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Degenerative Disc Disease, Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia & PCOS.

I was originally diagnosed with PCOS in 1987.  In 1997 I was diagnosed with DDD @ the L4/L5 & L5/S1.  In 2004 I was found to have DDD @ the C4/C5 & C5/C6, along with Fibromyalgia.  December of 2004 I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer.  I had a hysterectomy in February 2005.  After a biopsy was done, it was found that I had Endometrial Cancer and Endometriosis.
 
I have been living with severe pain nearly every single day of my life since 1986.  This page is my story of living with daily Pain.

 

What PCOS Has Done To Me

by Bren Hadjian

May, 2004

I remember the first time I had a period. I thought I was dying. I was 12 or 13 years old and woke up to a nasty mess. Mother explained to me that it was a normal process a woman goes through every month. I was going to live.

By the time I turned 14 they stopped all together. All through high school I was period-free. I mentioned to my step-mother that my monthlies stopped. She said I needed to see a doctor and that a doctor would probably put me on birth control to regulate my monthlies. She never took me to a doctor.

At 15 I brought it up with my father, telling him what my stepmother had said the summer before and that I needed to see a doctor. Still nothing. I left that home as soon as I turned 18.

I was into weightlifting, working out regularly at Hilltop (a gym). I was proud of my 5'5", 135 pound self. I thought I looked great. No one loved me like I did. I was strong, healthy and happy. I had nice legs, too.

Early 1987, I started having low abdominal pains while at the gym. Sharp pains to the left or right. Then I started gaining weight. I freaked out. I did not want to get fat. I worked out more. I still gained weight. The pains were horrible. I quit eating. It never occurred to me that it would be related to the fact I never had periods any more. The pains got pretty severe and a friend of mine talked me into seeking medical attention, fast.

I went to a clinic in Kansas City. During the first 3 visits I saw 5 different doctors and got 4 different diagnosis's. I was prescribed birth control pills and 1600 MG of Ibuprophen 3 times a day for pain. The Ibuprophen decimated my stomach. I was given Percocets for the pain. I kept gaining weight. Depression was becoming a problem. A laporoscopy was done and it was confirmed. I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In 1987 & 1988 there was very little information about PCOS. I was told I would never get pregnant. My hormones are out of whack. I was told I needed to lose weight. I was losing the hair on top of my head but gaining it every where else. (Ninety percent of what I know now I learned from books, magazines and the internet.) I felt like a freak of nature. A beast.

I tried to lose the weight. The weight was extremely resistant. I gave up. I have tried every diet known to man. I tried diligently to get pregnant. I was an emotional wreck. After several years of taking BC pills, my periods stopped again. I went four years without one. One day out of the blue, I bled like a stuck hog. Forget the pads and tampons. I was using towels. It lasted only a couple of hours then quit. I didn't have another for several months. (As of this writing, it has been over three years since the last period.)

On my next annual exam, the doctor told me I was pregnant. You have got to be kidding me? He figured me to be two months along. I was elated. I went shopping. My husband at that time was not as thrilled as I was. This was a major hurdle for me. An ultrasound was done. I was happy. I was going to have that baby I was told I would never have. Shortly after my third month the doctor told me my body absorbed the baby. I called him a liar. I said it wasn't possible. How could my baby just disappear? I told myself I was never pregnant. I convinced myself I was never pregnant. I believed it for several years. I tried Clomid (a fertility drug). It did not work. I have begged many doctors, "If my stuff is not going to work, then get it out of me. I want a hysterectomy."  They kept telling me not until I have a baby, cancer or am older. This always enrages me. I cant have babies. I don't want cancer. I'd truly like to AVOID cancer! What does age matter? My stuff has not worked since I was 14 years old. Did PCOS take my age into consideration? No!

For years I stayed away from everyone who had or was having babies. I was insanely jealous of them. I am not as jealous now. Years has made me appreciate what I do have. My heart aches for the one I lost. I will be 37 here in a few days. Too old, I feel, to even try to have any baby. I have no sex drive left. I am no longer married. I dont want to date. PCOS has left me feeling like a short, fat, hairy he-she. A true freak of nature.

* If not treated properly, PCOS can lead to other, more serious conditions. If you suspect that you may have PCOS, consult with your OB/GYN.

