Monday, October 31, 2016
A New Hope?
When I talked about Graston and acupuncture last week, one of you mentioned that you had dry needling done. When I read that, I remembered hearing the term before but couldn't remember what it was and looked it up. It basically takes acupuncture needles, sticks them in the knots of your bunged up muscle (wherever that may be) and forces the muscle to release, realize it's injured (on a minor level) and lay down new nerves and pain responses to basically give the injury you're going through amnesia for it's current incorrect coping mechanism.
I found a place on the other side of town that said no referral was needed (of course our insurance ended up saying we needed one...jerks) so I set up a consult for Friday morning. The guy said they deal with compartment syndrome all the time and he thought this could be really successful for me. This sounded better to both the Mr and I than going systemic with the suggested muscle relaxers the chiro wanted to go with because I just don't mess around with meds especially of the addictive kind. I see people close to me who are addicted to them though they would never in a million years consider themselves to be. Not a chance I'm willing to take unless forced. When I had my chiro appointment last Thursday, I told him I was at the point I was ready for whatever invasive measure needed to happen and when he mentioned the muscle relaxers, I told him the PCP was booked out a month and that as an alternative I booked a consult with a physical therapist to see if I would be a candidate for dry needling. He perked up and was very excited that I had taken the step to do that. He said we need to get aggressive and that my life has been disrupted too long by this and at this point he doesn't care who gets me better, as long as I get better. When I told him I was sore after WATP, particularly after side to sides and hamstring curls, he asked me to demonstrate a curl and when I did, his eyes widened and he said "no...stop doing that. That is lengthening and shortening your hamstring and a hamstring is not meant to be worked that way so, no more of that. Basically do any cardio that doesn't do that." I said "soooo...walking only." He sheepishly grinned and said "yeah, pretty much."
The Mr went with me to my consult and as is typical "me" fashion, I wrote down my symptoms, method of treatment and problems I've had going back to 2012. I also mentioned losing over 200 lbs and that exercise is 6 days per week. (I am ALWAYS making sure new doctors know I have lost a poopload of weight and exercise regularly so as not to make assumptions about me based on my size.) She went over the list I gave her, which ALL doctors seem to love by the way so if you want to make sure your doc knows everything you need them to know, write a summary of symptoms and treatments before your appointment. She recorded me walking both with and without my shoes on. She did see how guarded my legs are when I walk with no shoes on and my "cheat" to not put my foot down. She watched me go up and down a set of stairs and said other than the no shoes cheat, she didn't see anything of major concern there which was good. Then came the range of motion and flexion tests. I knew I wasn't going to have great results especially on the left side and it did start to yank on me and she told me I was the boss so if something hurt, tell her I'm stopping.
Then came the strength tests. Wow. She had me try to oppose her or not let her push my leg down from different angles. When it came to pushing my hips down, it was downright pathetic and couldn't stop her at all. I mean when you're my size, you're doing good enough just to hold your leg up but to have someone say "don't let me push you down", it was darn near impossible and before that I would've just attributed it to me having big legs. Nope. Basically...my ass is failing me. Literally. I have ZERO strength in my gluteus medius or maximus. I said "would clamshells help with that?" and she said "YES!!! Why?" I shrunk and said "I may have been told to do those before and didn't keep up with them." She laughed and said that was okay but I told her I thought it was just for when I was being treated for TTS and she said do it every day for the rest of my life because it will keep those muscles and my legs strong. (You too guys! Especially if you have a desk job for sure!) I told her that because of this condition, I have not been able to do a lower body strength session including squats or any cardio involving extensive lower body. She said she understood that and that needed to happen in order to do the initial healing. But now we needed to get inside of the muscle, relieve the pressure and tightness and as I heal from those micro-traumas, she will give me physical therapy exercises to do that will strengthen my lower body so that the butt does it's job to lift and support everything below it to have a normal functioning leg. Like you know the hamstring curls he doesn't want me to do? The reason I'm so sore around my knees and lower thighs is because my rump doesn't have the strength to pull up my quads the way they're supposed to. She showed me anatomy books and explained what was going on, where we were going to target and we'd deal with my "pissed off muscles" and that will likely include Graston to get rid of the adhesions (oy) as well as dry needling and such.
I initially told her that I asked my chiro Thursday if there was any possibility of being better by our Christmas trip and he kind of shook his head no. I said when I booked the trip, I envisioned the Mr and I snowshoeing around our property and at this point, I'd be happy with "hey, I can walk beside him without THINKING of walking." She said "snowshoeing in the snow is the goal." I think she took that as a challenge. LOL I told her when I told the chiro that, he said his goal was to get me back to doing all of the exercises I did before with no restrictions. She agreed and said she absolutely thinks together they will get me there. I burst into tears and felt so relieved at a plan that not only addresses the current problem but sets me up to get stronger for the future so that this is no longer my life of every two years having some leg issue and spending 6 months recovering.
Then she said she'd go ahead and do some needling on me which I didn't expect since they said none would be done when I made the appointment. (But secretly, I hoped she would) She decided to just do the left side (my problem child) in a "low dose" to see how I reacted to it so that both legs weren't sore at once. I only felt a slight pinch once or twice but the Mr said there were about 10 needles in my leg. One of them in the most tender spot did kind of twitch a bit and she said that is the response we're looking for and it should get better in a few minutes. It did lessen about 5 minutes later. After 10 minutes, she took them out and said she wants to see me twice a week for at least the next month to see how I do. When I got off the table she was like "how is it, does it feel better?" and I was thinking "lady, this isn't some miracle treatment!" I said, 'yeah, it's a little looser' and it kind of was. But we went to a grocery store afterward and I was amazed at how much it loosened further in just 10 minutes. I kind of wished she'd done the right side too because then it felt super tight in comparison. I swear I felt like Jell-o in the left leg sometimes because my ankle is not used to having that kind of motion in it.
As the night progressed, I got more and more sore at the needle sites, particularly the twitchy one because that's where my compression sleeve rubbed a bit. We walked the hood for an hour and I made special attention to walk normally and not guard myself even when I was in my house slip ons because they are flatter and tend to stretch those muscles a little more. I had to keep telling myself if I guarded and shortened/tensed those muscles, I was going to stunt my healing. So I'm making a real effort to walk as normally as possible. The next day, it was pretty throbby and sore but honestly, the right side felt the same but tight muscle wise. If that was low dose, this will likely be a sore road ahead but if it means I don't have to go through this every year, I'll suck it up and do what I need to do.
For the first time in a while, I have a new hope that maybe I can actually beat this. That maybe the Mr won't have to listen to me gripe about it or watch me wince in pain while doing nothing more than bending over or just standing there. Of course this means I will have 3 doctors appointments per week at least from now to Christmas with two of them being 35 minutes away but if it means I will get better and stay better, I don't care. I will do what I have to. Hopefully it will be the final component to speed this shizz up. Mama's got too much to do to be sidelined any longer!
Have you ever done physical therapy for a chronic injury?
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