Chest Pain and Myofascial Pain
Am I Having a Heart Attack?
Many people who deal with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) have experienced chest pain - sometimes so severe it sends them to the hospital thinking they're having a heart attack. After the ECG is run and everything comes back normal, confusion sets in. What, exactly just happened? If you have FMS, then it may be one of two things: costochondritis or myofascial pain. The difficult issue with both of these conditions is that the treatment is not conducive to relief from FMS and may even exacerbate FMS symptoms. It really can be a catch-22.
Fibromyalgia and Costochondritis
Fibromyalgia and costochondritis are commonly found together, even though they are really two separate conditions, each requiring its own treatment. However, treatment of costochondritis in an FMS sufferer is important because it can exacerbate the pain of fibromyalgia.
Costochondritis causes pain in the chest that can spread through the ribcage with a sharp and gnawing pain, especially where the ribs meet the breastbone. That is why many people who have an experience with costochondritis think they're having a heart attack. If you do have FMS and get chest pains, don't assume it is costochondritis - have it checked out properly to rule out any other issues. It could be heart-related and you may require immediate treatment.
What is Costochondritis and How Do I Treat It?
Costochondritis pain often concentrates on the left side and can become more aggravated with physical activities, like exercise. The pain can radiate out and down your arms. Breathing may become difficult and coughing can create a spasm in your chest because the cartilage must expand to allow for movement. Often, this pain does go away by itself but it can take a while. The suggested treatments for costochondritis include:
· NSAIDs, such as ibuprophen or naproxen
· Antidepressants for sleep disturbances
· Muscle relaxants to spasms
· Rest and avoiding strenuous activities
· Gentle exercise in moderation
· Heating pad
The cause of costochondritis is not clear but some possibilities include chest trauma that may have occurred in a vehicle accident; overuse injuries; upper respiratory infections. Some experts also believe that FMS can be a contributor to costochondritis and often makes the symptoms worse and more painful.
People with FMS have symptoms that are very similar to and consistent with costochondritis, although it is not clear whether is actually is costochondritis because inflammation is not consistent with FMS.
It is possible that the tender points just beneath the collar bone may play a part and myofascial pain syndrome is another possibility.