Last week was a whirlwind of a week. As some of you know, I was diagnosed with Costocondritis about 8 months ago, and it STILL hasn’t gone away. Usually, Costocondritis is a result of impact or infection in the chest, however, mine came out of nowhere. It produces pain in your ribs and sternum, spreading throughout your chest, and the pain can get pretty intense. Also, it usually goes away with a month or 2, but mine has been lingering… coupled with my chronic lower back/hip pain, doctors thought it might be helpful to do some blood tests to see what’s going on.
After blood tests and x-rays, I got a call on Wednesday night saying that I tested positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis and needed to go to Rheumatology as soon as possible. Cue ALL the questions. Well, the person on the phone was just a messenger and had no medical credentials so she couldn’t answer any of my questions; she simply told me that it was positive. Awesome. You guys, I’m extremely thankful for free healthcare through the military, but sometimes it’s really bad.
I saw the Rheumatologist last week at Walter Reed and he was absolutely wonderful at explaining everything that was going on.
The doctor I initially saw did a panel of blood tests including an antinuclear antibody (ANA), C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), Anticardiolipin antibody test, RH factor, and a complete blood count (CBC). All of them came back normal except my antinuclear antibody test. The antinuclear antibody test is done to see if there are autoantibodies that attack components of your cells’ nucleus, which triggers autoimmune diseases. My numbers were 1:64 and normal is 1:80.
Since all my other labs were negative, they don’t think there are any indicators of an autoimmune disease right now. In a small percentage of people tested, this number comes back abnormal and people never have symptoms of an autoimmune disease. So… basically they said I might have an autoimmune disease, I might not. Hopefully I’m in the small percentage, but I’m going to take care of myself like I’m the majority.
They told me to come back if I developed any symptoms consistent with an autoimmune disease. Umm ok that’s pretty broad. I really wish doctors would help people get ahead of issues instead of just saying, “Come back when something is wrong.”
Anyway, here’s what I have been doing to try to heal the Costocondritis without medication …
I’m currently doing Whole30 (I know, big surprise) to try and get rid of the Costocondritis inflammation, then I’m going to transfer to Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) after 30-45 days of Whole30 if I am still not feeling relief from the costo.
So, what the heck is AIP? AIP is a diet that helps with gut health and inflammation. It eliminates things that commonly trigger an autoimmune response (gluten, nightshades, eggs, oats, etc.) It’s similar to Whole30 where there is an elimination phase followed by a reintroduction phase so you’re not cutting out common triggers forever, you’re finding which ones trigger your immune system specifically. Paleo Mom has a ton of good information on AIP if you want to read about it more.
I’ve also eliminated caffeine from my diet completely. I know, I don’t know how I’m surviving without it, but I’m pretty sure my blood is half caffeine by now so maybe I’m not ;). In all honestly though, it’s helped a lot with anxiety and my sleep has drastically improved. Instead I’ve been drinking homemade golden milk. If you haven’t tried golden milk, you should, like now.
I’ve also started taking the following supplements that are supposed to be helpful for inflammation/chronic pain…
– Tart Cherry
– Omega 3 EPA/DHA
Finally, I started doing yoga everyday after I work out. I’m not into the spiritual aspect of yoga so I do it by myself, but it’s been crazy helpful in reducing pain. I follow Cat Meffan on YouTube and she has a ton of awesome videos, check her out if you like yoga! It’s also really helpful for stress relief. Over the last year, I’ve realized that relieving stress is just as important as sleep and eating healthy for chronic pain, so I’ve really been focusing on this aspect lately since I love being busy (way too much).
Since implementing all of this, combined with my Physical Therapy stretching, I have noticed a pretty big improvement over the last week with pain, yay! AND I haven’t had to touch the meds the doctor gave me!
I hope this was helpful for any other Costo/chronic pain sufferers. It seems like a lot, but just try implementing one thing at a time. The key, as always, is to be consistent!
Have any other suggestions? Feel free to share them below!