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Possible Adrenal Fatigue After Oral Steroids?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by JulietBlue, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. JulietBlue

    JulietBlue Peer Supporter

    Hi everyone,

    I was wondering if anyone can give me any insight in regards to TMS and possible Adrenal Insufficiency or Fatigue following a taper of a corticosteroid that I ( regrettably ) tried a few months ago for joint inflammation and pain.

    First, I've only known about TMS for a little over a month now and I'm doing all the reading and the online SEP. I've been suffering from very debilitating and numerous chronic pain conditions for many years now and I've had some reduction in pain here and there which is giving me hope that I really do have TMS.

    Back in March, I agreed to try a taper of Prednisone for a couple of weeks to see if it would help my pain/inflammation. I got really sick while building up my taper a few days into it. I had severe severe brain fog; like I had this thick film over my brain /couldn't concentrate on anything and I literally could not sleep at all at night, loss of appetite, VERY severe anxiety that would often come out of seemingly nowhere and give me rapid and skipping heartbeats and a couple of other symptoms. At the time, I called the prescriber to tell her about what was happening and I was basically told to just hang in there for the next week and a half. That I couldn't stop the taper at that point and I was going to be reducing my dose soon.

    So I did, even though it was hell, but the real hell began after I finished the taper. My symptoms just got worse. I had severe abdominal/stomach pain and wide spread muscle and joint pain, Fatigue that literally wouldn't allow me to get out of bed, I still was suffering with severe insomnia, I had no appetite and felt sick after I tried to eat anything and the worst anxiety and panic I ever had in my life . Since I had just gotten off an SSRI 6 months prior to this and didn't want to take any prescribed drugs for anxiety fearing that it would make my severe brain fog and cognitive issues worse, I relied on taking high doses of valerian root to try to calm myself down a bit and to try to get a little sleep here and there.

    On my follow up appt I told the physician again what happened during and after the taper. She was no help at all and just said it should have been fine as long as I followed the taper instructions. I did. My PCP recommended I see an endocrinologist. I called almost all of them in my area they all had months long waiting lists to get in or they were no longer seeing patients or practicing. I decided to try to tough things out on my own and started taking more vitamins and supplements that I read might help my adrenal system balance itself out.

    It's now been over 3 months since then and although I am better then I was, I still feel like I'm suffering the effects from this. My current symptoms are:

    *Brain fog and memory/cognitive issues/ decreased motivation. This has been very recently slowly improving but it seems like only certain times of the day; even so I'm no where as "clear" as I used to be. In general it's not as bad as it was a couple of months ago but it still concerns me. In fact, this symptom concerns me the most as I have a parent who has early onset Alzhiemers/Dementia. I'm only 39 years old but the fear of this happening to me is something I'm really struggling to get rid of. I just feel like I haven't been myself at all since I took this drug a few months ago and it worries me a lot. It's also making it hard for me to get in touch with my emotions lately because I have a hard time concentrating sometimes and really absorbing what I read.

    I know the fear is probably just perpetuating the cycle, and I've also noticed that my pain and tension increases when it starts to worry me again.

    *Blurred vision. Prior to this I had really good vision, never any problems.

    *Still having issues with sleep. I am getting some good, deep sleep lately at least. but every single day at early morning hours, before the sun even comes up I wake up and experience high levels of anxiety and I am unable to get back to sleep then the anxiety improves for the most part for the rest of the day.

    *Some remaining muscle pain in my quad muscles although this has improved lately but still feel some here and there. This used to also involve my groin and back muscles initially but that has thankfully gotten better.

    *Fatigue that seems to hit me at certain times of the day. Usually early to mid/late afternoon and improves some at night. But it seems like I am resisting the urge to nap most days so that I can make sure I get to sleep at night.

    *My appetite has gotten much better although I still don't feel like it's the same pre prednisone either. But I'm able to eat now without feeling sick.

