inflammation may irritate a nerve and also causes swelling, which may put pressure on a nerve.

This is a condition where the focal point of a spinal disc swells outwards and presses onto a nerve.  The spinal discs go about as safeguards and through an assortment of causes, including injury, helpless stance and general “mileage” (which means steady disintegration), the dividers of the discs can get more fragile. If the centre of the disc pushes out, this can cause the disc wall to bulge and that can be when pain strikes!

The usual advice is to carry on as normal as much as possible. Painkillers may help. Physical treatments such as spinal manipulation may also help or IDD therapy, exercises or injections. Surgery may be an option if the symptoms persist.

The long-term outcome of low back pain is generally favorable, but persistent symptoms affect millions of individuals. However there are three treatments which do not require surgery and have been very successful at treating slipped/prolapsed discs.

#1. Anti Inflammatory Courses…
Due to the fact that herniated discs can often times be incredibly sensitive, especially in acute cases, you may need to undergo a short course of anti inflammatories.

Once your general practitioner gives you the go ahead you can begin to take these types of medication which are a very effective herniated disc treatment.

#2. Exercises…
I know that the mere thought of moving causes you extreme mental anguish, but these types of exercises are actually designed not to aggravate your bulging discs.

These are low impact exercise routines which are geared towards reducing the bulged disc back into its correct location in between vertebrae.

#3. Lying Correctly…
Whenever you lie down, ensure that you are lying down correctly. You should always prop yourself up when you lie down and while resting slightly on your elbows for a few seconds.

Back in the early 80’s I had my first disc bulge problem and back then you were put into bed attached to traction and left to lie it out for a few days. Unfortunately for me I ended up with a trapped nerve in my leg and lost all sensation of it on one side so I was soon taken off traction. Over the following seven years every time my disc bulge I would visit a chiropractor and a physiotherapist but eventually in 1987 I had to have my first of many surgeries to remove a prolapsed disc and fuse my low back.

What followed on from that initial surgery was cervical disc problems as well as lumber and a further two emergency surgeries to fuse them and correct a kyphosis ( curvature of the spine that causes the top of the back to appear more rounded than normal). My pain now is from the discs above and below all my previous surgeries which all have bulges as they have had to work much harder due to the fusion above them.

Spinal surgery is nothing like this now and most is keyhole and you are in an out of hospital within days whereas mine took weeks and months to recover from. Looking after your back is the key to avoiding any disc related problems and ten key ways to look after it are :

  1. Keep active
  2. Keep fit
  3. Keep a healthy weight
  4. Eat healthy
  5. Keep your posture correct
  6. Take regular exercise
  7. Do not smoke
  8. Take great care when lifting
  9. Get plenty of rest
  10. Take great care when gardening.

Article Source: Ezine article (1) Ezine article (2)



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ACUPUNCTURE, ANOTHER NATURAL APPROACH TO PAIN RELIEF…

I wrote this post about acupuncture in October 2020 but this week I have concentrated on talking about the different types of healing methods which all include points on your body. From hand reflexology to Auricular Therapy.

2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out each year, traditional acupuncture is one of the most popular complementary therapies practiced in the UK today. Yet statistics show that 1 in 5 of us would only consider acupuncture for sleep as a last resort. Almost a quarter of people admit they didn’t realise acupuncture could benefit them despite its widely recognised health benefits. It is also now available on the NHS.

The NYR Natural News wrote that ‘Treating children with chronic pain can be complex, due to kids’ vulnerability while they’re growing and the fear of causing long-term effects. To make matters worse, studies into the therapeutic options for treating children’s pain is limited’.

Angela Johnson, MSTOM, MPH, practitioner of Chinese medicine of Rush’s Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, led a recent study that found that acupuncture may be a safe and effective add-on integrative medicine treatment for chronic pain in children. Results of the study were published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies‘.

Back in 2009, after having numerous spinal surgeries and also being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I was at a stage where no matter what gambit of drugs I was taking I was still in a lot of pain.

