Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mystery Pain Strikes Back

Late post today, as our modem is shot at home and I've been wearing out Google at work trying to figure something out. The running is fine, by the way. I was a bit tired after running 6 miles easy with Lucas and the Running Shop gang last evening, but I knocked out 10 miles this morning. I stopped doing pick-ups after my first two, as my right calf and hamstring were complaining a bit about the hills I ran yesterday.

Unfortunately, running is taking a backseat as I try to figure out what the hell is going on with my body. For several years I have had intermittent episodes where I feel an intense burst of what I guess is nerve pain where my right lat muscle and armpit converge. At the same time, I get a slightly less intense burst of pain just above the back of my right knee, along what feels like the largest tendon near the hamstring. The pain feels like an electric shock, and lasts from one to ten seconds. After it stops, it will often come and go again in fits and bursts for 1 to 5 minutes. If I'm carrying something I immediately have to put it down, and I usually try to either brace myself for it by leaning against a wall or a chair, or by lying down in a fetal position. The latter strategy was used at home this morning, though it was quickly followed by Finn sitting on my head and Haiden covering me with a large, down comforter. These things did not help. After 5 or 6 bursts it went away, and aside from one more occurence about an hour later it's been fine.

What's really frustrating is that this pain will crop up once every three or four months and "buzz" me several times over the course of a few days or a week. Then it vanishes.

I had a case of shingles in college, and Kiera was convinced that the pain is associated with that. Unfortunately I had the shingles on my head, and on the other side of my body so I'm doubtful. It's also goofy that the pain happens both above and below the waist, since that means it's happening along two different nerve tracts. This doesn't seem to fit the normal profile of sciatic pain.

I thought I'd put my malady out there just to see if any of the friends or strangers who read this blog have any idea what this could be. So far it hasn't happened during a run or a race, and for that I'm thankful. It also doesn't seem to happen while I'm sleeping. Google has been amusing, but I haven't come across anyone else suffering from the same type of pain.

With luck this will pass again quickly, and hopefully I'll get through the marathon before it finds me and strikes again.

Training: 10 miles, 1:09:40, 6:58 pace, with 2 sets of pick ups


BigFoot ? Marty said...

Thanks for your blog. I like to read abouit others challenges with pain and exercise as well as the triumphs.
A few years ago a running partner had some similar lower leg and back pain and eventually was able to relieve it with stretching. apparently there is a large connection between the hamstring and back. Tight hamstrings, glutesand lower back can manifest in discomfort at the opposite ends in your case or heavily at one end (my buddies entire back was in spasm).
He also got relief from some deep tissue massage (READ: painful but relieving). When he added some serious stretching even a little yoga from a book he made it out painfree after 6-7 weeks. During that period he ran but limited and built back up but ran amarathon about 3 months later.
As a survivor of 7 football related knee surgeries I am always focused on total fitness and wellness so I can run- I have run 6 marathons more than a dozen halfs and am now training for ultradistances.

Eric said...

I went from severe nerve pain to small fiber neuropathies and ended up here, at Porphyria, which I think is a pretty good candidate for an explanation.

Obviously, talking to a doctor is a good start. Although I must say I have learned a lot more from Google than I have from my doctors over the years. Good luck.

Mike said...

Thanks for the comment Marty, I have had a massage therapist working a bit above the pain ask if I'd had some trauma or a car accident in that area, as there was a fair amount of tightness. My wife was a massage therapist some time ago, and she always called me a wimp when it came to pressure, so deep tissue massage does frighten me a bit. But hell, whatever works.

Eric, I'm embarassed to say I already looked up "meritocracy" yesterday since it had been so long since I'd heard it, so "porphyria" is next. I'm still not convinced Blax's "MB" even exists though. You two probably have more in common than you think. I'll follow the links and investigate. At first glance that sounds a bit too serious for what I'm experiencing (thank goodness). No pain since walking to the car this morning, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed about it passing. As for getting it diagnosed, it's like taking your car in to the shop. It never makes the noise for the mechanic.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike,
Thanks for your blog - my fellow training partners and I follow it quite regularly. One of them used to live in Tucson, so he's familar with the locale many of your workouts. Anyhow, I thought I would as my sports medicine physician friend about your condition. Here's what he came back with:

it could be central with a vessel-aneurism or budge or even tumour in the brain or in the spinal cord with a cyst or collection of vessels-he needs MRI and to see a neurologist. Could be in peripheral nerve system with onset of neuropathy or even MS so EMG and Nerve Conduction Studies would help. From the axilla a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome would give either nerve or blood vessel-artery or vein compression to the neck and arms but not the legs as you state
For nerve damage a metabolic condition like anaemia from iron,B12 or Folate Deficiency, altered thyroid function, Diabetes or auto immune disorders like Lupus need to be ruled out .A disc in the neck could also hit arm and hamstring as a possibility.

I hope this is not too alarming, but the jitst of the response is that it needs to be checked out by someone more knowledgable than a family physician.

We'll be down at CIM, so maybe we'll see you on the start line. We'll be aiming for around 2:40 or below. Look for the blue VFAC singlets.


Mike said...

Nice to hear from you Matt. Is this your club? I'll definitely look for you, as I'm hoping for 2:35-2:36 there.

Thanks for asking about the pain. The head of internal medicine at the UA medical center suggested an MRI and a sleep lab study some time ago, which sounds in line with what your friend mentions. I just feel so damn healthy otherwise it's hard to fathom lupus or the like, though I'm not ruling anything out. Looks like I have some more fancy words to google now too.

I think the disc suggestion is a good lead. I wasn't aware that a disc could affect both an arm and a leg. My car was rear-ended pretty hard when I was in college, which led to a really tight back/neck for awhile. The pain this time did fire for the first time while I was lifting something and twisting on a ladder too, which could aggravate the discs. Thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

You've got our club right. Glad to be of some assistance and hope to meet you at the start line.

I was down in Tucson in April for the first time and loved the running. Lots of Canadians there training.

Happy training,