    Those are my main symptoms. I know I have read about TMS and how hormones/cortisol are released esp during times of stress etc. But thus far, I haven't read anything about how the use of oral corticosteroids could influence this imbalance and what if anything I should do about it. It's hard for me to believe that this is TMS since I could trace this back to the steroid use.

    I've been trying to be patient in letting my body recover from this naturally but I've read that can also take long periods of time and I'm not sure how much longer I can go on like this especially not knowing for sure what is causing all of this. (Could be my anxiety making it all worse as well.) Especially since I'm trying to heal myself from chronic pain using TMS knowledge. I also started doing meditation, changed my diet, trying to get whatever sleep I can manage, still taking vitamins and a few supplements. Also began exercising on most days and doing more normal things then I have in a long time but the fatigue and cognitive issues are making that much more of a challenge. It feels like I'm always under water. I have not been able to work in over 6 years and anxious to get back to it when I'm finally healed. (when, not if) I fear this would stand in the way of that.

    I also quit taking daily opioid medications about a month ago. I feel so much better off of them physically, especially after realizing they made my pain/headaches worse. I just mention this because I wonder how much of that also plays into what I think I'm dealing with with Cortisol levels and all of that. I know my brain has been through a lot the last few years and now trying to heal itself and establish new pathways. I'm sure they didn't help any though. Just makes me sad to think how sharp I used to be before taking any of this stuff compared to now. I don't even sound like my old self.

    I find myself wanting piece of mind lately that all this is related to my cortisol levels or other hormones being off balance due to my dance with Prednisone and possibly opioids. But I feel like this was more the Prednisone's doing. I did feel somewhat foggy on the strong opioids I was taking no doubt, but I still felt like myself and that I could function better in many ways especially when my pain levels would go down. Like I said, all seems different post Prednisone.

    Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Should I see a functional medicine doctor or Naturopath about this possible hormone imbalance? I decided a while ago not to see an endocrinologist especially after learning about TMS. I'm afraid they would just try to give me more drugs to reverse this and I'm so done with taking drugs of any kind if I can help it. I would be open to bio identical hormones if need be if it means I feel better. I'm also not sure If I should try testing my cortisol levels myself first with a saliva test kit.

    Just really not sure where to go from here. The more I think and worry about it ( Worrier) the worse everything gets. Even my pain symptoms. Been trying to move past this everyday and just ignore it but it's hard since I don't think this is something my mindbody just conjured up but rather due to an outside influence ( the drugs) that threw me off balance.

    Anyone have any input or advice? Similar experience with any of this?
    Balsa11 likes this.
  2. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Juliet,

    I had a similar situation prior to learning about TMS. I had pain from fibromyalgia and chronic migraine, and severe seasonal allergy-like symptoms. The doctor I was seeing prescribed prednisone for the allergies. For 10 days I felt wonderful. I was free of all my TMS symptoms. I thought I'd finally found the answer. Then the bottom dropped out, and I suddenly became so tired I couldn't sit up. This lasted for days. I remember having bad brain fog as well. I stopped taking the prednisone. It took awhile, but I eventually went back to my normal TMS of chronic pain and migraines, and allergy symptoms. It was one of many bad experiences trying to find relief from what turned out to be TMS. Fortunately, I am symptom free now, except for some continuing problems with allergy symptoms.

    I also took prednisone for a few days when I had a severe poison ivy reaction. I remember not being able to sleep and feeling very anxious. Two of my girlfriends also react like this to prednisone.

    I also had severe withdrawal symptoms when I stopped taking Tramadol for pain, even though I did it gradually. My brain doesn't like changes.

    And, yes, the doctors made it sound like I couldn't possibly be reacting to these things like I did, as it wasn't a typical reaction.

    I would caution you against seeing a Naturopath or functional med doctor if you truly believe you have TMS. I've never heard of anyone recovering from TMS symptoms from seeing one of those doctors.

    Have you seen a TMS doctor for a diagnosis? Not necessary, but may help you to be sure about diagnosis. Otherwise, I suggest continuing to read and do the SEP. It sometimes takes awhile for many of us to be symptom free. So patience and persistence is essential.