I was already having regular aromatherapy massage on my back which I found amazing, but the relief was short-lived, so I decided to go down the complementary therapy route and try something new.

Acupuncture was available at my NHS pain clinic, so I was able to go for regular sessions which were to mainly treat my neck and arm pains. I found these to be beneficial and could notice a difference by the end of each session but as my treatments were only one session every two weeks, I soon found that my pain was back before my next session.

Acupuncture works by stimulating your own body’s healing mechanisms to help with pain and recovery. The concept has been part of traditional Chinese medicine since 1000BC where it was written in scripts on the holistic concept on how it can help heal the body.

It can be helpful in treating health issues that are typically associated with ageing says Natural Health Magazine. “To help support your hormone balance, brain functioning, bone strength, hearing, eyesight and teeth as they age, it’s important to tonify the kidney energy, “ says David. “A powerful acupuncture point is ‘kidney 3,’ also known as ‘supreme stream’, which is at the source point of the kidney energy channel, located close to the inner ankle. This can be effective in helping ease aches and pains.

Without balance in our bodies, there are many health-related problems we can encounter and having an Acupuncture treatment can help to restore your body systems to the right balance. They are quite often referred to as Yin (which is negative) and Yang (which is positive).

The Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapist’s explains how Acupuncture works. The acupuncture needle will stimulate the flow of QI [pronounced ‘chee’], which circulates in channels or meridians within the body. The QI circulates within the deeper organs of the body but connects to the superficial skin. In the state of a normal healthy body, a balance exists between these systems. Both the superficial energy and the deeper energy can be influenced by the stimulation of specific acupuncture points. If injury, disease, emotional trauma or infection occurs, the natural flow of QI within the meridians and organs may well be affected and the result is an altered flow, either a slowing or stagnation of QI causing pain and inflammation, or a deficit of QI, which may cause weakness, exhaustion and longer debilitating disease. The stimulation of relevant acupuncture points may free stagnation, reduce excess or indeed, increase QI to the specific area or organ and thus help to restore normal QI flow and balance.

There are several techniques in applying Acupuncture by Acupressure or Electro-Acupuncture which enhances the repair mechanism and enables an improved recovery time.

The conventional Acupuncture involves the use of single-use, pre-sterilised, disposable needles of varying widths, lengths and materials that pierce the skin at the Acupuncture points. The Physiotherapist will determine the locations of the Acupuncture points, based upon the assessment of the cause of the imbalance. A number of needles may be used at each treatment and these are typically left in position for some 20-30 minutes before being removed.

Trigger point Acupuncture may also be used to facilitate relaxation in specific muscles following trauma such as whiplash injury; for longer-term unresolving muscle pain such as repetitive strain injury (RSI) or as a means to obtain increased muscle length in order to aid stretch and rehabilitation such as sports injuries. Here the needle is placed into the affected muscle until it is felt to relax under the needle and then removed. Trigger point needling is often much quicker and therefore does not require the 20-30-minute treatment time.

Acupressure uses the Physiotherapist’s hands over Acupuncture or trigger points in order to relieve muscle tightness or to stimulate QI flow and balance the body. It is a healing art that uses the fingers of the Physiotherapist on the key Acupuncture points. The amount of pressure used varies according to the condition and requires trained sensitive hands. It is often used with sensitive patients, patients with a needle phobia, children or frail patients.

I do personally believe that Acupuncture and Acupressure can help heal and therefore relieve some pain but what I do not seem to have been able to achieve with this treatment is momentum.

Should it be used weekly, fortnightly, less or more? Is it something you could use to treat yourself? With alternative therapies being preferred by many sufferers for pain relief it’s a case of working out the correct balance of treatments that you need. And, if not available from your NHS finding someone local to give you a session.

I always think another great part of this Complementary Therapy is that your acupuncturist listens to your problems and can adapt the needles accordingly. It is something I am going to go back and have soon. You can find deals and vouchers online.