FAQ: How to Test for Pain of Unknown Origin That Is Migrating?

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Heart palpitations can be a pain of unknown originQ:I have recently experienced trouble breathing. It feels like I can’t take a deep enough breath. I have gone to my doctor, but they say everything is normal. Is this pain of unknown origin common for someone with Adrenal Fatigue?

A:If your doctor has checked you and said it is normal, then you need to look outside the box when you have pain of unknown origin. What is the underlying cause? Could it be stress related? Stress, whether in the form of emotional or physical or chronic illness, is a major contributing factor to Adrenal Fatigue. This is primarily due to the dysregulation of the many anti-stress hormones. Symptoms can include blood sugar imbalance, immune system weakness, and insomnia. The adrenal glands are the major stress control center of the body. This can be overwhelmed with emotional or physical stress, leading to adrenal crashes. Unfortunately, most of us live in a stressful environment or have a stressful lifestyle. That is why ensuring healthy adrenal function is important.

Pain of unknown origin can come on at any time.Q:My legs feel very weak and I cannot stand for very long. Why does this happen?

A:Chronic pain syndromes, chronic fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, joint pain of unknown origin, and fibromyalgia are common symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Glucocorticoids, primarily cortisol, are steroidal hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol output is usually high in stage 1 and 2 of adrenal fatigue. As adrenal fatigue progresses, cortisol output is often pushed to its limit. A chronically high cortisol output leads to a state of catabolism or the breakdown of proteins. Due to the lack of glucose in the blood from metabolic dysfunction, the body breaks down proteins to generate simple amino acids. The amino acids are then used as an alternative energy source from glucose to power the brain. The cycle of breakdown or catabolism is normally followed by a process of rebuilding, or anabolism. In adrenal fatigue, the rebuilding process, normally carried out by androgens, may be compromised. The rebuilding process is slowed and retarded. Muscles broken down may not be completely replaced with new ones. Collagen is broken down without replenishment. Outwardly, wrinkles develop as premature aging sets in. Internally, organ and muscle breakdowns may lead to chronic muscle and joint pain of unknown origin. Fortunately, no adrenal fatigue test is needed. A careful and detailed history by a clinician experienced in adrenal fatigue is best. Recovery from pain of unknown origin must be directed towards the underlying cause. pain of unknown origin usually subsides and spontaneously resolves as adrenal function improves.

Q:Our minds are obviously more powerful than we know; but could it be that symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue have a specific correlation with our minds and/or thought processes? Is it possible that someone is so focused on “something being wrong”, that they are just feeding their brains more negativity and, in turn, creating their own monster? Could Adrenal Fatigue, in fact, be all in our heads?

A:There is definitely a connection between the mind and the body. At what point it becomes Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome depends on the constitution of the person and how much stress and negativity he/she puts in the body until the adrenals can’t deal with it any more. Our mind and body is intimately connected in ways we do not understand, with many pathways still undiscovered. The physical symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome cannot be denied, and the ultimate source starts with the brain as the main control center. Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, therefore, in its root, represents a psycho-neuro-endocrine condition.

Consulting an experienced clinician can help with Pain of unknown origin.Q:Can adrenal glands be damaged even as a small child? If so, will that forever have an effect on the ways one would be able to manage stress or life changes?

A:Yes, even during the pregnancy period, how much stress a mother has can affect the adrenal glands functions. So if a child suffers lots of emotional and physical stress or traumas during the growing up stages, it could affect his/her ability to manage the stress of life changes in the future. My paper called Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) Causing Tired Teenager goes into this and is free online.

Q:I have a past history of MRSA infection, which required multiple rounds of antibiotics. For two years after that, I seemed to get sick almost every month due to my attacked immune system. How damaging is something like this to my adrenals, and is it possible for them to fully recover?

A:Infections (chronic sinus infections, epstein-barr, mono, etc) or inflammation usually have strong adrenal components. Most infections or inflammation involve the release of pro-inflammatory substances. The body’s response is to produce cortisol, a strong anti-inflammatory and anti-infection hormone. The weaker the adrenals, the higher the frequency of infection because the more cortisol is produced by the body to control the inflammatory response, the harder the adrenals have to work to produce more cortisol. When the adrenals are eventually exhausted, cortisol output is compromised, allowing unopposed infection to inflame the body more. This vicious circle can lead to progressively deepening adrenal exhaustion and producing more severe infections. For more information, read my paper called Stealth Infections and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome online on my site.

Q: If I have Adrenal Fatigue, why is my blood pressure high? I thought those with Adrenal Fatigue typically have low blood pressure.

A:During early stages of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, blood pressure can be high due to excessive aldosterone along with adrenaline output. As the adrenal overload becomes prominent in advance stages of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, aldosterone output is reduced and can lead to a state of chronic low blood pressure if all else is equal.

Weakness in muscles can be pain of unknown origin