Change, Stress, and Chronic Pain

We have all read about the linkages between stress and chronic pain of all kinds. Our bodies know when life is getting a bit “extra” and it reacts accordingly.

Many of you may have noticed that when big events or changes in your life and routine happen, your burning mouth pain may flare. If you are wise, you have anticipated this might happen, have your coping strategies at hand, and are up to date on any medication that may be helping you.

What are coping strategies for burning mouth syndrome or disorder?

The Burning Mouth Support website has a whole page devoted to them here.

More information and help that other sufferers have found useful are at Stuff That Works – Burning Mouth Syndrome. Have I found many things they discuss to be useful? Not personally, but if I have learned anything about this mystery disease after nearly fifteen years, it is that it is very individual, and different things work for different people. Sometimes just having people to talk with about it or feeling like you are part of a community can help.

Is there a cure? No.

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Effexor XR is a Qualified Success

I have written before about Effexor XR/Venlafaxine HCI, a medicine my Neurologist recommended since it is one of the few meds out there that I haven’t tried!

Up to now, the only thing that truly lessened my escalating burning neuralgia was Clonazepam ODT, and the side effect of that, as those of you who have tried it know well, is drowsiness.

I found over time that I could control the timing of my doses and coordinate caffeinated drinks (coffee in the morning, iced green tea until noon) to ward off daytime drowsiness. It was working okay and I was able to function. When flares arose (mostly after dental work of any kind) I could increase the dosage and the caffeine. Life was continuing to be workable.

Effexor XR/Venlafaxine HCI is an antidepressant, and my neurologist started me out with a minimal dose of 37.5 mg once a day. I had no discernible relief from it at that level, so we doubled the dosage to 75 mg once a day. At that level, I was experiencing some relief (The burning became more of a tingle that would intensify through the day until I took the minimum dose of Clonazepam ODT around dinner time.) but it wasn’t knocking the BMS out.

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Express Yourself! Life with Burning Mouth

I have discussed the power of communication before when it comes to managing chronic pain. Realistic representation of your pain levels, educating new specialists about Burning Mouth Syndrome, and even sharing with family and friends about your condition; what helps…and what doesn’t.

We have discussed counseling and therapy and I highly recommend it if you can find and afford it. It will give you a listening ear from a professional who has “no skin in the game.” You cannot overwhelm them with your frustration and pain, or frighten them about your reactions to it. You cannot express any emotions that they have not seen before. They are required to have professional boundaries, and short of your expression of the intent to self-harm or harm others, they will actively listen and then give you some ideas of how to handle these emotions. It’s a gift you give yourself.

But, you say, “I can’t afford that.” Or, “I don’t want to open up to a stranger.”

I hear you.

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Preparing for the Holidays with Burning Mouth

We have covered a bit of this ground before, and again I urge you to communicate, take the rest (and medicines) you need, and use your coping strategies to get through the stress of the holidays.

Stress can be part of the “Holiday Package.

Things have loosened up and you may be putting family events together, gathering to open gifts, and doing things you haven’t been able to do for a couple of years. It can be hard to get back into the swing of things.

Presents? Oh, don’t get me started! The logistics of getting everything to everyone with the uncertainty as to whether things will get there in time…

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When Contemplating a Flare – Burning Mouth

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

Over the last few posts, I have kept you up to date on my new medication, Effexor XR/Venlafaxine HCI.

My Neurologist initially prescribed a very low dose with no effect. We doubled it and saw the burning neuralgia back off into a tingle for most of the day. We doubled it again and got amazing relief that lasted all through the day, keeping the pain to a very tolerable tingle. Then the side effect of muscular tics began and we had to cut that little honeymoon short.

The upshot?

I am back on that medium dose of 75mg per day and I usually have just a light tingle that escalates. Sometimes I can skip that late afternoon dose of Clonazepam ODT, but other days I need it to blunt the tingle that is becoming too strong. I haven’t had a real flare yet with Effexor XR so I am unsure whether that means it is preventing them, or the stars just haven’t aligned yet. I will let you know because the ultimate test looms ahead!