 

December, 2004 - Uterine Cancer was discovered.
 
January, 2005 - After more Doctor Visits, it was learned that I have been having "monthlies".  Problem is I have been "discharging" into the pelvic region, instead of through vaginal discharge.  I have to have surgery, a total hysterectomy. 
 
February, 2005 - Surgery.  A biopsy was performed after the surgery and Endometrial Cancer was found.  It was discovered that I, also, had a "severe case of Endometriosis".

 
Degenerative Disc Disease.
by Bren Hadjian
May, 2004
 
As I stated earlier (Fibromyalgia article), I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) in 1997, after a work-related accident, at the L4/L5 & L5/S1 levels with disc bulging at L5/S1.  It was determined the accident did not "cause" the DDD, but had "exacerbated" it.  Workman's Comp released me in 1999. 
 
For years I have suffered severe, often dibilitating, pain, most of which I "assumed" was because of my DDD in the Lumbar region.  Several doctors said it wasn't, i.e. the Fibromyalgia diagnosis last week.  Two MRI's were done last week, Cervical and Lumbar.  I got the reports today (5/14-2004).  I now have, in addition to the above, DDD at the C4/C5 & C5/S1 with disc bulging at both, bulging at L4/L5 AND nerve root damage, right and left side of L4/L5/S1.
 
I asked the doctor what did this all mean, am I going to be paralyzed?  He responded that it would not be the bulging lower discs that paralyzes me.  He thinks I need more epideral shots, even though they did not work in 1997-8. 
 
I think I need another doctor.
 

My Experience on July 7th & 14th, 2004.

I am in the process of trying to get disability. I have already been deemed disabled by the state. (SSA takes longer.)

A little case history first.

In 1997-99 I had an accident that resulted in me being diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) @ L4/L5, L5/S1 with Disc Bulging @ L5/S1. From 2001 until now I have been having serious pain and swelling which has driven me to the emergency rooms and numerous doctor visits. One ER doctor told me I needed to get my back reevaluated (new MRI) which is why I was referred to the Headache & Pain Ctr in Leawood, KS. After the new MRI, I was diagnosed with additional DDD @ C4/C5, C5/C6 with Disc Bulging @ both and Nerve Root damage Left and Nerve Root damage Left and Right @ L5/S1. I, also, have PCOS, Diabetes (Insulin Resistance), Fibromyalgia and suffer from blinding migraines (for which the cause has not yet been found. I suspect the bulging discs. The kind of Migraines that make you wished you could die.) I have a 2 1/2" binder full of medical records showing all the treatments and physical therapy I have had and Doctors recommendations indicating that no physical therapy, no Epidural, no trigger point injections, would be beneficial at this point in time. I was at my maximum level of recovery (Dated 1999). (This was to end the Worker's Comp thing.) All I wanted was to go back to work. That's all I still want is to go back to work. Per conversation with a Social Security Staffer who noted that I had worked steadily from 1983 until 2000, three years after I was originally injured.

However, since 1999, it is safe to say that the amount of DDD has doubled. The amount of pain I have to live with on a daily basis has reached unbearable.

Now for the matter at hand ...

... on the 7th of July, 2004, I went in to see Dr B (this is like my 3rd or 4th visit) @ the Headache & Pain Ctr in Leawood, KS, per a referral from my GP, and told him what Dr D (GP) said on the 2nd of July, and that was that he never meant for me to see a neurologist. Dr B said then "if it was a pain specialist they meant for you to see then we can arrange that". After an EMG was performed, I was seen by a pain specialist who I swear is INCOMPETENT!

This INCOMPETENT (Dr MA G) is telling me I have limited choices. Epidural or trigger point injections. I said No. What about Spinal Fusion. He said I "didn't have enough nerve damage to warrant surgery". He was explaining to me that I had DDD because I smoked, was overweight and getting old. This really angered me because #1: I was originally diagnosed with it in 1997 at the age of 30 (and then it was said to be a "pre-exsisting condition"). #2: I wasn't always overweight. As a matter of fact I used to be really, really cute. Back when I could move and was really flexible. I was thin and cute and vain, but cute. #3: I am now only 37 years old. At 30 I was told by an Orthopedic Surgeon that I had the back of a man in his 70's and that it was a "pre-exsisting condition exacerbated by the accident at work". (This is DOCUMENTED, which I carry in my binder to my doctor visits.)

