Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Pain in the Neck!!!

Take a look around. How many people do you see rubbing their necks? Most everyone we meet has pain or tension in their neck. Fibromyalgia pain is different for everyone, but I am willing to bet we all have neck pain, strain or tension. I experience severe neck and arm pain. The arm pain stems from my neck and goes all the way to my hands. On a bad day my biceps and forearms scream out in agony. Just lifting a phone to my ear or typing causes a rippling pain. On my worst days, the only relief I find is laying on my back with my neck supported, arms rested flat at my side, hands opened (not in a fist) with my palms facing the ceiling. Needless to say, not much is accomplished on these days.

Fighting extreme days will only make the pain worse. Instead I began a quest to find ways to keep my neck and arm pain from escalating. What I am about to share is not a CURE, but a way to find some relief on your better days. I hope as I keep following these tips, my good days will be better.

What are these tips? They are so simple, that at first I laughed at them. Then I began to try them, and yes, they helped!! Without spending extra money or falling for gimmicks, I was able to find some relief from changing a few physical habits.

1. Driving.
OK, we were all taught to drive with our hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. I will not argue that this may be the safest placement to be in control of your vehicle, but it is a true pain in the neck! I had never been a 10 and 2 kinda gal, that is until it was time to be a role model to my son who was learning to drive. Four years later, I am still driving with my hands in that position. In my research, I read that if I placed my hands at 8 and 4, I would feel how much strain 10 and 2 were putting on my neck and arms. So as I was driving the other day, with my hands at 10 and 2, I caught myself rubbing my neck at a stop light. I thought back to what I had read. So I tried it. WOW!!! Just by placing my hands at 8 and 4, my neck AND arm pain decreased immediately!!! The only problem was, because of how this particular steering wheel was designed, my hands were not comfortable and I didn't feel I had enough control over the vehicle. So I began to experiment some more. With this steering wheel's design, I found that 9 and 3 gave me the control I needed and the same relief of pain. The next time you catch yourself rubbing your neck at a stop light, change the placement of your hands! Also, lower or raise your steering wheel to help you find your best number! Experiment as I did and see what gives you control and pain relief. One more tip for driving, use your arm rests if you have them!!

2. Talking on the phone.
We do it all day. Cell phones have made it possible to talk 24/7! It's no longer just at work, or a few phone calls from home. Stop and think about how much of your day is spent with your arm raised and bent or your neck cocked to the side to hold the phone without your arms. Not talking, is not an option for me, and I needed to find ways to do it on my extreme days. Later I began to apply them to my normal usage. Once again, I was able to do an ordinary task that didn't increase my pain. When possible, use the speakerphone. Just not in public please!!!! By doing this, I can lay my phone down and not use anything but my mouth. :-o Other solutions are using a Bluetooth or other hands free devices. There are many affordable options. With any of these options, your arms, hands and neck remain relaxed. That is unless you talk with your hands even when no one can see you! LOL!

3. Typing.
On an extreme day, even by following these tips, typing is too painful. But they have made bad days bearable and good days better. Whether using a laptop or desk top computer, by keeping my upper arms at my side, elbows by my waist and forearms supported by a chair's arm rests or by pillows on my couch or bed, and my wrists flat, I am able to spend more time typing than before without added pain. I also keep my neck supported with the back of a chair or pillow. Only the movement of my fingers play into any strain.

4. Relaxing on a lounge chair, sofa etc..
This is something I discovered one night, while lounging on my patio. My whole body was hurting, and as I was trying to find comfort by laying in a reclined position my arms were still throbbing with pain. I examined the placement of each body part. To my surprise, what I thought should have been comforting for my arms, ended up being the source of stress. ARM RESTS!!! The moment I removed my arms from the arm rests and laid them at my side, my arm pain level dropped, and I had instant relief!!! After waiting awhile, I placed them back on the rests and immediately the pain returned to its original state of throbbing. When you are not having to use your arms, keep them at your side and relaxed, hands open flat or with a slight curve of your fingers and wrists facing up or down (which ever you find most comfortable at the moment).

I am learning that how we sit, stand, walk and yes, even lay down can play a large role in the level of our pain. I also see that we are creatures of habit and it is not easy to break or change them. My hands keep creeping up to 10 and 2, but I am catching myself and making the times I do drive a bit more pleasurable.

Notice that I have stated that all of these tips "did not increase my pain", not cured! Do not let anyone fool you into believing there is a cure for Fibromyalgia. These tips only allowed me to do a few tasks without increasing the pain, they did not change the severity of my Fibro. And that is my goal, to find ways to add some normalcy to my very abnormal life.
Give them a try! Tell me what helped you.

Send me your ideas, I am open and willing to try as many natural and free ways to help ease my pain or to just keep it from escalating. While my family and I are praising God my husband found a new job quickly, I am also asking God for a miracle. I will be without health insurance until the first of November. This means I will be without Lyrica. Even with our new insurance it will still have a ridiculous price tag. I would rather experiment and find something affordable and share my results with you. Bad part is, Lyrica does help, A LOT! On bad days I complain that Lyrica does not help enough, yet it is when I am without it, I realize just how much it does. Not just for my Fibro, but also with my nerve pain. As I am weening myself off of Lyrica with the last of this months prescription, I can already feel the difference the full dosage made. Better to ween off of it than to go from a full dose to nothing all at once. I am praying for a miracle, that Pfizer. the makers of Lyrica, lower their prices, or that I find a different, affordable and effective solution.
What works best for you? Reply in a post to share with all or email me privately.

May your day be as painless as possible!

-Mrs. C.

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