    Best wishes.........
    Balsa11 and JulietBlue like this.
  3. JulietBlue

    JulietBlue Peer Supporter

    Hi Ellen,

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    I can relate to what you said about your doctors making it sound like you couldn't have a reaction to medication like that. Mine reacted the same way. I've been really disgruntled with doctors in general and their tendency to jump to prescribe harmful medications but at the time, I was so desperate to have at least some of my pain alleviated somehow. I was willing to try anything. I can't even say I got any kind of relief from it, just very ill.

    Can I ask you what kind of withdrawal symptoms you experienced with Tramadol and for how long? I was on a different opioid medication but just wondering if my withdrawal symptoms were similar. Also, do you remember how long it took you to feel somewhat normal again after stopping each medication? I don't think my brain is thrilled much with all the changes in the last few months either but at least now it isn't being bombarded with numerous drugs. I'm happy about that.

    I haven't seen a TMS doc yet. There's none in the area that I live and the closest one is almost an hour away. Right now transportation is difficult and my finances very tight. But I am hoping to make an appointment to see him in the next month or so just so I can talk to him about all of this and maybe get an official diagnosis.

    I'm finding out lately how important both Patience and persistence are through this process. That part has been kind of a struggle for me lately but I'm definitely going to continue with the SEP. I'm learning a lot so far.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    It's been a few years since I stopped the Tramadol. But I remember having an increase in pain, motor agitation in my entire body, insomnia, sweating, irritability, brain fog, and depression. This occurred even though I tapered the dose gradually. And the docs like to say that Tramadol isn't addictive, but there are many stories on the internet of others having similar difficulties. I don't remember how long I experienced these symptoms, but it was at least a month. A very difficult time, but so glad I did it.

    Hoping things get better for you.......Hang in there.
    Balsa11 and JulietBlue like this.
  5. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    Doctors always seem to dismiss the notion of their 'safe' drugs causing any ill-effects. A few years ago, I had periodic hydro-cortisone shots for what I now know was TMS-related skin problems. The last one I got shot my anxiety levels through the roof. I had a very rapid heartbeat and couldn't relax at all for several days after that. I was fearful and having undiagnosed TMS, which made it worse. So, I'm not surprised that you are suffering so after taking the prednisone. It's not the benign drug it is made out to be.

    You are on the right track. I would resist the temptation to visit any kind of doctor for this, as you may well be prescribed more medications. And they aren't going to recognize it as TMS. Even supplements can be harmful. It may take a while for the effects of the prednisone and the opioids to leave your system. That's a double-whammy. With TMS, your nervous system and body in general is very sensitive and it needs time to calm down and recover. In my experience, the sensitivity to drugs is also a TMS symptom, so you are in the right place as you deal with this.
    Balsa11, JulietBlue and Ellen like this.
  6. JulietBlue

    JulietBlue Peer Supporter


    Thank you so much for answering my questions. I truly appreciate it.

    I have to admit, I had a REALLY bad pain and brain fog day today and I was almost tempted to give in to pain medication for the first time in a month. Strangely, my neck, head, shoulder and facial pain weren't so bad today but my knee was. Couldn't concentrate on anything. I decided to try to test my ability to kneel down and get back up last night which is always extremely hard for me to do and it didn't work at all. I woke up early this morning with the most horrible pain in and around my knee cap and very painful spasms in my thigh muscles. I ended up taking some ibuprofin This one knee is what has been giving me a lot of doubts lately. Already had two surgeries on it and it's been bothering me for many years. I've been really into the TMS learning too but my knee isn't responding like my other symptoms are are those were even more severe consistently. Just really confused about it. I'm really looking forward to seeing a TMS doc asap.

    "With TMS, your nervous system and body in general is very sensitive and it needs time to calm down and recover. In my experience, the sensitivity to drugs is also a TMS symptom, so you are in the right place as you deal with this."