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Avoiding The Pain You Can-Burning Mouth

My posts here are mainly about Burning Mouth Syndrome, (or Disorder if you prefer). Either one fits. I share medications that have worked and not worked for me, strategies to track your pain and see what is having an effect, and coping strategies to help you get through day after day of chronic pain.

Today, I am addressing another kind of pain we can get every time we go for a vaccination. Flu, Covid, Covid Booster, updated Covid Booster, Shingrex, or any other that is recommended…yes, the dreaded arm pain from injections! Some of you find it quite debilitating, some can barely move their arm the next day, and some have varying levels of discomfort depending on what they got this time.

You may decide to get a Covid shot or not, your choice. But darn it, we also lose people every year to flu and it is nearly always preventable in otherwise fairly healthy folks. The flu vaccine has been used for years with few issues, and although there are years when it is more effective than others, it is still worth getting to me. Take a look at the influenza news coming out of Australia and it will give you a preview of what we may be dealing with this winter.

So how do you avoid the arm soreness that can come with vaccinations?

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Continuing Effexor XR for Burning Mouth Pain

Burning Mouth Cloud

My last post let you know that my Neurologist had prescribed Effexor XR to help with my burning neuralgia.

At 37.5 mg, per day there was no discernible effect. We went up to 75 mg.

After a while at this level, I noticed that the burning had become more of an intense tingling for part of the day. I reported this to my Neurologist and he suggested we double the dosage.

At 150 mg I began to notice that even the tingling was lessening for most of the day. Some days it was hardly discernible until late afternoon when it would sometimes get too intense and I would need one dose of Clonazepam ODT .5 mg to control it. (I am approved for up to 2 mg of Clonazepam a day, so this is a small dose.)

I reported these changes as I approached a month of the 150 mg dose, and asked what he would recommend. He responded that we should give this dose another month and see if accumulated time makes any additional difference. I agreed, and so this is what we are doing!

After over fourteen years of Burning Mouth pain, tingling is a blessing. Is the pain all gone?

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Effexor XR and Burning Mouth – An Update

I reported in a previous post that my Neurologist had suggested that I try Effexor XR (Venlafaxine) in addition to my daily dose of Clonazepam/Klonipin ODT.

He started me with the lowest dose, and it didn’t seem to do anything so as we had agreed, he doubled the dose and I started taking it once a day.

I immediately came down with a head cold that turned into bronchitis and set everything on hold for a while. Now I have had a clear month at the higher dose and I have noticed something interesting. My daily dose of Clonazepam ODT has always been subject to some fluctuations due to flares in pain after dental work, abnormally dry air, or those elusive good days when the pain level isn’t too high, so it took about a week to notice the pattern.

I was not burning so much as tingling at the beginning of my pain cycle. I had been able to get by with one dose of Clonazepam ODT a day for a week.

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The Current Covid Variant and Burning Mouth

Stuff That Works – Burning Mouth – Read about it below!

If you have been following the news, you know that most current cases of Covid, including reinfections, are the Omicron BA-5 variant, which has two faces for us. The good face is that it is not as virulent and fatal for most people. Note I do not say all. The bad face is that it is even more infectious than measles and doctors note correlations between accumulated injury to the body and long Covid symptoms with reinfections. For those of us with the chronic pain of Burning Mouth, the prospect of adding another layer of symptoms or exacerbating the ones we have with hacking coughs and congestion is daunting.

Interested in learning more? NPR explains it here very well.

Our immediate family has remained relatively unscathed from Covid. Our younger daughter and her husband who live in another state got it, but our daughter is a front-line healthcare professional and they are both somewhat frequent travelers, so that was probably unavoidable. They are young, healthy, and did okay since they were fully vaccinated and boosted, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

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