After several minutes of arguing with him. I caved. I agreed to the Epidural to prove to him they don't work, because I've had it before and I had brought him proof I've had it before but he said that was in the lumbar not the cervical, it could be different. Two nurses came in. One swabbed the back of my neck with an alcohol swab. The other then called the Dr back in. He gets on my back (which is riddled with pain), jabbs his thumb above the injection site hard and jabbs this freaking needle into my neck. This one not only did not work, but gave me a horrible headache and made me very sick. Pain surged through my upper back, shoulders and arms. After 30 minutes I was sent home. I had to drive from Kansas to Missouri through road construction and rush hour traffic on I-435 to I-35. By the time I got home I had a slight bruise and swelling at the injection site.

Once I got home I called and asked if I could take anything for the horrible headache and was told someone would call me back. No one did. I took Percocets and the rest of my meds. The next afternoon someone finally called back and I said don't bother I took matters into my own hands then hung up on them before I said something I would later regret. The following week I went in and he was going to give me another. I told him he was not going to touch me with another. I said there was no way you are coming near me with another. My neck was still swollen from the last one.

He looked at me stupid-like then turned to the computer and said "then we need to come up with a plan c d e & f." He said "looking at your EMG you have no nerve damage. That is good". He tripled the dosage of seizure meds and hands me what was supposed to be my EMG report and new script then leaves. What I had in my hand was another woman's MRI of her brain. Clearly labeled and marked. Two copies. I started raging.

I'm telling my Psychiatrist about this last week and I showed him what that DR gave me and he's looking at it and his eyes got huge. He said, "do you know how many laws this Dr has broken?" <
HIPPA >

I called the clinic up and asked the manager if I could have that woman's address and phone number and she said, "the doctors know what they give their patients and it is unlikely he would have given you ..." then I started reading it to her and she shut up for a long little bit. Then she asked me what are you going to do with it. I said ... All I've been trying to do is talk to Dr B since Friday. That's it. Now I am going to go online and I am going to find this woman and I am going to tell her what that DR gave me.

My problems are these:

This DR was looking at an MRI Brain scan of another woman (clearly labeled) and telling me that my EMG shows I do not have nerve damage there fore there is nothing seriously wrong with my back.

This is the same DR that got onto my back and jabbed an Epidural into my cervical spine without any painkillers or numbing agents, as per the
Step-by-Step Directions I found. I have had a horrible dread of needles, supposedly since infantcy (Mother's story). I make sure all doctors know this. To prove this point, the one time I had to have cavities filled the dentist did so without any shots of Novocain.

My Psychiatrist was telling me I should go back to that clinic and show this DR what he has done. I told him I will not go back because if I do I just might hit that DR.

Dr B, who I really liked and thought was a good Dr, has never returned any calls. (I really liked him because it seems he has been able to cut drastically the number of migraines I have.)

Should the other woman be made aware, as I have not been able to find her?

I have yet to see my EMG results.

Here it is July 28th and my neck is still hurting at the injection site. The pain is actually worse than when I originally went in.

I want to know what can be done about this! I think this is serious.

This picture from Adam clearly depicts ...
sciatica-adam.jpg
the "Garden Hose" I complain about in my butt and legs.

My Life with Fibromyalgia

by Bren Hadjian

May, 2004

Where do I start? My back? Legs? Arms? Maybe my neck? The pain is all over. From head to toe. I have a myriad of symptoms that I have suffered with for years. I have complained about the pain so much nearly everyone I ever knew has walked away from me. Family and friends alike. Now I have tacked on loneliness to the many symptoms of my Fibromyalgia. Most can not relate to the kind of pain I endure day in and day out. No one wants to hear about it.

The pain started in September of 1997. I had a little slip and fall accident at work. I did not think it was anything serious. Until the next day. I called my building supervisor and asked him for the following day off so I could give my back a break. He ordered me to the Workers Comp Group. To this day, I feel my nightmare began there. The nightmare called Fibromyalgia.

