Sunday, January 12, 2020

When Your Frozen Muscles Need Help: Myotherapies for Managing Myofascial Pain

When the myofascia isn’t free to move, other muscle movement is also impaired. This leads to joint dysfunction and chronic PAIN. This pain is universal with distinctive patterns that remain consistent in all people. In some cases, restrictions can be so extensive joints become frozen, meaning joint motion is severely restricted. The goal of all myofascial therapies is to restore normal muscle function. Following are helpful hands-on therapies that work to release restrictions and help our body achieve full normal range of motion.


Myofascial pain syndrome  (MPS) is a constant pain source when trigger points (TrPs) are left untreated.

Trigger point therapy done by a specially trained therapist releases the knotted muscle fiber (TrP) using a compression technique. The therapist will know to look for other TrPs, which are sometimes well away from the one that is causing you so much pain. They know there is a consistent pattern related to the specific location of a TrP in that taut band of muscle. Release TrPs returns muscle to normal function.  That said, the work isn’t all up to the therapist. A good therapist will help you learn the importance of knowing what things are perpetuating your pain. A big one for me is sitting here at this desk staring at my computer screen, or riding in a car for too long.

Chronic myofascial pain from MPS is often accompanied by other disorders, such as fibromyalgia, migraine, spinal degeneration, irritable bladder, arthritis, joint hypermobility, and more. Dr. Karl Hurst-Wicker explains “Fibromyalgia Centralization and Peripheral Myofascial Pain” in an interview I did for Health Central.

Created by Celeste Cooper, The Pained Ink Slayer(c)

Chronic myofascial pain can be the primary source of pain or it can perpetuate pain in other disorders, injuries, or anatomical deformities. The good news is that myofascial pain syndrome is treatable. The goal is to release the trigger point/s so that the muscle tissue returns to its normal functioning position.


As so many of us who write about myofascial pain explain, the myofascia is like chicken skin. It’s attached to the muscle, but still moves freely. If you have ever cut up a chicken, you can visualize what that is. Each muscle is covered by myofascia (muscle covering) that draws together on each end to form a tendon. Tendons attach muscle to bone so our joints can function. The goal of myofascial release is to free up myofascial restrictions so our body can function properly.

Developed by physical therapist John F. Barnes, myofascial release is a manual therapy performed by a skilled therapist with the goal of improving movement and promoting wellness.

My personal experience with MFR was enlightening to the physical therapy student following my therapist. During a session, my back starting twitching like a flickering light bulb, the student became tongue-tied. She stated she had not witnessed such a phenomenon. The physical therapist was glad her student was able to see firsthand what restricted myofascia can do and how it contributes to chronic pain.

It’s important to always check the credentials of anyone doing body work. They must have a firm understanding of anatomy of physiology. Here is a directory of myofascial release therapists recommended by John Barnes.


The goal of Neuromuscular Therapy and Reprogramming (NMR), founded by body-worker Jocelyn Olivier, is to balance the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system by engaging the motor center of the brain.  Therapists specifically trained in NMR treat soft-tissue restrictions, which relaxes muscles, rebuilds strength, improves flexibility, restores venous and lymph flow, and relieves the underlying cause of pain. The therapist will assess blood flow, myofascial TrPs, nerve compression, problems with gait, posture and body alignment, and perpetuating factors.

Other types of bodywork include spray and stretch, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy, strain counter-strain technique, and deep tissue bodywork, such as Rolfing and Active Release Technique (ART). I caution those with fibromyalgia on deep tissue work. It can be too painful for some. I am lucky to have a physical therapist that does ART. Some chiropractors also use this technique, but the most important thing is to have a working relationship with your therapist and keep the lines of communication open.  


Any myofascial therapy requires us to contribute for the best outcome. We can identify perpetuating factors and practice preventive strategies like stretching and strengthening to maintain muscle health, stamina, and general overall wellness. (Caution: strengthening should be done once the muscle is functioning properly again.) We can be persistent in finding the right therapy or the right therapist. Both are equally important. Maybe you find a therapy you want to try, insurance covers it and all seems well. However, I offer a word of prudence, the type of therapy doesn’t matter if you don’t have a knowledgeable therapist who is willing to work with you and teach you why certain things are important.

