Monday, 12 March 2012

What kind of pain?

There are several kinds of fibromyalgia pain. They can all strike like lightning when it is least expected, and can be crippling. Preventing the everyday life events from happening and being enjoyed, endured or simply experienced.
Some are easier to cope with than others.
Let's have a look and see where I fit in.
There are three medically recognised types of pain so let's start there.
Much of this information comes via this article by the way. However, no one is the same, so some are just mine. (How lucky I am!)


"Hyper" means excess and "algesia" means pain.

In fibro any everyday pain you will experience is amplified. That niggling ache in you shoulders will feel like searing burning in fibro.  Just imagine how painful stubbing your toe can be when this pain is amplified up to ten times. 

Personally, I find I do very well in not swearing too much when things like this happen. We all know how clumsy one can be after a poor nights sleep. Add to that a tendency towards dyspraxia and being bust heavy and you can imagine how my world is a world of bumps and bruises. 

The majority of GP's prescribe SSRI's (prozac and other anti d's) to combat this type of pain. The idea being to reduce the sensitivity of the pain receptors. In my own experience this type of medication numbs everything. Okay, I found the pain was less intense. However, so were my emotions. I couldn't get really excited about anything. I put off today what could be done tomorrow constantly because I didn't have the sharp emotion to deal with things. It is only since leaving these behind I have come to realise how numb to the world I had become.

This is one of the types of pain I really struggle with. It is the kind of pain that makes you skin painful. It is a relatively rare pain in most people but common to certain conditions. Things like shingles (also connected to the Epstein Barr virus as fibromyalgia it thought to be in some circles) Migraine, and neuropathy. Personally, I suffer with migraine and it is then that Allodynia is at it's worst. Even a caring and sympathetic hug from a well meaning loved one can become a minefield. No one in their right mind would want to snub the caring arms of the one they love. Who would not worry about causing upset and make them feel they are not helping. However, when you feel like your skin is trying to remove itself from you frame by shrinking and burning then it is also difficult not to leap away at the touch and weight of a someone trying to hold you.
If you have trouble putting clothing on because you feel like the fabric is filled with prickly barbs how are you supposed to get dressed?
I am sure many of you have suffered bad sunburn at some point in your life? Well, that is how it feels.

I personally put this kind of pain in my “sensitive to everything” folder. When the world around you just hurts!

*Allodynia is believed to be a hypersensitive reaction that may result from the central sensitization associated with FMS. The pain signals originate with specialized nerves, called nociceptors, that sense information about things like temperature and painful stimuli right from the skin.
Allodynia comes in 3 forms:
  1. Tactile, which is pain from touch or gentle pressure
  2. Mechanical, which is from something moving across your skin
  3. Thermal, which is pain from heat or cold that's not severe enough to damage tissues
Some drugs that work for some people with allodynia include:
  • Tramadol
  • Lidocaine
  • Ketamine
  • Morphine
  • Venlafaxine

    *taken from the above article

As we all know I much prefer a more natural and complimentary approach to medicine. I would be more inclined towards herbal topical creams. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chilli plant.
It is actually an irritant. It works by reducing substance P in the body. This is the main chemical involved in transmitting pain impulses to the brain. However, due to it being an irritant it is important that it is not used too much. Indeed, it does come with a recommended dose. The very nature of the beast with capsaicin is that there is always the risk of it making this kind of pain worse instead of better.
Personally, I quite like Tiger Balm. It even smells nice. It contains all natural ingredients. Menthol, Camphor, mint oil, Cajaput oil, Clove bud oil and Cassia oil. All oils and plants that are reputed to have a soothing effect on sore muscles and raw nerves.

Painful Paresthesia

Paresthesias are odd nerve sensations that can feel like crawling, tingling, burning, itching or numbness. Sometimes, these sensations can be painful and aggravating.
There have been days when I have been able to sympathies with ancient slum dwelling people. Crawling with lice and fleas. I can be perfectly happy and then find I will spend hours at a time feeling like I have something crawling over me. It's horrible and trying not to scratch is almost impossible. However, succumbing to scratching will invariably cause me to feel sore and kick off the burning skin feelings. Gah!
Capacin cream can again help here. As can vitamin B12. I take a complex of B vits daily. It's got to be helping...right?

