Posted by: Thembi | 2012/08/10

Body tenses up involuntarily

Hi Doc

I have noticed, only after paying extreme attention to my posture, that I am perpetually tensed, as though braced for danger. In bed my shoulders are high and tight, my breathing shallow and I always wake up with neck pain. I also suffer intense migraines some 11 years now, usually they start at 3am and go away around midday. I have ''seasons'' of migraines, i.e. sometimes I go for some months without them then they come for a year. When I am in a migraine season the attacks are daily, always starting in the wee hours of the morning. I take vast amounts of pain medication, all of which only take the sharpest edge off the pain off. I primarily take Migril but have found some relief from taking Compral too, but only if i drink it with a caffeine-laden energy drink. Caffeine seems to lessen the pain to the point where I can function.

Am beginning to wonder if my tensed up body may be contributing. Even when I lie in bed supposedly peacefully, I am in a tensed, braced position unless I consciously tell myself to relax. Then I will relax for as long as I remember to but as soon as my thoughts wander elsewhere, I go back into the tight position. My neck and shoulders are perpetually tensed up. How do I get rid of this problem, which I am sure is feeding my migraine problem. I am a single mother and live a stressful life, am always short of money. I also have experienced much heartache and rejection in life...I have been to two psychiatrists and three psychologists and the sense of enduring pain and rejection just never goes away, the primary cause being my child''s father walking out when I announced I was pregnant. I have also experienced sexual trauma in my life, raped three times. Maybe all of this has me perpetually braced for danger? I don''t know what else to do, I have consulted therapists at great expense and nothing seems to work the pain out of my life. In March I had some sort of emotional breakdown and was hospitalised for two weeks.

Upon discharge, I was put on anti-depressants (Cymgen) and sedatives (Seroquel). Still, I am tensed up, as though waiting for some sort of attack. How do I relax, let go of my pain and let it out of my body? From a medical perspective, is there anything I can take? I have tried the counselling route.

Please help, I feel I am failing my child by not being a healthy mother.


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Our expert says:
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I suggest that you consult your doctor for blood tests, to rule out a possible metabolic disease, like an overactive thyroid or even an overactive function of the adrenal glands. Your doctor can prescribe Trepiline at night, in combination with a beta-blocker, to alleviate your anxiousness. Your doctor can replace Cymgen with Cipralex. Cipralex is well tolerated and indicated for depression and anxiety disorder.

You can consult a physiotherapist for treatment of your severe neck and muscle spasm, as well as exercise that will help with tensed muscles. I really suggest regular exercise of at least 30 to 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise four to five times a week. Swimming is also a good exercise for tensed up muscles.


Dr Anrich

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