I went as ordered. I did not want to. I truly felt I would be fine with some time off and rest. The first round of Workers Comp Doctors gave me a lifting restriction, which lead to three weeks off work, prescriptions for pain and muscle relaxers and diagnosed me with a back sprain. Cool. That is all I thought it was to begin with.

Time passes and the pain is getting worse. I can barely get around. I tell these Workers Comp doctors this. Days later I get a phone call from a contracted Nurse/Case Manager (French). I liked him until I met him. He set up an appointment for me with some very popular Orthopedic Surgeon. I'll call him Dr. P. Every two to three weeks this doctor was giving me different medications. Antidepressants. Anti-inflammatories. Nothing for the pain. Finally, after several months of this torture, an x-ray was ordered. Dr. P. came back and said I had Degenerative Disc Disease. He put in his little report that it was not caused by the injury from work.  It was pre-exsisting.

Meanwhile, new medications every visit. I kept getting sicker and sicker. I started having black outs. By August of 1998, I was so depressed and the pain was so intense I could not take it any more. I tried to end it.   I swallowed every pill I had in the house. OTCs and Prescription. I swallowed them all. Then I started vomiting. The vomiting seemed to last forever. My gut hurt. My head throbbed. My jaw ached. Weak and crying, I sat on the floor. This is how my boyfriend, at that time, found me.

I had to go on a medical leave from my job. I could no longer do the functions of that position. I found a part time job I could do. It gave me the freedom to move around or sit. I discovered Xenadrine RFA. It was a dietary supplement, with Ephedra. I started taking it and after a couple weeks I felt as though it really helped with my pain. I could move around. I was happier. I was even losing weight.  Later, I was told that Ephedra was not helping.  I still don't believe it.

My Workers Comp Case was forging on. I had to retain an attorney. I felt as though my Nurse/Case Manager and Dr. P. were screwing me around. The lawyer arranged for new doctor appointments and, eventually, a new case Nurse/Case Manager. .

Five doctors later and an agreement on diagnosis. Dr. F. told me that I had the back of a man in his 70s. Bear in mind, I was a 31-year-old, Caucasian Female. Back surgery was not recommended at that time. Dr. F. explained to me that I had Degenerative Disc Disease at the L4/L5 & L5/S1with Disc Bulging at the L5/S1. He went on to say that no amount of Physical therapy, Steroidal Injections and pain killers was going to alleviate the pain. He said I had reached maximum improvement. "It is as good as it is going to get."

I changed jobs again. I eventually quit the job I was injured at. I could no longer perform the physical aspects of the job. Depression got worse. I started having panic attacks. Finally, I had to make changes. I moved to Oregon. I tried to procure employment there. It was fruitless. I worked a few part time, temporary jobs, finally landing a temporary job at the post office as a Data Entry Clerk. That position ended after 6 months and I was retained as a Mail Handler. I swore I could do that job. By the end of the first night as Mail Handler my legs and feet hurt worse than ever. By the end of the first week I wanted to die. I made it 4 weeks before I was forced to quit. The swelling of my hands, legs and feet would not go away. I had to have help getting out of my van once I got back to the house. Embarrassingly enough, I even had to have help with toiletries. Here I was broke and depressed, in Oregon. I tried to make the best of it. I wound up coming back to Missouri.

The pain got worse in 2002. This was the worst pain I had ever experienced in my life. Or so I thought. I was experiencing short term memory problems. I was not functioning with a full deck of cards. I couldnt sleep. The shooting or stabbing pains would wake me every hour or two. I started having chest pains. I really believed I was having a heart attack and dying. I was hospitalized for 2 days with the chest pains, while medical personnel performed routine tests. My white blood cell count was high. Other than that they could find no reason for the chest pains. They decided it had to be acid reflux. I said, "No way!" I walked out of the hospital, against doctor's orders. I felt I was not being taken seriously.   Recently, I learned that NonCardiac Chest Pain is common in Fibromyalgia.

My DFS Case Manager set me up for doctor appointments for a disability rating. First I was sent to an Orthopedic Doctor, who said my complaints did not coincide with diagnosis. He suggested I see a Psychiatrist. Then I was sent to a Psychiatrist (which I thought was lame, as I was already seeing one.) The Psychiatrist said my problem was physical. So I did not qualify for disability.

