Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Listen to Your Body, When You are In Pain Your Body is Telling You to Slow Down

Relaxing While Reading a BookYikes, it has been a while since I have written anything on this blog.  The weeks seem to be running together and I have been busy  lately.  Last Tuesday, June 11th, my daughter had surgery and I had to  go to the doctor on Wednesday to see my pain management doctor.  The week before my daughter's surgery, my upper back started hurting really bad, it has been a while since I have had my upper back flare up so bad that I couldn't get comfortable no matter what position I tried.


I am not sure what I did to cause my increased pain.  However, if I knew for sure what I did I would make sure that I wouldn't repeat the same mistake or task again without being more careful.  I found it very difficult to get comfortable or be able to even lay down to rest.  Laying down for a few hours during the day helps decrease my pain, in addition to the pain medicine that I take in the morning usually makes me drowsy.  I attempted to contact my doctor on Friday to see if he could call me in a script or squeeze me in that afternoon.  Of course, my doctor and his nurse happened to be out of the office and wouldn't return until Monday.  The pain was so intense I considered going to urgent care or to the ER.  Instead, I choose to just deal with the pain because I didn't want them to turn me away or do a bunch of tests for a diagnosis that I already have.

Finally, the doctor's office returned my call on Monday, June 10th and said that if I was hurting that bad that I would need to come into see the doctor.  When I spoke to the nurse, I thought that I was going to be okay and that my pain was improving; however, after sleeping in a hotel bed and sitting at the hospital all day on Tuesday I quickly changed my mind.  Every day I can feel back spasms in my upper back.  It feels as if the muscles are on fire.

On June 11th, while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital I decided that I probably should take care of my upper back issues.  After all I don't want it to get any worse than it it already is.  So while my daughter was in surgery, I called my doctors office and scheduled an appointment to see my pain management doctor the follow day.

He looked at me kinda funny and asked how everything was going because I was in his office sooner than normal routine schedule.  I told him that my upper back was hurting and that the pain was bad enough that it has been affecting my sleep.  I would toss and turn in bed all night long and my pain medicine wasn't taking the edge off of my pain.  Tossing and turning isn't exactly my idea of fun as I try and attempt to find a comfortable position to sleep in, plus it keeps my husband awake at night.  He suggested that we try cortisone injections in my shoulder blades and upper back to try and help control my flare up.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like I will be getting cortisone injections at all because they are subject to my deductible.

While I was in the office, I talked to my doctor about what my orthopedic doctor said about surgery.  I told him that my orthopedic doctor thought that I would be a good candidate for a spinal fusion.  I asked him if he felt that a spinal fusion would help with my pain.  He agreed with my orthopedic doctor.  Finally, two doctors on the same page.  :)  He also recommended suggested trying radio-frequency procedure which is a form of spinal decompression which is supposed to help relieve the pain.  The only down fall it is usually not covered by most insurance companies and only has about a 50 to 60 percent chance of working. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I left the doctors office with another prescription in hand and guess what this prescription also makes me sleepy.  Being sleepy during the day takes away from me having a productive lifestyle and the ability to provide for my family.  However, on the bright side my new prescription for a muscle relaxer has allowed me to get some restful sleep the last few days.  I hate taking so many pills to make my pain go away.

Lately, I have been feeling bummed out and depressed because I feel like I can't contribute to my family like I could a few years ago.  It is hard knowing that I can't help provide for my family the way I once was able too.

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Disclosure:  This post is for informational purposes only and should never replace getting appropriate medical care.

Friday, June 7, 2013

It is Important to Take Care of Yourself During a Flare Up

Relaxing in ChairThis week has been fairly challenging for me and my pain has increased dramatically in my upper back.  Even though, I don't always verbalize my additional pain.  I would hope that others notice my change in pain levels.  I know that I probably should verbalize it but I hate to feel as if I am constantly complaining about my pain.   I always think others around me can sense that I am in pain.  The last few days my upper back has decided to flare up.  A few years ago my vertebrae in my upper back showed that I had arthritis.

Disclosure:   This post is for informational purposes only.  The opinions reflected in this post are my own and may differ from your own.  This post shouldn't replace any medical treatment that you may need for your flare up. 