A guidebook that focuses on the work of doctors Travell and Simons will help you learn methods of self-treatment and a good therapist will suggest that you do just that. There is information to suggest that when home therapy is encouraged, we do better.


Always talk with your doctor for medical clearance. Sports medicine physicians and physical therapists are often a good resource for those of us living with chronic myofascial pain.

Additional Reading:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

6 Fibro Musings: A Look Back As We Look Forward

As the New Year begins, I give thanks for the wonderful work of advocates and fellow bloggers who have shared valuable information that helps me in my own journey.

Following are some of the top trending blogs here on The Pained Ink Slayer. I hope this look back will help you find something you can use in the upcoming year.

…what four things can we do to spiff up our attitude and claim our stake in the power of positivity?

 “What am I doing, or not doing, that adds to my misery?” “How can I identify and manage perpetuating or aggravating factors?”…

A myofascial trigger point (MTrP) is a “self-sustaining” hyper-irritable area of muscle fiber in a taut band of muscle that is felt as a nodule or bump… Note: Trigger points are not tender points, however, chronic myofascial pain can and often does co-occur with fibromyalgia.

There is sufficient evidence to correlate dysautonomia and fibromyalgia.
*5 Things You Should Know About Dysautonomia If You Have Fibromyalgia, originally appeared on ProHealth.

Research tells us symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon occur in fibromyalgia patients.

…heroes are people I admire for their tenacity and their ability to show gratitude despite facing significant obstacles…

Note: Archived blogs are in the right column of this page, links to access Celeste’s freelance articles are in the header tab Celeste’s Publications, and this particular blog will be in the header tab Fibro Musings.

Happy New Year!

Previous Fibro Musings

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Baby It IS Cold Outside: What You Should Know About Raynaud’s And Fibromyalgia

When Color Hurts

It is getting cold outside. Sure, it isn’t frigid everywhere, but it is seasonably colder this time of the year. Those of us with fibromyalgia who also experience Raynaud’s symptoms understand we are at a higher risk of an attack. What is the connection, are there other triggers, and is there anything we can do?

Research tells us symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon occur in fibromyalgia patients. However, there are differences in some observations between the primary Raynaud’s group (those without a co-occurring disorder that would explain the phenomenon) and the secondary Raynaud’s group (which in this case includes subjects with fibromyalgia).  I am not sure where those of us diagnosed with primary Raynaud’s decades before being diagnosed with fibromyalgia belong on this spectrum, but I am also not sure it matters. So, let’s look more at what it is and how we can manage the symptoms.


“When [Raynaud’s] occurs by itself, it is called Raynaud’s disease, or primary Raynaud’s phenomenon. When it occurs along with other diseases, such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, Sjogren’s syndrome, or mixed connective tissue disease, it is called secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon.”Cooper and Miller, 2010, pg. 106-107


A defining characteristic of Raynaud's is that it mostly affects the fingers, nose and toes, though it can affect other areas of the body like the ears and nipples. The symptoms of Raynaud’s most commonly occur when exposed to cold, though it can also be triggered by anxiety or stress.

During an attack skin color often changes from pale to blue, and turns red during re-warming, though fibromyalgia patients are more likely to exhibit only pallor.  If you have it, you know we also experience extreme numbness during the acute phase. This puts us at a greater risk for frost bite and reminds us why we should pay close attention. I carry gloves with me year round because so many places keep it cold, particularly grocery stores where we are also handling cold meat and frozen foods.

Picture is Courtesy of

It is suspected that the nerves to the blood vessels cause them to spasm. These vasospasms affect our microcirculation and deprive our small blood vessels (capillaries) of blood and oxygen, hence pale or blue color changes. As blood vessels relax during re-warming, redness of the skin occurs. This phase is frequently associated with extreme incapacitating pain, stinging and/or burning. If you have Raynaud’s, you know there is no mistaking the symptoms.