    Thanks Cricket for your reassurance and continued kindness.

    You're right about the nervous system. And it's very true that I've always been sensitive to almost every drug I've ever tried. I think a lot of this is being caused by my nervous system too. Maybe a combo of both with some opiate withdrawal thrown in. Like you said, a double whammy, maybe triple. I have seen posts from people with TMS who say they are suffering from some kind of brain fog or cognitive issues, sometimes even after the pain leaves. Mine lately seems to come and go It sporadically but I still never feel really clear and connected to myself or to anything really.

    Last night it seemed to lift a little bit. Then back in it today. I have noticed that it's sometimes worse when I'm feeling anxious or stressed out. Fear is a big factor too. I fear the fog and what it might mean or that it won't go away, which seems to just cause more fog. Some days like today, I feel like I'm losing the battle all together. Pain and fog. Other days, I feel like there's hope and things will eventually be ok. It's really been quite a roller coaster ride.

    I'm really trying to do what I can lately to allow my nervous system to calm down and to give my brain and body a chance to heal; Finding it hard though. I have always had this anxiety pretty much my whole life ( just recently realized it) And now that I look back, I have always held most of it in my body through tension. Still do. It's almost like I can't really grasp how to stop doing it despite how much I read about TMS lately. I would do anything to feel some clarity and normality in my mind again. It would be nice if the pain would take a hike too. wavea
    Balsa11 likes this.
  7. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    I'm really trying to do what I can lately to allow my nervous system to calm down and to give my brain and body a chance to heal; Finding it hard though. I have always had this anxiety pretty much my whole life ( just recently realized it) And now that I look back, I have always held most of it in my body through tension. Still do. It's almost like I can't really grasp how to stop doing it despite how much I read about TMS lately. I would do anything to feel some clarity and normality in my mind again. It would be nice if the pain would take a hike too.

    I'm right there with you. The brain fog is secondary (to me) to the pain but it's there nonetheless. I've read, and been told, that anxiety increases as the pain recedes. For me, the anxiety has increased and that brings the pain back with a vengeance. It's been in new places, which I guess is good in the sense that it proves TMS but it's tiresome. I will be happy when it finally takes a hike. I have too much I want to do to sit around nursing achy back, shoulders and now knees and forearms.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  8. JulietBlue

    JulietBlue Peer Supporter


    I completely understand; I feel the same way. I woke up again this morning with some mind racing and anxiety and here I am again pretty deep in the fog. Some of my pain is noticeably better today, especially my knee and neck/shoulder/facial pain which used to be very severe and constant. Weird thing is though that beside the fog, I've been having a sudden allergy attack today. Can't stop sneezing, blowing my nose, etc. So weird. I'm going to assume it's TMS too though. At least I'm trying to.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  9. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    It IS TMS, it is! :happy:
    JulietBlue likes this.
  10. JulietBlue

    JulietBlue Peer Supporter

    Thanks Cricket! Still sneezed a few times here and there today but a huge improvement from yesterday. Still having symptoms in other areas but my knee feels great for the first time in months, years actually! I can't bend it without intense pain! I really can't believe it and hope my other remaining symptoms follow suit. Incredible! Brain fog still coming and going though. I noticed today that it was much worse when I was with someone who tends to make me very tense and anxious. As soon as I left this person's company, the brain fog improved somewhat. Definitely think it's combo of things but now I know TMS is one of them.
  11. Celayne

    Celayne Well known member

    JulietBlue, I'm glad to hear your knee pain has gone. That's just great!

    I've had similar experiences with tension-inducing people. I try to limit that kind of exposure as much as possible, just because. It's not worth it; they're not worth it.
  12. JulietBlue

    JulietBlue Peer Supporter

    I hear you and completely agree. Though I'm finding it hard to limit the exposure in the situation I'm in because it's family and I to deal with them on a regular basis. I guess I'm still learning how to try to deal with that and the emotions that arise from it.
  13. JulietBlue

    JulietBlue Peer Supporter

    Back for more advice. Feeling so confused.

