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. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Road Mapping The Hazards Of Pain And Averting Crisis This Fall

As we descended the Rockies, marking the end of our annual respite, my husband and I were blasted by the summer heat. Yet, I am grateful for the opportunity to renew my spirit, comfort my body, and bring calm to my mind because of my shared experience with the ever changing temperament of nature.

As we travel across the flatlands, which are alive with corn fields and roads lined with bright yellow sunflowers, I am reminded of the purpose of a Midwest summer, its sun, color, and growth. Yet, I am also aware summer will soon surrender to the crisp chilly air of fall and the harvest moon.

Some of us living with chronic pain will see an uptick in our symptoms as a result of the changing season. So, as summer transitions into fall so does our need to adapt. 

Reflections on the Road from Celeste’s Photography©

To map out a course of action 
and follow it to an end requires courage.” 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Not every day presents a crisis of earth shattering magnitude. (See “Day Twenty-eight.”) However, those of us who experience chronic pain do have challenges to overcome on a regular basis making it important to be aware of system breakdown predictors. Factors apparent in a total system breakdown include a loss of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual safety net (the four-seated teeter-totter we discuss in this series of books). If we are aware that mounting daily stressors are precursors to a crisis, can we be better prepared should a crisis occur?

Symptoms that risks are mounting:

·        We become short tempered.
·        We don't feel rested for several days in a row.
·        We have more difficulty than usual concentrating.
·        We feel overwhelmed and without resources.
·        Our pain is not being managed adequately.
·        We struggle with tasks that we normally manage well.

What can we do when we find a consistent pattern that could be leading up to a coping failure? We can:

·        Delay chores or break them down into segments.
·        Approach each day individually and break it down by each hour if necessary.
·        Summon help from support system members or healthcare providers.
·        Give ourselves permission to rest.
·        Change what we can, and let the rest go.
·        Accept that some days doing the minimum allows us to charge our battery and prevent a total breakdown later.
·        Focus on our successes.

What can I add to the list of warning signs?

Excerpt, Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, e Fall f Day Three
Available on Amazon and all major outlets in paperback and Kindle.


Other articles you might find helpful:

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. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

How Aware Are We? Fibromyalgia And Aggravating Conditions

Courtesy Celeste’s Photography©

Many things can make our fibro symptoms worse.  So, we should ask ourselves, “What am I doing, or not doing, that adds to my misery?” “How can I identify and manage perpetuating or aggravating factors?”


This blog post, Fibromyalgia Awareness And Aggravating Conditions, originally appeared May 5, 2016 on ProHealth. With ProHealth’s permission, I am sharing it in its entirety here on The Pained Ink Slayer.


May is Fibromyalgia Awareness Month. And what a month it is! In many parts of the US, spring rains of April have brought an environment exploding with color and texture as saplings emerge, promising hope and feelings of rebirth.

All these things make May a wonderful month to raise awareness for fibromyalgia. We will see many campaigns across social media platforms, and we should all contribute in some way, if only to share it with someone else.  However, we should also remember, as the month begins to warm, other things need our attention.

As the season beacons us outdoors, our activity increases, as it should.  We will experience the reality of spring storms and, if we aren’t paying close attention, weather changes that can affect us. We may, and probably do, have overlapping or co-existing conditions that put us on red alert, but we must pay attention because while our emotional well-being often improves by getting outside, not all conditions bode well with sudden surges in physical activity.

Three reasons for us to remain aware:

1.     When our spirits are high, we tend to ignore warning signs of an impending problem.
2.     Managing all conditions, not just fibromyalgia, is necessary.
3.     Awareness of symptoms improves the likelihood that we get the right treatment for the right problem.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, having other rheumatic conditions increases the risk of developing fibromyalgia. Dr. Robert Bennett has suggested to me that fibromyalgia is usually accompanied by another painful disorder as outlined in the Alternative Criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia of which he is lead investigator.

While some of the following may not be directly related to FM, they should be considered as aggravating conditions if you have been diagnosed.

