Although I do not have the ability to diagnose or advise from a medical stand point, I can offer tips about ways I have successfully reduced my pain. It is important to me to share my pain journey because I want to help people who may have a similar experience. I know how depressing it can be and the hopelessness that sets in when you feel like you will never feel normal again. There is an enormous amount of people who suffer from chronic pain due to illness’ or accidents, but there is also a huge amount of people suffering without an exact known cause. Of course, I am sure both types of pain sufferers will be able to find helpful advice here. I was only 24 when my severe, chronic pain set in and it did not appear due to any known condition. Now, three years later, I am about 90% pain free. I would like to take you through my journey from the very beginning.
“Gerty” short for Gertrude, was one of my nicknames at work. LOL I know. Well you have to laugh to keep from crying sometimes. Everyone I worked with knew I was going to chiropractic, going to doctors visits and taking meds. They heard me talking about it all the time, saw my grimacing face daily and occasionally some even saw me crying while I worked at my computer. So my employers were very understanding of my situation. Eventually they bought me a new chair because I was pretty sure that would make a difference. Maybe a little, but barely. Then they eventually bought automatic staplers for the entire office, because I was pretty sure all the stapling was the culprit of my deep scapula area pain. (We stapled A LOT of papers) It did actually help a lot. Didn’t take AWAY the pain but helped the pain from getting so intense so early in the day.
Meanwhile, one of my lovely bosses just so happened to be a massage therapist. She offered to try and help. Occasionally we were able to fit in a session either before work or during my lunch break.
So my first piece of advice and personal best pain reliever, is… Massage therapy.
I finally had hope that I would be able to return back to a normal functioning and pain free person.
She showed me some techniques to relieve pain in particular spots.
The first thing I was able to learn to do that actually relieved some neck and scapula pain is the following:
Tilt your head slightly down and to the side, in the direction looking between your nipple and armpit. Then with your hand (opposite the direction you are looking) placed at the back of your head, slightly put a downward/forward pressure on it while simultaneously resisting to being pushed. (don’t let your head be pushed down, use a backward force) Do this gently. Hold for about 30 seconds or whatever feels right for you. When you release, you should feel relief in your neck, maybe even hear some popping.
The next tip, I learned from another massage therapist.
First here is a picture so you can see where the pain I am trying to alleviate is. This general area- maybe a little lower too and my neck.
My massage therapist was so kind as to give me a tool to use. One of those “Pinky” bouncy balls. She advised to use it between the wall and my trigger point on my upper back. This really works. But I added another factor to making this technique easier. Put the ball in a long sock. You can hang it over your shoulder and adjust the position easily. Lean into the ball on your trigger points, roll around on it or hold it for a few seconds. You should feel some relief when you return to a normal position. It may hurt at times or in some spots more than others but sometimes it seems to be necessary.
Tennis balls work as well but the Pinky ball has a little more give. I am pretty sure I got one of these balls from the dollar store.
I’d love to hear if these techniques help anyone!
My Next post will feature more pain relieving tools that have worked for me.
And I will discuss more about massage therapy.
Luckily I had insurance. I went to the doctor several times, actually I saw 3 different doctors. I had several different x-rays done and many blood tests. Everything came back normal and the doctors were all on pretty much the same page. The only explanation would be fibromyalgia. I was furious that this is what they were accepting as a diagnosis because first of all fibro is a diagnosis of elimination and I did not feel that I had every test done, matter of fact I could not get all the testing approved by insurance so… Frowny face. Second of all I was only 24 years old!! wtf
The doctor prescribed me muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications.
First and foremost helpful aid in keeping me from wanting to just die. I don’t know what I would have done with out Baclofen and Meloxicam. These gave me enough relief to get through my nights sleep and days at work. (No I did not take them every single day) I personally am against taking meds if at all possible, but I needed them and just used them as needed. If you choose to use medication to aid in your relief, you will figure out what and how often you need them. (I will write a post later about my experience working in a pain clinic so we can talk more about medications later.)
Once I got my completely hopeless diagnosis (because doing the stretches they tell you to do, eating right and blah blah, I either already was doing on a regular basis or didn’t make a difference) I decided to go to a chiropractor. My parents are friends with a chiropractor and all their friends see him and spoke about how great he was. So I decided to give him a try. I was in such bad shape I was seeing him 3 times a week in the beginning. I would get a little bit of immediate relief but would go back out of alignment to where my pain was to begin with by the next day. Over time I figured out that my body was very reactive to the manual technique he was using and we switched to the activator technique. (hmm I think I will do a separate post about chiropractic one day, there is a lot to talk about!) Once we made that change my body was holding the adjustments better and I was usually able to get through the week with only 2 visits. This was in conjunction with specific stretches he showed me to do, icing, biofreezing and using a ultrasound machine at home.
Alas, my pain was still present and would reach unbearable moments throughout my days. Crying at work is really embarrassing. I hated that, but literally could not stop the tears from falling out of my eyes. I still needed to find a solution.
Now that we have got past the diagnosis and doctors portion of my journey, my next post will finally start to incorporate some helpful tools and tips!
Let me know if you ever have any questions! I am here to help as much as a possibly can.
I was 23 when I got my first office job. I had my own desk and worked from 9am-6pm. I had some minor pains that showed up just before starting at my new job. Wrist pain was first. My mom had carpel tunnel and I just assumed I was following in her footsteps. Occasionally I started waking up with a stiff neck. I wasn’t able to move it for 2 days sometimes. After going through those episodes about 3 or 4 times, I decided that it was from sleeping on my stomach and attempted to switch sleeping positions. UHH have you ever tried changing sleeping positions?! HARD. Almost impossible.
Okay, so a few months go by. I worked my way up to a better position at my company. I began working as an import/export specialist and I loved what I was doing (YAY). But my pain had been slowly building over the past months and my quality of life was deteriorating. When I got off work I would not want to do anything. I had pain in my lower back, glute area, upper back and neck. I also would randomly have radiating pain down my legs, ankle pain, and knee pain. It was hard to think about anything other than the pain. I couldn’t go out and do anything for fun. I couldn’t even do the chores I needed to do around the house.
Read my next post to find out how I attempted to cope and treat my pain.