For the past 2 years, almost every month, I become immobilized due to sharp pains when inhaling and exhaling. This episode lasts for 3 days (exactly) and is concentrated on my left side of the body and back. Here is the outline of what happens chronologically:
On day 1, I wake up feeling something on my upper left back. The pain is not specific to any spot, but feels like a muscle knot. By the afternoon, the pain starts to get worse and begins to move downward. This pain mainly originates every time I inhale/exhale and forces me to take shallow breaths. By the evening, the pain is to the level that forces me to stay in one position for the remainder of the night. During the night, the pain is excruciating because with each breath, a sharp pain shoots throughout my left side, and around the left side of the rib cage. It is not until I start to control my breathing by taking shallow breaths, calm down and eventually pass out.
On day 2, I wake up with the same pain. I do not move around or switch position in bed since with every breath, the pain gets worse. During the evening hours, the pain begins to diminish and I begin take bigger breaths.
On day 3, the pain is at its last stages. I cannot do much physically, but can concentrate on something else other than my breathing patterns. By day 4, it is as if nothing has happened to me, and i am back to feeling 100%. Throughout these days, I most likely work from home or take a Paid Time Off because there is no way to do work with these symptoms.
The whole episode always lasts 3 to 3.5 days. I have been to a neurologist, neurosurgeon, pain specialist, rheumatologist and an acupuncture specialist with no definite answer as to what is causing this. Up until a few months ago, the only medication that seemed to take effect was Advil. One of the doctors prescribed me to take 4, 200mg of Advil every 6 hours. This was helpful in making my system relax and made falling asleep a little easier. One breakthrough that I have had was to take a prescribed steroid called "MethylPrednisolone" (4mg). This took away the pain in 6 hours and proved to the rheumatologist that it is an inflammation. Although this was good news, I cannot base my treatment to be reliant on this steroid since taking this will harm my body more in the future.
This has started 3 years ago and has been happening almost every month (with a little less frequent during the summer time). A few doctors have insisted that this is similar to migraines. Others have mentioned Costochondritis. When I was at the age of around 8, my parents tell me that I had the same type of symptoms but after migrating to USA, they went away for some time. Throughout this ordeal, I cannot breath normally, laugh, cough or do any action which involve breathing (which is about everything). Please let me know of any thoughts or questions. I would like to hear any advice from anybody.
I am sooo sorry for your condition. I wish I could answer your questions but I think you are on the right track with the NSAIDS and steroids showing that you have inflammation. Can you figure out any reason for this pain to have started? Have they done blood tests to look for the markers of some inflammatory diseases? You are right your attacks are much like a migraine that lasts for a few days. I assume they did Xrays or an MRI in the chest region? Is there anything you have pinpointed that you do that may trigger the attacks such as stress, activities , certain chemicals anything? Do you have a ledger or diary of your days before, during and after the attacks? I hope you can figure it out. I am sorry I am not more helpful yet.
For the past 3 years, both my wife and I have been trying to figure out the cause. When it happened during school time, we ruled stress as one of the factors, but every time it seems to be something else. Recently, Every time I start a workout routine (after weeks of rest), the symptoms seem to come back within a week from the starting date. We still don't know if this is a factor, but this situation has been a factor couple of times.
We have done blood tests and ruled out autoimmune disorders. The only outcome from the blood work was that there was an inflammation in the body.
I have had multiple MRIs in the chest area, with and without contrast, and they were all ruled insignificant by all of the doctors that I have visited.
Thank you for your response!
Ok, so what test did they do to determine inflammation? Was it C reactive protein or something else? C reactive protein is very not specific and will go up with any inflammation in the body. If it corresponds to your pain every time then that would be a clue. The sterioid you were given worked too so this goes together. Have you tried taking Ibupropin at a higher dose 3-4 times a day? I was given this regimen for my tendonitis. It helped a little. It also helps with my back pain quite a lot but takes about 2 weeks to work. So you would probably have to be on it for a while to see. I can't take it because of the stomach irriation. I took it for 6 months or more for the tendonitis. I know it isn't anywhere near as strong as a steroid shot but I was wondering if it might lower the pain a little? Do you actually pass out the first day of each episode? I am just asking or trying to help if I can even though you have been to specialists. The Rheumatologist seems to be on the right track. It seems like a muscle spasm or a recurrant infection like pleuracy that hurts like a stabbing knife when you breathe. I have had this and antibiotics are the treatment and a hot pack or hot water bottle. It is unlikely but if you are run down due to exams or working and studying I don't know. Have you tried heat on it? Have you had an EKG or have they tested your heart too? Sometimes pain radiates when you have it else where. I am not a doctor but I am a clinical lab scientist plus I have been sick for years as well with a migraine variant that took 10 years to diagnose (besides my currant back problem etc.). So, I am just asking questions to see if anything fits. I'm sure they did blood tests to check your kidneys and so forth such as creatinine and BUN (Blood urea nitrogen)?
I was new to this site back in June and forgot to comeback to it when you last wrote. I finally (after about 5 years of searching around) have a diagnosis for my symptoms. It is Familial Mediterranean Fever. This was confirmed with a gene test and is most common in Armenians and Jews (I'm Armenian). It is treatable but not curable (genetic) so i have been taking 2 pills a day for the past 2 months with no symptoms.
I know it has been half a year since i last came to this site, but felt the need to thank you for your post and let you know of this finding (which happened a few weeks ago).
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