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xRobin

Coat Hanger Pain

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So, my new symptom is pain, specifically tight sore muscles at the back of my neck, down either side of my spine midway and along the edges of my shoulder blades. I'm pretty sure this is coat hanger pain that sometimes accompanies orthostatic intolerance.

Every night it gets to the point where I'm so stiff it hurts to move around, and I swear there are spots on my trapezius muscles are hard as rocks. So I lie on a heated buckwheat pillow to get some bloodflow to the muscles and then use a percussion massager/tennis ball/my husband's fingers/accupressure/whatever to try to work out the stiffest knots. I can usually get comfortable enough to sleep but the next day it starts up all over again.

This isn't my scariest or most disabling symptom but it's driving me crazy!

Does anyone know anything else I can do here? I'm not ready for NSAIDS yet (bowel stuff) but I'm wondering if a muscle relaxer like flexeril would be helpful or is that overkill?

Off to heat my pillow and get some relief.

(I have one of those massage chair inserts in the basement somewhere, guess I'm digging it out tomorrow!)

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XRobin, I have had ortherstatic hypotension for 30 years and never had sore muscles. Maybe you should look else where for the problem. Check with your doctor

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Wall Angles!

I have this problem too. I'm always in front of a computer hunched over. It's been worse since I got POTS because I hunch over when sitting to compress my stomach, probably to help counteract "splanchnic pooling". Stretching the back muscles where it's sore, massage, heat did not work- I needed strengthening in my back and stretching my chest and stomach. Wall angels helped a lot. I do them sitting at my desk when I feel upper back is sore. You might try doing them sitting on the floor with your back to the wall if putting your hands over your head makes you tachy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO87HFVgsGo

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Well, theoretically, the "coat hanger" pain is due to the lack of blood flow to the area. I get this pain very regularly - it takes a few days to calm down and it seems to correlate with blood pressure issues as well. I sleep on a wedge pillow with two others on top of it - this promotes natural circulation and sometimes is the only thing I can do to relieve the pain. Anti-inflammatory medication (such as advil) does not work as it isn't so much a muscle inflammation problem. Lack of blood flow to any body part will cause fairly severe pain. I have never used muscle relaxants for this pain as they tend not to mix well with dysautonomia. I would speak with your MD about muscle relaxants and the side effects to expect if you decide to go that route - again, restoring blood flow to the area will be your best potential for relief.

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Thanks, everyone!

I have this problem too. I'm always in front of a computer hunched over. It's been worse since I got POTS because I hunch over when sitting to compress my stomach, probably to help counteract "splanchnic pooling". ...Wall angels helped a lot. I do them sitting at my desk when I feel upper back is sore. You might try doing them sitting on the floor with your back to the wall if putting your hands over your head makes you tachy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO87HFVgsGo

Thanks! I will try these. Actually putting my arms above my head seems to make my pulse drop suddenly, I don't know why. But I think for just a short while it's OK. I'm pretty cognizant of my posture because of lower back pain but it does feel so much better to slouch, doesn't it?

Well, theoretically, the "coat hanger" pain is due to the lack of blood flow to the area. I get this pain very regularly - it takes a few days to calm down and it seems to correlate with blood pressure issues as well. ...I have never used muscle relaxants for this pain as they tend not to mix well with dysautonomia. I would speak with your MD about muscle relaxants and the side effects to expect if you decide to go that route - again, restoring blood flow to the area will be your best potential for relief.

That's interesting that you say that about blood pressure because mine has been running low lately. Heat definitely helps relieve some of the pain probably because it stimulates blood flow so I'll try to apply more throughout the day. I didn't know that muscle relaxers were bad for dysautonomia - any reason why?

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I have this pain also, and it's difficult. Mine is mostly in the mornings when my BP is lowest, but all day no matter how much I'm sweating (hyperadrenergic) I wrap something around my shoulders due to this pain. My husband says 'Why are we keeping the AC at 69 degrees if you're cold?' I'm not 'cold'...My shoulders hurt and are sensitive...It's almost comical in that there is such a dichotomy in my symptoms, signs and comfort.

Good luck with this. Dysautonomia is a spectrum disease as are most autoimmune diseases. Coat hanger syndrome is the same way. You may be suffering in a way with this that most can't understand.

I see a pain management specialist for my muscle relaxants, (even though I don't take opiods) and I explained I also had 'coat hangar syndrome' along with many others....He asked if it was from picking up too many coat hangers? I didn't even try and explain it. He's actually a very compassionate doctor and that was his attempt at humor as he'd never heard of it before and I didn't have the energy to try and explain.

Good luck with this. I know it hurts.

Best,

K

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