CHRONIC PAIN FROM ME/CFS OR OTHER AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE
I have wondered how or when I should write about the physical pain caused by ME and wasn’t sure how to approach it. But since I am stuck at home alone on a Friday night in agony I thought now is probably as good a time as any right?!
Luckily at this present time the pain is not causing me too much trouble in my hands, although a little in my arms. It is mostly concentrated in my legs leaving me free to type and not really able to do much else!
In my limited understanding of it, ME is defined by inflammation in the brain and the body which causes pain, among many other symptoms. The pain is… a right pain really! It stops me from getting out and about, seeing friends, doing anything with my life, even the basics of looking after myself. I would describe the pain I am experiencing today (it comes in all different forms) as being like really bad growing pains. It is a deep pain that feels like it is coming from inside the marrow of my bones, my thigh bone and my shins. I also have a more acute joint pain in my hips, knees and feet at the moment. I can move today but I am walking like an old granny, limping and leaning deep into each step as I manoeuvre slowly from one foot to the other… kinda like a heavily pregnant woman maybe? As I write this the pain is really throbbing in my right leg and foot in particular.
Some days it is more like a muscular pain and I also get a lot of knots and pulled muscles, just from my body being weak and a bit under-conditioned after being poorly for so long. I also find that emotional stress has a strong and direct impact on the pain I experience. At the moment I am having a really stressful time with work and I have no doubt that that will be causing these issues. I have had days spent in bed in agony after something trivial like a friend making a throw-away comment that I took offence to. As soon as a topic comes up in conversation that I find difficult, I get sharp shooting pains in my elbows that penetrate deep into the bones up my arms. Add onto this that my nervous system is basically malfunctioning and I find myself in a painful catch 22!
Up until I cut out wheat and sugar in March 2015, I was taking both paracetamol and ibuprofen back to back every day, often exceeding the recommended dose. I would wake up and reach for the paracetamol that was by my bed, if I hadn’t been woken by the pain in the night and already dosed up. I also kept ibuprofen gel on my bedside table to rub into my feet and legs. I would have to wait for these drugs to take effect before I could get up and even attempt to begin my day. After breakfast I would take some ibuprofen pills and once they had kicked in I would be ready to face the day, so long as I could keep myself dosed up (they often weren’t strong enough or wouldn’t last long enough).
When I cut out wheat and sugar, the effect was almost immediate. It was like overnight I had been cured of these awful crippling pains! I haven’t taken any over-the-counter drugs since that day. I just haven’t need them like I did, my pain became more manageable and I decided to replace the drugs with turmeric supplements. The pains became less continuous and instead came during times of stress or over exertion so I choose now instead to listen to my body and take it easy during painful flare ups. I find that the turmeric really does help and I would recommend trying it if you suffer from chronic pain too. My capsules have actually run out at the moment which may be why I am experiencing this flare… I must restock! I also use comfrey oil as a topical application for inflammation in my joints. I massage it into my feet which are in almost constant pain, especially in the morning and evenings, and also my hips and lower back which hurt a lot. For muscular pain like knots or pulled muscles I use Tiger Balm in the same way, just massage it into the effected area.
I have found that gentle yoga and simple stretches can really help with the pains, especially the joint pain in my hip sockets. All my joints crack these days so it can be a bit gross for anyone who may be in ear shot, I have been thrown a few dirty looks on public transport when using the opportunity of getting a seat to stretch my feet and ankles.
I get the most immediate relief from a nice hot bath. I use magnesium flakes for pain relief, and a splosh of Weleda’s arnica bath milk, light a few candles and play a guided meditation. Follow that with a bit of self massage and a few stretches and you should feel some relief, at least enough to get off to sleep ok. In bed I have taken to sleeping on my side with a cushion in between my legs and one under my top arm too, I discovered this trick about a year ago and it has really helped with my join pain. There are special cushions that give this kind of support but they look a bit ridiculous… still considering it though!
On that note… It is probably time I hit the sack! Tomorrow’s to-do list: buy magnesium flakes, buy turmeric capsules, have a relaxing bath, take it easy.
Do you suffer from chronic pain? Got any tips? Please share in the comments below.
Much love and wellness,
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