During the Summer of 2003, temperatures hit above 100 degrees. The higher the temperatures, the more I swelled up. I went to the hospital three times because of the swelling alone. First my feet were swollen so bad it hurt to walk on them. Another time my legs and feet swelled. The third time I went I was swollen from the waist down. I was so swollen could not wear pants or shorts. No causes were ever found. The swelling was attributed to my weight.

Still unemployed. No money.  Homeless.  Depression at an all time high. My kids are keeping me going. They do not understand the severity of what is going on with me. I started keeping a pain journal. I recommend anyone suffering with chronic pain do this. My first pain journal was a simple calendar that I carried in my purse. I noted the days the pain was the worst. Believe me when I say, this will come in handy. I made notations of where the pain was and sometimes I tried to describe it. Describing pain, for me, is hard. I dont know much how to describe pain other than, "It Hurts!"  I am learning though. When dealing with doctors, it is imperative that you know the right adjectives to use when describing pain.

The headaches turned into horrible migraines. Some of the migraines would last five to seven days. No OTCs worked. I finally went to the clinic. I was given Fioricet, Relafen and something else (I cant remember what it was). None of it worked. I called the clinic back and told them my head hurt so bad that I was having black outs again. I was instructed to go in. I said I couldnt drive. I was, then, instructed to go in when I could.

I typed up a letter to the doctor explaining my history with the pain. It took a few days, due to memory problems, but I got it done. It was lengthy. I explained every detail I could remember. Every medical test performed and results. My sister-in-law had gotten some information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS. I took my letter and the information to Dr. D. I explained to Dr. D. that I was in serious pain. I can't go on living like this. He was at a loss as to what to do. He arranged for me to start water physical therapy and prescribed me 60 MG Inderal LA (a blood pressure medication) to help with the headaches and migraines. I, also, got Stadol NS for the migraines. Stadol NS works great for me.  Because Stadol is so hard to get due to how addictive it supposedly is, I use it only if the migraines are at the utmost worse. I am proud to say, after two months on the Inderal, I have had one migraine and a few small headaches that didnt require any medications. Now if only I could find something that could help with the rest of the pain that runs rampant throughout my entire body.

A couple of days after that doctor visit, I was struck with a new pain. One I had never experienced before. It felt as if when I sat or laid down I had a garden hose tucked away in my left butt cheek and thigh. It hurt. Oh my goodness, did it ever hurt. After a couple days and nights of that and trying to call my doctor, with no success, I went to the Emergency Room. It was determined there that my sciatic nerve was being pinched and inflamed. I was told it was time to get my back re-evaluated for possible back surgery. I tried for three weeks to get a hold of my doctor, leaving several messages and getting no return calls. Even the pharmacy tried calling about refills and they, too, received no return calls. It was dismal. I had this garden hose thing going on for the entire three weeks of physical therapy. Along with a new pain.

During my second day of PT I had an asthma attack in the pool. The asthma attack led to a violent coughing spell that created, yet, another pain in my chest, right behind my right breast. It felt like muscle was being ripped inside me. It hurt to breath. It hurt to move. I could not lay down. I cried a lot. It hurt to raise my right arm just a few inches.

One woman told me to ask my doctor about Fibromyalgia. She said I acted a lot like her other Fibromyalgia patients. When I got home I got online and started my own research. I couldn't believe what I was reading. Never in my life did I expect to see something that accurately depicted what I have gone through over the last seven years. It brought tears to my eyes. I read about other peoples accounts of Fibromyalgia. The pain they, too, have suffered. One description I read was something I had said many times over the last seven years. I wake up in the mornings feeling like I have been run over by a Mack truck - twice. I burned up a lot of paper and ink printing Fibromyalgia information off.

