Identifying the source of my pain helps me resolve compensations
Finding the root cause of my pain flares is key to getting them under control
Sometimes I’m baffled by my body’s connections and the way it compensates for issues related to my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Recently, I’ve been experiencing a sharp pain in the muscles along the front and sides of the bottom of my rib cage. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done to cause that kind of discomfort, and no amount of heat, gentle stretching, or rubbing seemed to make any difference.
After several weeks, I started to feel what I can only describe as an echo in the front of my hip whenever I felt the pain in my ribs. Could they be connected? It didn’t seem logical, as there’s no direct link that I’m aware of, but I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I started focusing my efforts on my hip.
It turned out that my hip was tight and pulling on my back, which was in turn pulling on my rib cage and back down to my hip, creating a tight, angry triangle. It had taken me weeks to figure it out because the pain in my ribs was “shouting” the loudest, so I didn’t “hear” the others until I started searching for them. Then I could feel them.
The pieces fall into place
Once I realized my hip was the silent cause of this unusual pain, another piece of the puzzle fell into place. I’ve been having a resurgence of plantar fasciitis pain in my right foot and heel, and again, I couldn’t think of any reason why it’d become aggravated. With my hip identified as the culprit, I realized what was happening. When my hip is tight, I don’t walk correctly. If it’s significant, I’ll notice, but if there’s only slight tightness, I might not. But my body sure does!
That small change in my gait, subtle enough that I didn’t even recognize it, was causing uneven motion down my leg. In turn, that motion was making some muscles work harder than they’re intended to, and that caused the pain flare in my foot. Sheesh!
Now that I understand what’s happening, I’ve been able to work on the areas causing my compensatory pain. When I’m only treating symptoms and not getting to the root of the problem, I can only make so much progress. But now that I know what to work on, I can focus my efforts more effectively. Otherwise, it can feel like playing whack-a-mole.
So often I don’t understand the connections between my muscles, or what sets an area off. The cascade can happen so quickly and subtly that I don’t always realize how everything is intertwined, but over the years I’ve learned that if I’m having pain flares in multiple places, there’s almost always something tying them together. It can take many tries to identify what’s the root cause and what’s the compensation, but in doing so, I’m able to start getting my pain under control.
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