I'm 25 yrs old and have probably been blacklisted from every gp's surgery in my area for being a raving hypochondriac. Since I was 20 I've been to see several doctors and physio's with different and seemingly unrelated problems and after keenly following there advice the eventual outcome of every effort I undertook seems to be a disappointing set of unremarkable results. I now believe (this wasn't always the case) that all my unfortunate problems are interconnected somehow but I do accept that am not a health professional and that often I am clutching at straws for an answer just to ease my uncertainty over these maladies. So I hope that with fresh eyes and given the relevant background information someone out there can decipher the mystery of what has been an immovable thorn in my side for the last five years.
To start off here is some important info about me. I have to my knowledge no allergies to speak of, good dental health, take no medication of any kind (multivitamins, cod liver oil, paracetamol etc) have up until the age of twenty been completely free from chronic pain. I eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water. rarely i.e once a month consume junk food ( fizzy drinks, sweets, crisps, takeaways, micro meals.) I have never broken a bone or suffered a serious injury, never had an sti and aside from mumps have been free from disease all my life.
When i was 19 I was assaulted pretty badly. I say badly but I guess after reading the previous paragraph you would be forgiven for thinking I've had no broken bones or serious injuries how bad can it be? Well yes this is true as evidence for the ensuing criminal court case proved there was no grievous damage done but the superficial injuries were bad enough that I couldn't sleep lying down and had to eat my meals through a straw for 2 weeks while suffering the mental trauma of being beat up for no apparent reason twice in one night.
In the six months following this the physical pains began. I understandably became very anxious and timid. during the day I hid away from the world a lot playing on my desktop pc rather than going out and socializing. I started to have panic attacks when there was a knock on the door or driving past the spot where it happened. As well as the panic attacks I got throbbing headaches and I used to noticeably tighten up my upper arms into to my ribs as if to support them. basically anything that brought back memories of what happened that night was triggering these pains. At night I noticed where previously I used to sleep on my left side now every time I tried to do this I would lie wide awake with a tingling in the rib area again on my left side and then approximately 15 mins later my whole body would start to go numb beginning with my feet and radiating up to my neck when this sensation reached my head I would start to feel as though I was falling through the floor and have to try and yank myself out of this horrible feeling and roll onto the opposite side. Eventually I just learnt to sleep on the opposite side but even 2 years after the incident I still had episodes as common as once a week where my body would go numb as described.
2 years on I had been for counseling which didn't help much. I believe this was because to me the trauma of that night had been accepted for what it was and I felt happy I had moved on. The problem with my mental health now in my opinion was that the physical pain I was felt after the incident had not abated and I was getting frustrated and upset because I was hungry to get back to 'normal'
This Is what happened since in chronological order of events...
Problem Doctor Diagnosis
Tingling and soreness of the left ribcage area Physically fine
Constant throbbing headache which got fluctuated in severity Stress
Painful left wrist (sharp) Scar tissue detected, overuse injury
Painful left elbow (sharp and throbbing) Physically fine
Numbness in left arm and side of face Physically fine
Pain behind the left eye socket (sharp, caused weeping) Physically fine
Pain is felt in lower left abdomen / groin and behind left knee
(throbbing and tender when touched) Pain disorder
The pain begins to move, abating completely in one area before starting Pain disorder
to appear in another area. The pain appears centered around the head,
neck, ribcage, elbow, knee and lower abdomen.
Pain gets progressively worse and I often have to sleep during the day Generalized Anxiety Disorder
as the pain increases in intensity the longer I am awake.
After approximately 2 years. One evening I had had enough of this hell and decided I was gonna exercise to try and break the apparent cycle of anxiety and stress that was causing me pain. That night I tried to sleep back on my left side as I previously used to. I had the exact sensation I had before where I went numb and felt like I was unable to control my limbs. I decided however that each night I would lie on hat side for a minute longer every night until I was able to do it. Eventually after about 6 months I was able to fall asleep on my left side again.
When I was 23 i became determined to rid myself of pain by becoming a health freak. I tried everything I could to be as healthy as can be, went to the gym, boxing and calisthenics and to sort out my mind I started to read lots, socialized more and faced my problems head on.