    I know a couple people previously advised against this but I decided to see an endocrinologist yesterday to try to get to the bottom of some of my symptoms that might not be TMS related. I've been reading and learning about TMS for two months now and I do believe that is the cause of my numerous chronic pain diagnosis that I've had over the years now and I really wanted to believe that it's also the cause of my returning anxiety and cognitive issues . I've had a reduction in pain more or less the last few weeks but these other symptoms that might be hormone related don't seem to be going anywhere and today do to my fear and uncertainty, I'm having a bit of a relapse with the pain as well.

    Still getting anxiety attacks ( early morning) , Heart palps that come and go, severe brain fog, memory and cognitive issues, lack of focus and concentration, blurry vision that also comes and goes, severe sleeplessness and insomnia, ( Still can't sleep for more then a few hours a night. I can fall asleep ok, but always wake up a few hours later with anxiety symptoms out of nowhere with racing heart, stomach pain, tight neck muscles), moodiness, weight fluctuation, irritability, tiredness and fatigue, depression puffy face that comes and goes, sore throat upon waking. It's like one day I feel optimistic about the fact that I am sure that I have TMS and can attribute the years of pain to it and I'm going to recover, the next day I'm so depressed because of these other symptoms that seem to come out of nowhere. I can't even feel happy about any reduction of pain I've noticed this far. It's effecting everything in my life and hindering my attempts at recovery. So sick of feeling tired and like I'm losing my mind everyday.

    The endo I saw yesterday was very thorough. She spent over two hours with me getting my history, symptoms and an exam. She went over basic blood work results that I brought in with me. Between the labs, the exam and based on my symptoms she has a few ideas as to what might be going on but she doesn't want to diagnose until I get my Thyroid/hormones tested. It sounds like she is leaning towards either a thyroid issue of some kind or a type of pre diabetic condition. ( runs in my family and my blood work shows an irregularity so far) I think she said hyperthyroidism is a possibility. One thing she pointed out was that my thyroid glands in the front of my neck were larger then normal. I had a general practitioner tell me the same thing years ago but they brushed it off. I'm going to get the labs done and go back to see her for results in a few weeks. But just even thinking about feeling like this and dealing with these other symptoms for another few weeks is really depressing. I'm so tired and I'm finding it the most frustrating thing in the world not to be able to think clearly or remember things that I use to have no problems remembering. It's scary. I try not to fear it but it keeps coming back everyday. Even when I get short periods of thinking clearer.

    I went as long as I could trying not to get any other types of doctors involved but I just cannot take this fatigue, insomnia and brain fog any longer. I feel like if it is related to hormones and not TMS then I need to know sooner rather then later and if everything is normal then I can at least rule it out. And I do know about the connection between the endocrine system and the nervous system. I've tried everything possible to try to calm my nervous system down the last couple of months but so far it doesn't seem to be making any difference.

    When I wake up at 3 in the morning with severe anxiety, it's hard for me to remember and practice things like Somatic Tracking or anything that I previously read really. I try but part of me just is so frustrated that this seems to happen the most when I have little control ( waking out of deep sleep) I've tried getting up and trying to calm myself down before going back to bed, yet i still can't fall asleep. I've tried numerous things. Everything I've been doing has helped reduce my pain levels in general but all these other symptoms remain unaffected and it's really bringing me down.

    Anyone who has had both TMS and or Thyroid issues? I'm still not finding a whole lot of info about that. I find it hard to believe that ALL hormone imbalances or thyroid issues are TMS.

    I really don't want to give up now especially since I've had some progress with my pain. But it just seems so hard to keep learning when my brain just doesn't feel receptive. It's been a constant battle to try to learn through this fog and keep away any doubts. Today, I just am so down and feeling like giving up. So I came here to vent instead. I just want to feel like myself again so bad. It's been so long.

    Thanks in advance everyone. I really appreciate having this forum to refer to and the good people on it.
    Balsa11 likes this.

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