*Symptoms of Raynaud’s should not be confused with feeling cold, which is often associated with fibromyalgia.  Cold intolerance could be due to an upset in our neuro-endocrine system, and could be attributed to autonomic effects of fibromyalgia or hypothyroidism.

Your doctor may order a cold stimulation test, a nail fold capillaroscopy, or vascular ultrasound to make the diagnosis and determine if Raynaud’s is primary or secondary.

Treatment goals:

·        Re-warm slowly.
·        Protect fingers, toes and nose from cold exposure to prevent frostbite and skin ulcers.
·        Avoid emotional stress.
·        Avoid alcohol, particularly when you know you will be exposed to cold.
·        Don’t smoke.
·        Avoid use of tools that vibrate the hands.
·        Myofascial trigger point (MTrP) nerve entrapment can worsen symptoms of Raynaud’s, so check MTrPs associated with the referral patterns to the affected area. Check out this great article at Continuing Professional Education.
·        Vasodilator type medications may be indicated in severe cases.
·        There are certain medications to avoid if you have Raynaud’s, so be sure to consult with your physician or pharmacist.

Report any unusual symptoms or skin breakdown to your physician immediately.

Additional Reading:

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Disclosure

The Federal Trade Commission requires that I disclose relationships with companies for which I receive a commission as a reviewer, influencer, affiliate, advocate, or sponsor of an advertised product.

For you to know:

·        I only promote products after a full and honest review that results in easing my chronic pain and/or other symptoms.

·        These products are given to me for such review.

·        If you purchase products via a link I provide or use my unique discount code, I receive a small commission with no additional cost to you. There are certain conditions that must be met as part of my relationship with these companies. As an example, a product purchased via a third party site is not eligible for affiliate/advocate discounts, and more than one code may not be used at the same time. Such restrictions are at the discretion of the company involved and are generally customary.

·        The affiliate links or discount codes and comments I share via The Pained Ink Slayer, my Facebook profile and/or page Integrative Books, Articles and Advocacy for Chronic Pain and Illness, Twitter, Instagram, or Pintrest are for products I recommend based on my personal experiences. I cannot guarantee others will have the same results, though I certainly hope so or I would not promote them.

·        Affiliate posts will be identified as a “Paid Partnership with [brand],” “[brand] Partner,” “advertisement,” “ad,” “sponsored,” etc. and must be stated in all posts according to the FTC. Paid affiliations between a company and a sponsor/partner must be disclosed regardless if a particular post is connected to a commission.

I give my honest opinion for products I have found useful for me personally and I have a paid partnership with the companies of the products I advertise.

Monday, December 2, 2019

5 Essential Fibro Tips For Managing The Holiday Hustle And Bustle


5 Essential Fibro Tips For Managing The Holiday Hustle And Bustle originally appeared December 5, 2018 on ProHealth, here. It is with ProHealth’s permission that I am sharing it in its entirety here on The Pained Ink Slayer.

The holiday season is about to provide us a break in our usual routine, but for those of us living with fibromyalgia, that can upset our apple cart. The very nature of fibromyalgia is its unpredictability, which means we must pace with vigilance. How can we use critical thinking, planning, and problem solving to meet our goals this holiday?

1) Manage time effectively. The first step to maximizing our time and energy is to evaluate how we managed our time last year. Are there things we planned well that we should continue and other things we could have managed better? For instance, was time spent shopping for family, planning meals, caring for children or parents balanced? To avoid the unwanted consequences of stress, we can:
  • Estimate how long a project has taken in the past and include provisions for known roadblocks.
  • Take rest periods. Set a timer if necessary.
  • Maximize stress management techniques like T’ai Chi, meditation or other tools known to minimize the fibromyalgia stress response.
  • Employ manageable segments of time and be realistic based on previous experiences.
  • A realistic plan helps us avoid procrastination, overdoing and unnecessary anxiety.