Arthritis is often something that most people think of older people having and not younger people like myself.  However, when you are injured your body tries to heal itself and if it is unable to fully heal your body tends to age and break down sooner than if you were uninjured.  When I get an arthritis flare up in my upper back, my muscles begin to spasm.  I also feel an intense burning sensation and major pain in my spine and muscles.  So far my normal course of typical treatments that I use during a flare up hasn't helped to ease the pain.  In fact, it has kept me up several nights in a row and it is even more difficult than usual to find a comfortable position to sleep in.  Even sleeping during the day has been challenging.  

Last night I tried putting the heating pad on my upper back, to see if it would help ease the pain.  However, it didn't seem to help or reduce my pain.  Generally, laying flat or sleeping also helps to ease my pain but even that doesn't seem to be working.  I have been waking up in the mornings with the same pain that I felt when I went to bed.  I am already taking pain medications on a daily basis and it doesn't even touch the pain.  If this pain lasts much longer, I am going to have to break down and go see my doctor sooner than my scheduled appointment.  

If you find that your normal methods of pain isn't relieving your flares, you should go see your doctor for an evaluation.  I am thinking some of this flare is caused by some additional stress that I have been dealing with this week.  When I tend to get stressed out, my muscles tense up and begin to spasm.  Once I have set off that chain reaction, it takes several days for things to settle down and in the past I have been prescribed heavy duty muscle relaxers to help ease the pain.  I have been resting as much as possible the last few days trying to relieve the symptoms of my flare up.  Hopefully, things will calm down over the weekend and I won't have to make an emergency trip to see my doctor.  

It has been a few years since I have had my upper back checked out because I usually my pain is more localized in my lower back.  My previous doctor said that my upper back is a direct result of me compensating for the problems in my lower back.  However, next time that I have to have an MRI done, I will ask my doctor to do a full spine assessment.  So that we can see what is really going on in my upper back and neck.

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What relieves your pain during an arthritis flare up?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Being Overweight Can Cause Your Chronic Pain Symptoms to Increase

WomanLast year I was laid off from work due to my chronic low back pain, I was disappointed that I could no longer do my job but something had to change.  I was tough and worked through my pain for a long time and early last year pain was starting to increase when I was doing certain tasks at work.  I decided I wasn't doing myself any favors by continuing to do the things that were causing me additional pain.  It has been a hard road since I was laid off from work and I have had to make a bunch of adjustments so that I follow my doctors restrictions at home.  This hasn't been easy, I have always been fairly active and loved doing many things that I can no longer do.  I had to take the time to grieve the things that I could no longer do.

Disclosure:  This post is for informational purposes only.  The opinions reflected in this post are my own and based upon my own experiences.

As I have switched from an active lifestyle to sedentary lifestyle, I have noticed that I am continually adding a pound here or there since I stopped working.  Doctors urge you to watch your weight and I realize that the more weight that I have to carry around and support, the harder my joints have to work.  The harder my joints have to work the more pain I tend to feel.  So in light of my weight gain, I am making a commitment to try and do what I can to keep additional pounds from creeping onto my waistline.

This commitment is going to be difficult since I am very limited to the type of exercise that I can do without causing any additional pain.  In the past, I have tried walking on the treadmill and riding a stationary recumbent bike.  However, using these exercise tools in the comfort of my home have caused me to have additional pain.  The bike tends to be a bit easier than the treadmill, since I can sit down while exercising but a few months ago I noticed that it was making my upper thighs and hips hurt more.  

So this leaves me with one option basically, I am going to have to watch what I eat.  Once, again I am going to attempt to use myfitnesspal, to track my calories and to help me be thoughtful of the type of food that I am putting into my mouth.  I love this mobile application because it not only tracks your calories but it can help you determine how many calories you need a day based upon your height, current weight, and how much weight you want to lose.  The app also allows you to connect with like minded people who are trying to lose weight and they even have support groups.  

I started this new journey on June 1st and I hope that I don't fall off the bandwagon like I did earlier this year.  I am currently seeking to drop a few pounds and attempt to eat healthier.  

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Would you like to join me on this journey?