I collected medical records from past doctors visits (which took three months to collect). At my next doctor visit with Dr. D. I produced all the information I had collected since the last visit. I gave him time to read my newest letter. When he was done I said, I have brought proof that I have been suffering severe, debilitating pain for the last seven years. Something has got to be done about it. I can't take it any more. He said he never doubted I was in pain. I told him of my Fibromyalgia research. I said to him, "This is the only thing I have found that accurately depicts what I have been going through these last seven years.'  He said to me that if I had to put a name on what was wrong with me it would probably be that. But he was not comfortable with it because Fibromyalgia can not be detected by blood or urine tests or x-rays. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed by ruling every other possible cause out. According to the medical records I brought with me to that visit, everything else had been ruled out. Dr. D. referred me to the Headache and Pain Center to have my back re-evaluated. The appointment was made for a couple days away.

I made it to the Headache and Pain Center. While there, I was attended to by a Dr. B. Dr. B. went over my medical history. I showed him my past reports from other doctors. He had me stand up. He grabbed my neck, "Ouch!"  He grabbed my elbows, knees, low back, "Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"  He said you have tenderness at the tender points. I showed him my pain journal with my pain charts. He said you have Fibromyalgia and that I should have been referred to a rheumatologist. Dr. B. arranged for the upper and lower MRI's to re-evaluate my back.

Now I know why I hurt. I know there is no cure. What matters the most is it is no longer just all in my head. It is something that I will have to learn to live with. I will have to learn to function with. I suffered for 7 years before anyone could or would tell me what was wrong with me. The pain of Fibromyalgia affects everyone differently. Some people can still go on with their normal lives. Others are left writhing in the worst of pain. Suffering and often praying to die.

I don't want to die. I want to live.  Preferrably pain-free.

"Doctor, I need the BEST pain killer!"

 
What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
 
Most women have never even heard of PCOS, yet it causes a wide variety of symptoms that often affect female reproductive health in ways that can be truly devastating. Although PCOS often affects the reproductive system, it's important to understand that it is an endocrine system disorder. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is often the cause significant long-term health consequences making a quick and accurate diagnosis, followed by proper treatment urgent.
 
An excellent site with information on the various symptoms of PCOS can be found at PCOS Message Board - Comprehensive PCOS Article.  Another site, The Center for Applied Reproductive Science has very useful information on symptoms and the diagnostics. 
 
A PCOS Must Read!  I learned something new here. 
 
  • Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows outside the uterus. This tissue can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the ligaments that support the uterus and other organs in your body, such as the bladder, bowel and vagina.
  • Like the lining of the uterus, areas of Endometriosis respond to the hormones of the menstrual cycle. The endometrial areas build up tissue each month, then break down and bleed during menstruation. However, when endometrial growths outside the uterus bleed, they can irritate the body.
  • Your body reacts to this process every month by surrounding this blood and tissue with scar tissue. Eventually, the swelling, stretching of tissues, inflammation and scarring can lead to symptoms even when you are not having your period. Endometriosis can lead to symptoms such as chronic pelvic pain, pain during sexual intercourse, painful menstrual discomfort and infertility.
  •  
    Links to other Information on PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) & Endometriosis:
     
    <Check back for Updates!>
     
     

    Other conditions that may be seen in Fibromyalgia suffers include:

    exercise intolerance
    cognitive or memory impairment
    decreased ability to concentrate
    problems performing multiple tasks at one time
    numbness and tingling sensations
    muscle twitching
    muscle weakness
    irritable bladder
    bloating, gas, belching, pain and distension
    the feeling of swollen extremities
    skin sensitivities
    dry eyes and mouth
    frequent changes in eye prescription
    impaired coordination
    Chronic runny nose

    If people with fibromyalgia are immobile for any extended period of time, such as when sleeping, sitting at work, or traveling, their muscles can get very rigid and painful. Fibromyalgia sufferers also report stiffness after prolonged periods of sitting or standing in one position or with changes in relative humidity. This can be quite severe and is in part related to neurotransmitter levels. Also, since neurotransmitters affect every part of the body your muscle symptoms can show up all over.

    Recurrent migraine or tension-type headaches are seen in about 50% of fibromyalgia patients and can pose as a major problem in coping for this patient group. These headaches may also be associated with tenderness in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. These types of headaches are often variable, and may change with body position or muscular activity. It may be so severe at times that you cant function or even think clearly. Some of the common muscles in the neck, upper back and head that can cause headaches in fibromyalgia sufferers include:

    Frontalis
    Occipitalis
    Temporalis
    Splenius capitus
    Multifidus
    Trapezius
    Sternocleidomastoid
    Levator Scapulae

    Aggravating Factors:  Changes in weather, cold or drafty environments, hormonal changes during premenstrual, pregnancy, and menopausal states, stress, depression, anxiety and over-exertion can all contribute to flare-ups. Typically, symptoms are worse during periods of cold damp weather, at the beginning and end of the day, and during periods of emotional stress.