My resistance was noble and It was definitely a step in the right direction but the chronic pain was ever-present so after 4 years and minimal improvement.
I went back to counseling and my therapist tells me I am psychologically fine.
I went to back to see the physiotherapist and she cant find any obvious problems but suspects that I my have muscle imbalances or tightness.
I went to see the doctor and he tells me its is my obviously my character to be nervous and that after 4 years I have to learn to live with my condition.
Today I am still suffering from this chronic pain but over the last 2 years since I have been exercising regularly the symptoms have changed...
The Pain does not disappear and reappear anymore.
The Pain in the elbow and wrist has disappeared.
The pain in my head and behind the eye has got better.
The pain in my neck, behind the knee and lower abdomen has worsened.
A pain has developed in my left shoulder.
I now have convulsions about once every month where my head shakes violently if I'm stood up or sat during the day. If I have one at night my whole body convulses and with enough force to lift me clean into the air.
I get a really sudden stabbing pain in behind my knee every 3-4 days which i can feel coming on and travels all the way up my leg to my neck. when it happens I have to keep my leg straight until it goes but it is so worrying as it feels to me as tho it is a blood vessel that is about to burst.
Hi. Sorry that you are having this pain. It is a puzzle.
Have you had CT or MRI scans of your neck and back? Has any doctor told you that you have a pinched nerve or bulging disk?
Injury to soft tissue and muscles can cause pain for a long time. The assault could have caused a whip lash type injury in the neck that could explain some of your symptoms.
Has fibromyalgia or central pain syndrome been considered? Have you seen a rheumatologist and a neurologist yet? You mentioned seeing gp's. Specialists may help you sort this out.
Sorry to ask so many questions. I understand the action you took to push through the pain and exercise. For anyone with pain it is important to keep moving. What immediate effect does exercising have? More or less pain? The same?
One more question (sorry) Has any medication helped your pain?
I have had an MRI scan of my whole spine as the doctor did think at one stage that it could be possible nerve damage or spinal injury and the test results i got were classified as 'normal' and 'unremarkable.'
I have had 4 different doctors since I started having these pains and none have suggested central pain syndrome or fibromyalgia.
I have never been referred to a rheumatologist or a neurologist.
When i first started to exercise I did boxing once a week, jogging twice a week and calisthenics like press-ups and body weight squats. the pain would get progressively worse in relation to the area of the body I exercised until I had to stop. For example in the case of jogging my knees and ankles would hurt every time my foot hit the floor which caused me to tense up as a reaction to the pain. Eventually the pain got too much and I'd have to stop what I was doing and go home. In short the pain was present when I began to exercise and would progressively worsen. The only thing I found that halted or eased the pain was to sleep. This lasted about 2 - 3 years.
2 yrs ago as the chronic pain was still there I stopped exercising because I started to believe that maybe I had a physical injury which had not been detected and was compounding the problem by exercising. I really thought I've tried everything except not trying so I stopped. After I stopped I grew rather unfit but the pain I was feeling remained the same.
approximately 6 months ago I got fed up and went back to exercising. I started swimming twice a week, stretching everyday and soon took up playing football. This time I found that the pain got worse rapidly during the first ten minutes but peaked and if I continued the exercise after a while (25 mins) the pain would subside slightly.
Now I swim for 30 mins 3 times a week and play football twice a week for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. The exercise now acts like a temporary pain suppression as for a few hours after exercising I feel a lot more comfortable and in less pain. The following day after vigorous exercise I even notice the pain to be less intense. However after my 2 rest days each week the pain returns to normal levels.
I have tried medication such as ordinary painkillers once or twice when I have had to work through the pain or lose my job for example and It has helped but I am a great believer in not using these drugs to mask an existing problem. I want to get to the root of the problem and fix it so I don't need painkillers. I've tried a course of pregabalin for the pain and citalopram / fluoxetine for anxiety all of which had negligible use beyond the placebo effect I experience thinking this was gonna be the answer to all my prayers. I've also has some mean tranquilizers which I threw away after one dose as they made me violently sick and zombified.
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