Aggravating and Possible Overlapping Conditions

·        AIDS/HIV infection
·        Allergy
·        Autonomic nervous system problems (neurally mediated hypotension, loss of heart rate variability)
·        Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or RSD
·        ME/CFS or Gulf War syndrome
·        Headaches, severe
·        Hypometabolism – adrenal insufficiency, insulin resistance, reactive hypoglycemia, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, thyroid resistance
·        Infection – candidiasis (yeast), viral, or bacterial
·        Inner ear dysfunction
·        Irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut syndrome
·        Mouth problems associated with fibromyalgia (dry mouth, teeth grinding, TMJ)
·        Multiple chemical sensitivity
·        Musculoskeletal problems – myofascial pain syndrome, piriformis syndrome or sciatica, plantar fasciitis, carpal or tarsal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis
·        Neurological disorders – costochondritis, degenerative spine and/or disc disease,
·        Multiple sclerosis, neuralgia (nerve pain), peripheral neuropathy, thoracic outlet syndrome, restless leg syndrome
·        Psychological distress – anxiety and/or depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
·        Urological problems – vulvodynia, impotence in men, chronic pelvic pain, irritable bladder, endometriosis
·        Raynaud’s phenomenon or disease
·        Rheumatic disorders – ankylosing spondylitis, bursitis,  hypermobility syndrome or EDS, polymyalgia rheumatic, post-polio syndrome, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjogren’s syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus
·        Sleep disorder

Other Aggravating Factors

·        Poor posture
·        Repetitive movement
·        Structural deformity, scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis (one foot shorter than the other)
·        Overdoing and paradoxically under-doing – a really big one to consider as we emerge from hibernation
·        Disorganization and poor time management skills
·        Brainfog
·        Cold intolerance
·        Poorly identifying problems with medication and therapy
·        Ignoring diet
·        Thinking your symptoms will wait

While we may not be able to change overlapping or co-existing conditions, we can manage them better. After all, it is human to have room for improvement –  everyone does. And, be sure to report any new or escalating symptoms to your physician, as the treatment for other conditions are not the same as those for fibromyalgia.

We can do things to minimize the effects of a flare, such as taking it easy, avoiding known stressors, eating healthy, practicing mindfulness, moving, and identifying any important factors to avoid in the future.

I’m not going to vacuum ’til Sears makes one you can ride on.
~ Roseanne Barr ~

If you benefited from this information or have questions, please leave them in the comments below. I love learning from you.

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, April 17, 2019

The Texture Of Pain Through Poetry

"Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow."
~A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

When Yellow Tundra Meets the Sky© Courtesy Celeste’s Photography

Those of us who live with chronic pain and illness understand respecting our limitations. But, there are many ways to be energetic, despite having a low physical battery. We can:

·        Be mindful.
·        Be compassionate.
·        Be grateful.
·        And, we can ALL write poetry!

Poetry has become a conduit to my most intimate inner feelings. I think that’s because I have learned to face the relevance of both anguish and joy, the reality that those of us living with chronic pain and illness know. Whether writing or reading poetry, I find there is a positive role for intervention, resolution, and learning to let go, which allows me to explore the diversion of creativity. So much is waiting to be explored.

When I prepare to write, I am energized by favorite words that tempt me with their sweet nectar. I have a favorite word list in my journal, which includes famous quotes that inspire me. I find the rich texture of expression that is born from the words I choose.

I try to share at least one of my poems in April to raise awareness for poetry. The following started as an “I Am” poem.

Dear Pain, Much to Your Chagrin© by Celeste Cooper

Don’t cloud my wits—attack, bother, or nag.
You know you have nothing positive to add.
You fractured the ability to create a red flag.

Dare not threaten my spirit or make me weak,
A tender, tired body deserves not your grief,
This survivor will not stop searching relief.

Mindful of judgments you pose in my ear,
My spirit remains positive in the absence of fear.
Affirmations are the armor that protects what is dear.

So, as constant and unyielding as you try to be,
I continue to bear arms to make you retreat.
Pain, you may have my body, but you don’t have me!


...Poetry has been described as the conduit to our soul. It provides us the emotional and spiritual energy to hurtle over life’s obstacles. It heightens our senses of sight, sound, touch, and smell, and it can be delicious. It offers a feel, a texture, to all we experience and work through in our mind, because it knows no time, no era, nor limits. We can express self and circumstances through the written word…

Pick up your favorite book, a thesaurus from the dollar store, a magazine, whatever, and make a list of some of your favorite words. ...Begin your journey of inner expression—start writing ...

[Excerpt, Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain, SPRING DEVOTIONS ]


All our books have tips for writing for self-exploration. Poetry is one of those.

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. 

Celeste's Website

Celeste's Website
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