Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chronic Pain Patients Have an Increased Risk of Dental Problems

During my pregnancy with my youngest son, I happened to notice that one of my molars was splitting down the middle. I didn't think much of it at the time when I was pregnant until after I delivered my son. I started getting unexplained headaches and I thought I was having problems with my blood pressure. Turns out that I was clenching my teeth and that it was causing my headaches. I went to the dentist to have my teeth looked at and he confirmed that the crack in my tooth was from clenching my teeth at night. He fixed my teeth temporarily and that I would eventually have to have some major dental work done on my teeth.

Potential Dental Problems


After a little bit of research, I discovered that it is common for chronic pain patients to have dental problems including cracked or broken teeth, TMJ, and even premature tooth decay. So if you have any of these issues, you need to see a dentist immediately to try to prevent problems before they start. They make an appliance that you can wear at night to help prevent you from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. 

I personally tried to the over the counter mouth guards and they didn't work very well for me. I found myself biting down on it and it would make my jaw hurt more or I would find it in the bed the next morning. The mouth guard from the dentist is supposed to stay in place better because they are made to fit your teeth better.

TMJ Symptoms


It isn't fully understood why chronic pain patients are at risk for TMJ. They think that it has something to do with the tightening of your muscles in your entire body. Some of the symptoms of TMJ include:
  • Jaw pain especially in the joint
  • Popping or clicking sound when you open your jaw
  • Ear pain
  • Ringing or popping ears
  • Headaches
  • Tight or sore muscles in the jaw or neck
  • Blurry vision
  • Should pain
  • Lock jaw
  • Dislocated jaw

Dental Cavities


If you are taking several prescriptions, it is possible that you have an increased risk of getting dental cavities easier especially if you are a mouth breather. The reason that you are at risk for getting cavities some of your medications dry out your mouth. The saliva in your mouth is designed to protect your teeth and help flush the bacteria and fungus from your mouth. When your mouth is dry, it allows the bacteria/fungus to multiply in your mouth you are at risk to get dental cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.

It is important that you see your dentist on a regular basis to monitor your teeth for potential damage and cavities. If you don't take care of your teeth, you are at risk for needing dental implants or dentures at an early age. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Have Been Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

It has been a long time since I have updated my blog and I wanted to share that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after a year long fight to get into a rhematologist. A little over a year ago, I started noticing significant changes in my body and knew that something wasn't right. I couldn't put my finger on it at first because I thought I was just having reactions to my medication changes. However, after starting new medications and giving them an opportunity to work, I will still struggling with all over joint pain. 

Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only.

The best way to describe my aches and pains would be similar to getting the flu. If you have ever had the flu, the fever and body aches are horrendous especially the older that you get. I took my regular medications and was using motrin in order to function for my two year old. It took me every ounce of my well being to take care of him and try to maintain my other blog. 

It took me several months to convince my pain management doctor that I had something else going on and after a year he finally agreed to send me to the rhematologist. He was running out of ideas on how to treat my back pain without costly treatments but he couldn't explain the all over joint pain that I was experiencing. It is a frustrating process but remember that you are your own medical advocate and sometimes you have to push your team to help you along the way.

I saw the rhematlogist at the very end of August and she started me on a Lyrica, a new medication, immediately to help with the all over joint pain. I am thankful that she was attentive to my needs and she actually listened to my concerns. After a lengthy amount of questions, she was pretty sure that I had Fibromyalgia but wanted to redo my blood work to rule out other medical issues that have similar symptoms. I went back 6 weeks later and she examined me again and said that I had the tender points associated with Fibromyalgia and confirmed that my blood work looked great. 

I am somewhat scared of this new official diagnosis but at the same time I am relieved that there is treatment for it. It is a life long illness and it will forever change my life. 

I will continue updating my blog, hopefully, more frequently than I have in the past.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Can Chronic Pain Cause Symptoms of Fibromaylgia?

Medication to Deal With Chornic Pain and Fibro SymtpomsIt has been a while since I have updated my blog and I thought that I would catch you up on what is going on with my health.  In late August, I asked my pain management doctor if there wasn't another alternative to Cymbalta because even with insurance it was very expensive.  At the time, we didn't know how much longer it would be until Lilly's patent ran out so that they could begin making a generic.  My doctor decided to slowly wean me off the Cymbalta slowly so that my body wouldn't go into shock from completely stopping the medication cold turkey.  After I stopped taking the Cymbalta completely, my pain tripled and I had a hard time functioning.  It took all of my energy to attempt to take care of my youngest son during the day and I felt horrible physically and emotionally.

After a week of feeling like I had the flu, I broke down and called my primary care doctor so that he could run some tests.  I addressed to my pain management doctor that I felt like I had some other medical issues going on because my pain was radiating to all of the joints in my body and my pain wasn't localized to my back any longer.  I had pain in my hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, back, ankles, and more.  My primary care dr ruled out any autoimmune diseases and did the typical physical tests for Fibromyalgia.  He wanted me to follow up with my pain management Dr.  So I contacted my pain management doctor for an appointment because something had to change immediately.  He looked at my blood work that I had done at my primary care doctor and said it looked normal too him.  

My pain management doctor asked me if I wanted to try another antidepressant to help control the pain.  I told him that I had to do something because my pain was off the charts and I felt horrible.  I was in a dark place emotionally because of my pain.  After giving the new medication a try, it took a few months to get the dosage to a therapeutic level.  Of course, even the medication doesn't take away all of my physical pain but it did stabilize my emotional health.  My emotional health so fragile before trying the new medication and it is doing its job to help me cope with my pain.  It doesn't work as well as Cymbalta but even then I was having breakthrough pain and felt it wasn't working that well, until I came off of it completely.  

If you suffer from chronic pain, you are more likely to develop secondary symptoms of Fibromyalgia.  According to About.com, secondary Fibromyalgia appears after or in conjunction with other chronic health problems such as:
  • physical injury
  • ankylsoing spondylitis (a form of arthritis in your spine)
  • surgery
  • lymes disease
  • hepatitis C
Secondary Fibromyalgia is a bit harder for doctors to treat because there are multiple medical conditions going on at once.  If you are suffering from chronic pain, you need to seek medical treatment so that your doctor can work with you closely to rule out what it triggering your pain symptoms.

At this time, I don't think my doctor has given me a formal diagnosis of Fibromyalgia mainly because it takes some time for doctors to determine other medical conditions that mimic the same symptoms.  There isn't any tests available on the market that makes diagnosing Fibromyalgia easy.  In fact, your doctor will likely do tests and blood work to rule out other medical conditions.  Most doctors will give you a formal diagnosis for Fibromyalgia if you have had wide spread pain for 3 months or longer and have 11 out of 18 tender points.  Don't be surprised if it takes the doctors a long time to give you a formal diagnosis.  

Even though I am on the typical treatment plan that they would use to treat Fibromyalgia, I still experience wide spread pain on a daily basis.  Some days are harder than others and there are days where I want to crawl in bed and stay there all day long.  It has been a long time since I have had a low pain day and my medications only reduce the pain a small amount.  On a typical day, I experience deep pain in my bones, muscles, and I am tender to the touch.  

I applied for disability in October of 2012 and I have been denied several times (I will blog about the process in more detail at a later time).  I am currently awaiting a hearing with the judge to determine if I am eligible to receive disability.  

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