    Pain Drugs

    Below is a list of medications commonly prescribed to treat FMS pain. According to pain specialist Steve Fanto, M.D., "The key is to be flexible with managing patients with FMS or any chronic pain syndrome. Doctors can't have one or two drugs in their bag of tricks because they will probably fail with their treatment of FMS patients."

    There are many myths surrounding the use of opioids, but studies have shown that they are safe when prescribed appropriately. They do not cause organ toxicities, such as liver or kidney damage (although the Tylenol or aspirin that may be included with some opioids may produce organ toxicities). Also keep in mind that there is no specific dose or type of opioid that is beneficial for everyone. You need to work with your doctor to find out what works best for you and here are some of your options:

    • Codeine (Tylenol #3 or #4)
    • Fentanyl Patch (Duragesic)
    • Hydrocodone (Lortabs, Norco or Vicodin)
    • Methadone (Dolphine)
    • Morphine Sulfate
    • MS-Contin (Morphine extended release formula)
    • Oxycodone (Roxicet or Percodan)
    • OxyContin (Oxycodone extended release formula)
    • Propoxyphene (Darvocet or Darvon-N100)
    • Tramadol (Ultram)

    Aside from the above opioid-containing drugs, some patients receive help for their regional pain problems using non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Celebrex. This medication is specially patented so that it does not cause stomach irritation.

    If you are concerned about pain during surgery, check out the July 2004 issue of Fibromyalgia Network. Click here for details.

     

    Links to other Fibromyalgia Info:

    <Coming Soon>

     

     
    Links to Degenerative Disc Disease Info:
     
    Cervical Epidural Injection
    Epidural Headache With A Late Onset

    Information for Patients and Friends - Medical Procedures - Epidurals
    (Problems I was NEVER advised of. These people KNEW I had a MAJOR headache when I left that building. They KNEW I had a MAJOR headache when I called them asking if I could take something for the headache and they never returned my call UNTIL THE FOLLOWING AFTERNOON. I wanted to die from the pain caused by this DR.)

    Epidural Steriod Injection FAQ
    Will the injection hurt? The procedure involves inserting a needle through skin and deeper tissues (like a "tetanus shot"). So, there is some discomfort involved. However, we numb the skin and deeper tissues with a local anesthetic using a very thin needle prior to inserting the Epidural needle. Also, the tissues in the midline have less nerve supply, so usually you feel strong pressure and not much pain. Most of the patients also receive intravenous sedation and analgesia, which makes the procedure easy to tolerate.

    Epidurals for pain relief after surgery - Side effects and complications
     
     
     

    Motion Preservation

    When it comes to spinal surgery, the current talk on the street is centered on motion preservation. The goal of motion preservation technology is to provide stabilization of the spine while allowing for some degree of movement. Although spinal fusion is a highly documented and proven form of treatment in many patients, there remains significant intrigue in preserving the natural motion of a given spinal motion segment, especially for those patients with mild or moderate disc conditions.

    Spinal Motion


    Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae and the connection between each form a joint, or "motion segment", with the vertebra above and the vertebra below. These individual motion segments do not provide the same range of motion as elbows and knees, but they work together to allow for forward and backward bending, side-to-side bending and rotation.

    Movement at a single motion segment is limited to only a few degrees (focal motion), but since motion segments are stacked on top of each other, considerable movement is possible (global motion). And, certain parts of the spine allow more movement than others. For instance, you may have noticed that the bones in your neck provide more motion than those in your lower back.

    It is important to understand that for most patients considering spinal fusion, their worries that they will lose the ability to bend are unfounded. Why? Because the majority of fusions only involve one or two levels of the spine, so most patients continue to move and bend, as they wish with little or no change in their global motion.