Personal pain 

For the rest of the article they talk about personal pain. One that it mentioned is titled Vodoo pain. It describes the sudden stabbing pain we fibro sufferers are all too familiar with. Personally I tend to get this in my ribs. A sudden feeling of being stabbed. It takes my breath away. I have also found that I will get a stabbing pain now and again around the middle of my monthly cycle. It will be just in one side over where my ovaries would be. In my head I have always linked it to ovulation. Perhaps I pop when a new egg is released :)

The next pain mentioned is “randomly roving pain”.
I assumed all fibro sufferers had this. It is typical when being asked what hurts I will say "my shoulders", for example. Half an hour later it could be my thighs. Pain rarely stays in one place unless it is related to a pain I would have without fibro. I constantly have back pain. At the moment it is so bad it is stopping me walking, keeping me awake at night and refusing to let me be comfortable. This is due to a back problem and it is exacerbated by fibro. This pain doesn't move.
However, I also have aching thighs today. Perhaps tomorrow or even later on it will be elsewhere. The excitement knows no bounds...

Then there are the pinprick pinches that happen. Sort of like a mini version of the vodoo stab. Just a sharp prick now and again. Usually in my arms and hands.

*Fibromyalgia Pain: Rattled Nerves

Most people won't understand why I call this a type of pain, but I'm sure most fibromites will get it. Certain things tend to get my whole body on edge, jumpy, and feeling rattled. It makes me ache all over, and sometimes I get nauseous, dizzy and anxious. Things that rattle my nerves generally involve sensory or emotional overload, such as:
  • Certain sounds (repetitive, loud, shrill, grating)
  • Visual chaos (crowds, flashing lights, busy patterns)
  • Stressful situations (busy traffic, confrontations, fibro-fog induced confusion or disorientation)
When my nerves are rattled, I try to get out of the situation as quickly as possible and relax, preferably somewhere quiet.
*cut from the above article

Reading this has been somewhat of a revelation to me.
This is where my “sensitive to everything” folder comes out. I always know when fibro is getting on top of me because the silliest things can irritate me and leave me exhausted and in agony. The saddest of these is hearing my children shriek and laugh while playing. It's not because I love them any less or want them to stop enjoying themselves. It's because the sheer erratic high pitched squeal of youngsters leave my nerves jangling. I would love to keep a quiet household. While they were younger I mostly did. However, as they get older they become more boisterous and louder. My dear sweet daughter leaks noise constantly and it drives me potty. But, I will never stop them. My fibro will not be their cross to bear.
I also can't stand loud music. I love music but too loud and I am so rattled I can't concentrate on what I am doing.
I hate cities. So loud and smelly. Such a nerve jangling array of life simply makes me want to curl up and die. It makes it hard to believe I grew up in such a large and vibrant city.
The smell of strong flowers, such as lilies (one of my favourites), the sound of birdsong in the morning, and so many other things I usually take such joy in can make fibro so much worse if I am having a flare.
So all in all there are far too many things I can be affected by to avoid them all. I don't want to live in a bubble.
I shall keep on keeping on. The power of positive thinking and support of my family will carry me through.
I will also keep my complaining to a minimum and take myself to a quiet, dark room when things get too much.
There is a huge upside to being very sensitive........But that is another story and one I'm not sure I'll share ;)


  1. I found that very interesting. I knew there were 'different types' of pain, but hadn't ever really read much about it (I focussed more on reading about the condition I have as a whole, rather than the different pain that it can cause - different in some ways from fibro, but similar in others). I should really try tiger balm!

  2. Obviously I don't have Fibromyalgia or rather I don't have a Fibro diagnosis however those symptoms are very familiar to me as someone with Hashimotos Thyroiditis - at the moment I have had painful hands all day, even my fingernails hurt, not really a good thing for someone who uses a keyboard for a living

    But yes you keep going through the pain even when it gets really bad because otherwise you give into it and that way lie madness