2) Keep to a bedtime ritual. Dysfunctional or not, seven hours of sleep is still better than two hours. Avoid the temptation to finish something before going to bed—back to tip number one. Our body needs rest to boost our immune system, which is under assault during the holidays and the flu season. SLUMBER is a helpful acronym for sleep hygiene.
  • Schedule bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Limit physical activity during late evening to avoid surges in neuro-chemicals that interfere with sleep.
  • Use comfort measures such as sleeping in a dark, quiet room. Currently, there are reports that weighted blankets can help us. Hmmm, maybe this is something to go on our gift list.
  • Meditate or pray.
  • Breathe. Practicing focused breathing provides relaxation for our brain and body.
  • Eliminate food, alcohol, carbonated beverages and large amounts of water before going to bed. This is not only good sleep hygiene, it is particularly important since so many of us have irritable bowel syndrome or GERD. Holiday temptations are everywhere.
  • Remember nothing—clear your mind of tomorrow’s list by writing it down in your journal or putting it on your calendar. I have lost sleep over things that resolved on their own without any intervention by me. Now, I turn my phone off at 8 p.m. and my family and friends know it. It will wait for tomorrow. 

·     3) Monitor our surroundings. Many of us are known to lose perception of where our body is in the space around us, referred to as a loss of proprioception. I have plenty of bruises to prove it and I imagine you may too. This loss of “proprioception” heightens our need to monitor our surroundings as we decorate or attend a holiday celebrations. Christmas trees, Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, decorative statues, gifts, and spaces crowded with things and people can be a hazard for us.

4) Avoid known triggers. If there is something that turns our world upside down when we do it, we have options.
  • Don’t do it.
  • Solicit help.
  • Negotiate by trading tasks for what we can do.
  • Be aware of past roadblocks. For instance, if standing for prolonged periods while making holiday goodies or getting up and down on a ladder or foot stool to decorate causes lingering negative effects, consider plausible alternatives.
  • Back to tip one, plan for extra time to manage trigger avoidance. 
5) Practice good health measures through the holiday season. 
  • Stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget we need more water when drinking holiday spirits and carbonated beverages that frequent the holiday table.
  • Minimize the effects of cold exposure on muscles by doing warm up and stretching exercises.
  • Keep dry skin, eyes, and nasal membranes moisturized to minimize the effects of cold weather and cold viruses.
  • Eat foods you know you tolerate.
  • Dress for comfort.
  • Take pleasure in soothing activities, such as listening to holiday music or sitting by a fireplace while drinking a warm cup of herbal tea, cider, or hot chocolate. 
  • Appreciate the season of fellowship and all it has to offer us mentally and spiritually. Focusing on what we have lifts our spirits, promotes balance, and minimizes the effects fibromyalgia has on our immune system, our pain processing, fatigue, and cognitive problems.     

So this year as we confront the holiday hustle and bustle, gather with friends and family, practice rituals and traditions, and enjoy the feelings only the holidays can bring. Let’s do better, and let’s pace through the perils of fibro together.

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Nerve To Muscle Connection In Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain

Research continues to tell us that fibromyalgia involves the breakdown of normal messaging between the brain (central nervous system) and the peripheral nervous system. Pro-inflammatory cells called glial cells are still in the news, eight years after publishing Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and Myofascial Pain Syndrome. In 2018, researchers documented widespread inflammation in the brains of patients with fibromyalgia for the first time. (Accessed, 11/10/2019).  Add a highly sensitized peripheral nervous system such as seen in chronic myofascial pain and centralization of pain in the brain is off and running.

Dr. Karl Hurst-Wicker did a wonderful job explaining how our peripheral nervous system can contribute to the centralization of pain in the brain in an article I wrote for Health Central.

“According to Dr. Hurst-Wicker, chronic pain from myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a common cause of chronic pain. In fact, one study showed that it constituted 30% of the pain complaints in a primary care/internal medicine practice. Myofascial pain syndrome can be the primary pain generator, and at the same time, MPS may flare up or indicate some other pain generator in the same area. That’s why a big part of evaluating a patient with pain is getting a good history and physical exam to determine if they have only MPS, or if they have MPS and some other concurrent problem.
 Excerpt: Fibromyalgia Centralization and Peripheral Myofascial Pain: Interview with Karl Hurst-Wicker, MD, Health Central. Read on…

Chronic myofascial pain from myofascial trigger points, which are thought to be caused by an excessive release of the chemical neuro-transmitter, acetylcholine, is prevalent in fibromyalgia and helps explain some of the muscle pain and dysfunction we experience. Check out the heading here at The Pained Ink Slayer labeled “What is a trigger point?”

