Referred Pain: Holiday Style
Here’s a fun fact (heavy sarcasm on the “fun” part): pain can develop in an area of the body completely unrelated to its origin. It’s called referred pain, and it can make diagnosing and treating a chronic pain syndrome incredibly difficult. You may have encountered referred pain at least once in your life, especially if you have fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, or chronic pain.
To provide a clinical example, people who suffer from migraine or tension headaches often experience neck and shoulder pain as well. In this case, the neck and shoulder pain would be classified as referred pain. Interestingly enough, environmental stressors and physical activities can cause referred pain too.
That’s right. Your crazy family may be causing or exacerbating your pain this holiday season! With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, you may want to get a better grip on what’s causing your referred pain. So, ask yourself this: is your pain condition causing discomfort, or is holiday stress responsible for your pain symptoms? Find out in The Pain Center of Arizona’s comprehensive guide to referred pain – holiday style!Is your crazy family causing or exacerbating your pain this holiday season! Click To Tweet
Fibromyalgia Fatigue vs. Holiday Fatigue
Yes, the holidays are fun time of year, but we have another word to describe Christmahanakwanzika: exhausting. The traveling, shopping, and being around loud family members all day can lead to major fatigue! However, fatigue is a common symptom of fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, fibromyalgia is notorious for the chronic pain, fatigue, insomnia, and brain fog it causes.
So, is your fibromyalgia wearing you down, or is it the holidays? Compare some of your symptoms to the following scenarios:
Holiday Party Craziness and Eating Unhealthy Foods
Holidays parties are a given this time of year, and although they can be a total blast, they can also put your brain in a fog. Most people experience confusion and reduced cognitive abilities during a crazy holiday party, especially when there’s alcohol involved, but forgetting names and not being able to formulate complete thoughts or sentences could mean your “fibro fog” is acting up!
To combat this phenomenon, try to get a restful night’s sleep before the party, or sneak in a quick nap. This type of brain fatigue is often caused by poor sleep, so make sure you sleep well, eat healthy snacks, and drink lots of water before the party to improve your thinking skills!
Speaking of healthy snacks, eating nutritious foods is an absolute must for curbing fibromyalgia fatigue. Sweets, salty carbs, and other junk foods can lead to sluggishness and fatigue, so it’s important to eat healthy foods to keep you energized throughout the night.
When It’s Fibromyalgia
Holiday fatigue may cause inexplicable tiredness, but it can also cause other symptoms such as lack of holiday cheer, perpetual dread of festive outings, and outbursts of inappropriate cynicism. If you generally enjoy the holidays but are just tired from all of the hustle and bustle, it may be your fibromyalgia causing holiday fatigue. Not to worry! Try some of the above-mentioned tips and you may enjoy this time of year just a tad more than usual.Is it Fibromyalgia or are you just tired of the holidays? Click To Tweet
Migraines vs. Headaches from Holiday Stress
During the big family gatherings, you may stop and ask yourself, “Are my in-laws giving me this splitting headache, or is it my chronic migraine?” This is a tough question to answer considering migraines and stress from your overbearing in-laws can both cause headaches. Still, your symptoms will help solve this puzzle and determine what kinds of headache you’re experiencing.
Headaches From Holiday Stress
Holiday stress headaches are non-migraine headaches that produce a dull, achy pain anywhere in the head. These symptoms can develop from the following stressors:
- During or after drinking copious amounts of alcohol (spiked eggnog, anyone?)
- After sleeping on Grandma’s 40-year old mattress for several nights (Ouch!)
- When placed in stressful situations such as:
- Being around loud family members
- Being forced to listen to a story you’ve heard 20 times
- Being subjected to awkward family photos (flash photography)
For this type of headache pain, symptoms typically improve after taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, removing yourself from the stressful family situation, and getting quality sleep.
When It’s Migraines
Migraines cause headache pain and a number of other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and the possibility of an “aura,” a neurological disturbance that impacts vision, balance, and hearing. Holiday stress or the following triggers may cause your migraine:
- Strong scents from perfume, cologne, candles, etc.
- Food items such as processed meats, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, etc.
- Changes in temperature, barometric pressure, or climate
- Altered routine that causes inadequate sleep
Because migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to days, it’s important you take your medication at the first sign of one. Resting in a dark, quiet room, avoiding certain triggers, and drinking flat soda may also help with migraine pain!
Chronic Pain vs. Pain from Sleeping on Uncomfortable Surfaces
Chronic pain often occurs frequently and for no particular reason, but sleeping on a relative’s couch, air mattress, or guest bed can also lead to body aches and pains. How do you determine whether or not your condition, uncomfortable sleeping situation, or both are causing your pain? Find out below!Is sleeping at your in-laws causing you chronic pain? Click To Tweet
Pain from Sleeping on Uncomfortable Surfaces
Acute lower back and neck pain is common after sleeping on an uncomfortable surface for several days. Fortunately, there’s a way to determine if the pain you’re experiencing is in fact acute back or neck pain. Most of the time, acute back pain will be felt suddenly and right after you first wake up in the morning. It may become a nagging pain throughout your day, but eventually, it’ll go away after a few stretches or self-massage. It should also go away as soon as you’re home and back in your own bed!
When It’s Chronic Pain
If the pain you’re experiencing was there prior to sleeping at your relative’s house, it’s probably a chronic pain syndrome. If it continues for three months or more in same area, it’s undoubtedly a chronic pain syndrome. Unfortunately, sleeping at your relative’s house may have made your pain worse. To prevent this fate, try talking to your loved ones about sleeping in a bed over an air mattress or couch. Talking to your doctor about breakthrough pain medication may also help control pain symptoms temporarily.
Pain can put a damper on anyone’s holiday spirit, but it doesn’t have to! The Pain Center of Arizona offers many interventional and alternative pain care solutions for all kinds of chronic pain syndromes. If you have a question or concern about your pain, don’t hesitate to reach out to our helpful team. From all of us at The Pain Center of Arizona, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!Pain doesn't have to put a damper on your holiday spirit! Click To Tweet
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