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Long post incoming (sorry in advance but any help would be a lifesaver!)
So, little intro, I have been in constant severe pain for 7-8 years, nobody has been able to diagnose me with anything in particular and it's getting steadily worse. I was hoping that some of you lovely people on here would have some suggestions of what to investigate next!
About me: I am a 27 year old female, never smoked, not overweight, don't drink, vegetarian, gluten-free (on the advise of my doc, just to try it out - it's done nothing for me!)
My illness: When I was 19, at uni, I came down with a virus (tonsillitis/Glandular fever possibly) and didn't go to the doctor (because, being a uni student, I had been a wee bit lazy and not registered with the nearest gp!) I was in bed for around 2 weeks.
Went back into uni when I was feeling better, had even been to the gym the night before, and when I was in a lecture that day, I went to pull my chair forward to let someone past behind me and I had a sudden stabbing almost tearing pain around my 5th rib, slightly to the left of my sternum. It was excruciating. My first thought was it was heartburn because I'd had that before, but it was like that x25 and whilst my little heartburn pains were usually over and done in a few seconds, this was constant. I went home and was again in bed for 2 weeks. I had to sit propped up in bed, couldn't lie down because that made it hurt more, and also couldn't eat much. I ended up going to A&E when the pain hadn't diminished at all after 5 days and they kept me in overnight, did some tests and basically said 'it's muscular-skeletal, it'll go away by itself'
Flashforward 8 weeks and the pain had gone down to the point where it was constantly sore and tender, but the stabbing/tearing pain would flare up for a few minutes or a few hours and then go. I can't really emphasise how painful this 'pain' is, but it stops me breathing/moving/concentrating/EVERYTHING. When I get the pain, the only thing to do is TENs machine and go home/sleep.
Now, over the next 5 years, it kind of levelled out. It was bad sometimes and flared up, and sometimes it was fairly ok, but still always very delicate and sore and prone to sudden stabbing pains. I tried having injections of steroids into the ribs, getting acupuncture, physio, massages, anti-inflammatory meds, gabapentin, EVERYTHING. The only thing that masks the pain in that particular spot is a TENs machine.
So I figured that that was just how it was gonna be and that maybe I could get the cartilage in that rib removed and we're all good. BUT... About 2 years ago, the pain in my ribs started to feel like it was wrapping round the rib cage. In particular, I have constant pinching pains in my lower ribs and in my side, almost a bubbly feeling between/under my lower ribs, the muscles in my side/back are so sore and have an almost nagging pain to them as well. My lower ribs also 'slip' - so when you poke the joint between rib and cartilage, they pop out of place with a really weird clunking sensation. They also do this if I breathe deeply or twist.
I've also had a bunch of ongoing digestion issues - indigestion, knawing pain in my upper left abdomen, constipation, this weird thing where I physically cannot burp and so I get excess air travelling in my throat and getting stuck ALL the time and it kind of groans + nausea. And the pains 2 years ago started in particular after me eating a big ol' cheesy mushroom burger and fries (which I barely ever do because I eat so damn healthy!). I had a sudden stabbing pain (just like the one I had 5-6 years before at uni) in my lower left rib and it radiated up (kind of shooting up) into the other spot in my sternum where the main rib pain is. And this lasted for around a week before settling again but the area was so weakened and painful from that point out and now my muscles around my lower ribs into my back are tight and sore constantly.
So TLDR; I'm wondering if this is all a digestion issue, is it just complex chronic costochondritis, is it both, is it complications with my hypermobility in my joints (that I apparently have quite severely), is it fibromyalgia or a connective tissue thing?? I have seen every specialist of doctor and they only focus on their one area of interest which means ignoring the bigger picture! It's infuriating and my life has been completely on hold for 7-8 years. All the things I've wanted to do in my 20s I havent done - i havent travelled, I cant have relationships (coz too much pain), I can't have the career I want and trained for and can barely hold up the really boring job I currently have. I'm just hoping that someone will recognise some of these elements and be able to point me in a direction!
Thanks! (and sorry for this MASSIVE post) xx
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