It is difficult to deny the brains ability to resurrect previous pain experiences or detach the emotional center from the physical response. Conditioning responses is important and why treatment takes a multidimensional approach. These various treatments, medication, stretching movement such as Yoga, gradual exercise after bringing myofascial trigger points under control, meditation, T’ai Chi for promoting balance input to the brain are all important for putting a tire tool in the spokes of this wheel spinning out of control between the brain and the periphery.

Additional Reading

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Heroes As Helpmates Dealing With Fibromyalgia Or Other Chronic Pain And Illness

I think we would all say living with a condition that causes us chronic unrelenting pain is a threat to our overall well being. It's because we travel an unpredictable road full of potholes. But despite this reality, I still try to find opportunity in adversity because I know it is important to maintain a balance that keeps me mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. I can't change my physical condition, but I can control how I react to it. Viewing my circumstances from the perspective of my heroes helps me with this.


"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. 
Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
-~Helen Keller


For me, heroes are people I admire for their tenacity and their ability to show gratitude despite facing significant obstacles. My heroes are people I admire for the way they confront adversity with success. 

Know your heroes

Identifying our hero or heroes is an important first step. 

I have many heroes. Several also face chronic illness. Another is my granddad, who always related to others in a positive way, without judgment and with a willing and giving spirit. He grew tomatoes, just so he could give them to his neighbors, and he kept cookies for all the neighborhood children who came to visit.  Some are my heroes because they make me feel loved or safe. Many heroes are advocates who use their voice for the greater good. Not all of my heroes are people I know personally.  I have had several through the years, actor Christopher Reeve is one.

Have you thought about who might make this prestigious list in your life?

Reasons we choose our heroes

There are many reasons we admire certain people.

·        They confront obstacles head on.
·        They are work to turn obstacles into opportunities.
·        They avoid a negative vortex.
·        They are empathetic.
·        They stay focused on resolution.
·        They are a positive role model.

When I think of how my hero would handle something, I feel their strength. 

How to think like a hero

We can’t say for certain how someone else would react to any given situation, but we can identify observed behaviors that we admire. We can:

·        Recognize acceptance is necessary to move forward.
·        Accentuate the positives that are a result of your illness, such as new friends, opportunities for helping others, becoming more spiritual, or any opportunity for personal growth.
·        Strive to react the way our role model would react. [This allows us to maintain a neutral, non-judgmental point of view.]
·        Be supportive to others.

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a medical doctor, psychiatrist, and author who was world-renowned for her pioneering work on death, dying, and the grieving process. Through her work she learned that life is like the changing of the seasons from spring to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter. 

Abridged excerpt from Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-body Connection, The Power of Body, Mind, and Spirit (Chapter Five).


Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has influenced the world. The impact of her work affected me through my nursing career and has had a great influence on my writing. Learning to live with chronic pain is a process we work through to acceptance, much like the grieving process. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's work on the changing seasons of life was instrumental in the development and writing of our (co-author Jeff Miller, PhD) Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain series, Winter Devotions, Spring Devotions, Summer Devotions, and Fall Devotions.


Obstacles are necessary turning points. If we cultivate them into opportunity, we know triumph. For those of us living with chronic pain, success is measured by how far we come in our reaction to it, for that is the only thing we can control. Heroes are my helpmates for dealing with fibromyalgia, migraine, autoimmune chronic illness and rheumatic disease.

Additional Reading:

·        The Gift of Connection, Communication for Managing Pain (Pts as teacher)

In healing,

Celeste Cooper, RN / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Learn more about Celeste’s books here. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others. 

Celeste's Website

Celeste's Website
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