Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a Pain!

Today is one of those days. A painful day. To understand it, you need a little anatomy lesson. The picture shows ribs (brown) and the cartilage aka, costostrenal joints (beige) that connects the ribs to the breastbone.
The condition I have is called Costochondritis.
It's harmless as far as doctors are concerned. It's an inflammation of the cartilage that connects bone to bone. 'Harmless', as in, "it won't kill you".
Seldom is there a cause, although, folks that have had their chests cracked open (heart patients) often will suffer with Costo for quite a while.
I went through a battery of tests to make sure something else wasn't wrong and the doctors finally diagnosed me by the process of elimination.

It is considered, by the medical community, to be a benign condition that causes a little discomfort. This 'discomfort' is one of the most common reasons folks visit the ER, thinking they are having a heart attack. It hurts like the dickens! It feels very much like a boxer hit me square in the chest.

The only things that will make it feel a bit better are, Advil, moist heat and rest. My family doctor said, "It will feel better if you quit living your life." We both laughed.
What she meant was, any movement or chore that causes you to use your pectoral muscles will aggravate the problem. Those muscles are connected to the ribs and cartilage. When they move, they pull on the already inflamed area.

This benign condition made me quit volunteering at my beloved, CSA farm. The work was too strenuous for that part of my body.
It also hurts to sneeze, blow my nose, breathe deeply, go up stairs, do laundry, vacuum, garden, and lay down. Anything that causes the ribcage to expand.
It also hurts today, just sitting at the computer.

The pain is supposed to come and go. It really is related to arthritis and I have flare-ups. I had a rough patch where it hurt every single day for about 3 months. When I went to get Lee, in Arizona, it calmed down. Maybe because I wasn't "living my life", I was sitting in a chair all day.

Today will be a "3 Advil at a time" day. I need to vacuum and it already hurts.

You know what gets me through? What makes me vacuum instead of sitting on the couch?
My friend, DD.
She has Reiters Syndrome. It's a close cousin of Rheumatoid arthritis. In other words, she's in pain every day. Does she sit on the couch when vacuuming or gardening needs to be done? No.
She gets on with her life. She lives with varying degrees of pain every day. She laughs and smiles and doesn't let it beat her down. She doesn't let it define who she is.
She has bad days when she takes it easy. She's had a few years to figure out when to push through the pain and when to listen to it.
I'm learning the same lesson, thanks to her guidance.
I've learned to live with my pain. I seldom mention it to family or friends. I just take a couple pills and move on. It really isn't something anyone can help me with. At my age, I'm not ready to start relying on other people to do the chores I have to do each day.

Today I vacuum. Advil, here I come.


  1. OH Ceecee, do I know where you're coming from. I occasionally have a flare-up of costal chondritis, but what is ALWAYS present is the chronic thoracic neuralgia, which the docs sometimes call a Regional Pain Syndrome. A couple of nerves coming off the right side of my spinal column are messed up and send out pain signals. This triggered fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. And it's not easy having to get stuff done every day when it hurts. It sounds like all things considered, you're handling it well! I do the same thing and don't usually say much to family or friends, because, as you say, there's really nothing they can do.

    But if you feel like moaning to someone at any time about the pain, my cyber-door is always open!

  2. Aww, I'm sorry you have to live with pain and discomfort like that. I can relate a little because of my hip dysplasia and Parvo B19. Like you, I mostly suffer in silence though somedays it takes everything I am to try and be cheerful. Pain makes me grouchy and impatient. I just want to hide in a cave and be left alone when it gets really bad.

    I'm upto 4 Advil days and not sure what to do next when they only take the edge off.

    Anyway, hang in there, and know you're not alone. Take good care of yourself and be kind to yourself.


  3. I am sorry all of you are having so much discomfort. I am another one. I have Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and myofascial pain. Just got over having the Shingles which triggered the worse spell of Fibro ever. We never know who might be suffering in silence. I try to be patient with myself and with others. Here's wishing you improved comfort this coming new year and all year.

  4. CC,
    God bless you! So often chronic pain saps the joy from life. Wishing you many (relatively) pain free and joy filled days!