    Possible Future Technology


    Although spinal fusion continues to be the gold standard for treating degenerative spinal conditions, there are some new spinal technologies being investigated in laboratories and clinical trials. These motion technologies can be divided into three groups: dynamic stabilization, nucleus replacement and total disc replacement.

    Dynamic Stabilization


    Unlike total disc replacement and nucleus replacement, dynamic stabilization preserves the intervertebral disc and vertebral structure. With this type of treatment, a device is attached to the back of the spine to help stabilize the motion segment while leaving the intervertebral discs intact.

    Some dynamic stabilization devices can be implanted through a minimally invasive, posterior surgical approach. The safety and effectiveness of dynamic stabilization devices is currently being investigated, but these devices are not approved for use in the United States.

    Nucleus Replacement


    A disc nucleus replacement device is designed to replace only the inner portion of the disc (the nucleus). There are many implant designs and materials being studied including metal, ceramic, hydrogel, elastic coils and various injectable materials.

    In theory, a nucleus replacement could be easier to revise in the event that further surgery becomes necessary. And, the procedure has the potential to be less invasive than artificial disc replacement. The safety and effectiveness of disc nucleus replacement technologies is currently being investigated, but these devices are not approved for use in the United States.

    Total Disc Replacement


    Most surgeons consider the potential ideal candidate for total disc replacement to be single-level degenerative disc disease. Patients with conditions such as stenosis, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, spinal instability or osteoporosis are not considered candidates.

    Total disc replacement is designed to restore the normal disc height (the same purpose a cage serves in spinal fusion) by replacing the damaged intervertebral disc with a mobile implant. There are several types of artificial discs being studied including those fabricated from combinations of metal, polyethylene, polyurethane, and other biomaterials. In the lumbar spine the goal of these devices is to replace a relatively small amount of normal motion occurring at these joints.

    An artificial disc is implanted through an anterior surgical approach. In the case of a lumbar artificial disc, should the disc wear out, break, dislocate, or come loose, a revision surgery can be life threatening, so it is important to understand the potential complications.

    The safety and effectiveness of total disc replacement is currently being investigated, but these devices are not approved for use in the United States. Before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves total disc replacement, they may consider many factors such as the device design, amount of debris created by the implant during movement, possible complications, and ability to restore normal movement.

    What Are Doctors Saying?


    So are these motion preservation technologies going to be highly successful? The jury is still out, and only time will tell.

    At a recent meeting of the American Orthopaedic Association, surgeons were asked what treatment they would prefer for themselves if they had unrelenting low back pain from a single degenerative disc.1 Of the 133 surgeons surveyed, only 7 percent stated that they would choose disc replacement. So what would the surgeons choose? About 47 percent said they would choose spinal fusion and close to 47 percent would choose chronic pain management.

    Why wouldn't these surgeons elect to have disc replacement? Well, 59 percent felt unsure about the long-term durability of the implants, 30 percent expressed concern that discs will be over-used, and 9 percent worried about the surgical complications.

    New doesn't always mean better. It is important to remember that there are many types of spinal products and surgical techniques, but they aren't equally effective for everyone. Factors, such as your individual symptoms and diagnosis, play a significant role in which product is best for you.

    1 Boden SD, Balderston RA, Heller JG, Edward N. Hanley, Jr., and Zigler JE. An AOA Critical Issue, Disc Replacements: This Time Will We Really Cure Low-Back and Neck Pain? Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 2004; 86: 411-422.

    It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications, and benefits of spinal surgery with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your physician's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a certain treatment.

    As you read this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, bowel or bladder problems, are some of the potential adverse risks of spinal surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.

     
    Here is some information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
     
    Definition of PTSD:

    PTSD is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-IV-TR) (2000) at Section 309.81. This disorder is described as occurring when a person has been exposed to an extreme traumatic stressor in which both of the following were present:

    • The person directly experienced an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one's physical integrity; or the person witnessed an event or events that involved death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or the person learned about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate; and
    • The person's response to the event or events must involve intense fear, helplessness or horror (note: in children, the response must involve disorganized or agitated behavior).
     
    PTSD Support Services
     
     
     
    Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - Excellent Article.  This is the Best I found.
     
     
    Here is a superb article on Child Abuse and the History, thereof.  Many reports indicate that children of abuse can suffer with PTSD.

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