Today was the big ‘new phsyio therapist’ day. I was excited for two reasons: I would get some more answers about my pain, and get some hands on manipulation! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my colleague (who also sees this physio) told me to expect some pain, and that ‘It’ll hurt, but he’ll sort you out.’ I was okay with that. Anything could be better than what I’ve been dealing with.
Typically, when it’s your first appointment with a physio therapist, you get assessed in the area(s) where you’re feeling pain. After getting a background of past injuries and indications of pain, this new guy bypassed assessments and went straight into the manipulation and treatment phase of the appointment. To paraphrase him ‘Many physios are all assessment in their sessions.’ And so began about twenty minutes of the crickity-crack-crack-cracking my sacroiliac joints, my lumbar vertebrae, my thoracic vertebrae, and my cervical vertebrae, (see explanation in next paragraph). Although the pain was focused in my hip area radiating to my right foot, my entire spine and pelvis got readjusted and aligned again, awesome! After every crack, I laughed because I was startled and because of the noise it make, it was so loud! At one point, in standing, I had to put my hands behind my head, and he somehow looped his arms around me, pulled me up and then crack-crack-crack!
For those of you not so savvy in anatomy people, (I love it! Got an A in university for it, just saying), please refer to the diagram below. The Cervical vertebrae are the first seven vertebrae coming from your skull; the Thoracic vertebrae are the next twelve, which go along your thoracic cavity; next, the Lumbar vertebrae are the five large vertebrae of the lower back, that join with your sacrum, which are five fused vertebrae at the bottom of your spine, which end with your tailbone (cocyx). The Sacroiliac joint is the joining of your sacrum to the ilium, your hip bone basically, and one of three bones in the pelvis (the others being the ischium and pubis). Little anatomy lesson for you, (hope it made sense!).
The physio then had me lie on another slanted bed, and used a Thera Flex on me, which has been described as a bionic hand. There are four digits on the handheld piece with move up and down at various speeds. The physio greased up my back and ran this up and down my spine at varying speeds for about ten minutes. At some points when I spoke, I sounded like I was being shaken about vigorously. Those ten minutes were amazing, although at times it felt like I got little jolts and I would twitch. When it was finished, my spine felt like pulp.
|Thera Flex digits – source|
I also got some trigger point therapy on both glute minimus (minimi?), where upon some prodding of the muscles surrounding my sacroiliac joint, we found a VERY tender spot on the right glute. To take care of this, it felt like the physio pressed his index finger on the tender point and kept pressing on it for what felt like ages. Although it was incredibly painful, it did the trick. This was repeated on the left side, and then the physio pushed his index finger up my IT band, going against the grain. I would put this pain in the top five of worst pains I’ve ever felt (behind bruising my ankle bones and recovering from a sprained neck a while back). It was explained that muscle fascia, the tissue that encases muscles, can become almost wrinkled if those muscles move around for whatever reason. Think of it like crumpling a piece of paper then trying to make it flat again, knowing that you’ll never be able to get it back to what it was like pre-crumpling. This index-finger-against-the-grain motion was to try to flatten and straighten out the fascia again. I hope it did the job because it hurt!
At what I thought would be the end of the appointment, I got up off the exam bed and noticed that my right heel still hurt so I asked about it. After a thorough prodding of it, it was concluded that I could possibly have a bruised heel. This is where last post’s onion analogy comes into play. I was comparing my myriad of injuries to an onion: each layer is like another source of pain around a joint that needs dealt with. My heel was in fact a source of two pains: one a burning sensation felt from an angry sciatic nerve; another a more dull, bruise like pain, felt once all the manipulation was done and over with, where I felt no burning. How could this bruising happen? For several reasons, which I will break down:
– as we’ve known for a while, my pelvis is out of whack and slightly crooked side-to-side.
– because of this pelvis issue, my right leg is longer than the left because my right side was dipping lower than my left.
– because my right leg was longer, my heel was striking the ground at a much greater force when I ran than the left. And because of the extreme heel strike, I’m stuck with this bruised heel.
Now that my pelvis is leveled though, the bruising should eventually go away. I have to stretch my calves, and I can ice the heel afterwards if I want. Pain issue #1: kinda sorted.
Pain issue #2 was the sciatic pain in my right side and burning of the right heel. This is caused by a pinching of the nerve somewhere in my lumbar vertebrae or sacroiliac joint, and today’s manipulation session will have helped to free the nerve and let it be.
Do I feel totally better? No, but I was told that it could take a while for things to feel better, but at least I’m on the right track. Tomorrow is anticipated to be quite sore and stiff from the cracking and Thera flex session, and I’m allowed to go running next Tuesday night, can’t wait! All this extra time at night from not running gives me more time at night, maybe I can catch up on my Winnipeg posts. I’m supposed to wait a fortnight (two weeks) and if there’s still pain, I have to go back for another crack session. In the meantime, after tomorrow, I have to stretch my calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes, and do a series of Pilates-like exercises. I’m relieved and looking forward to diminished pain, feeling normal again, and not having to protect my body and compensate anymore. Sign of relief.
Thanks to my family, friends, blog friends, and Twitter friends for their support, advice and offers of diagnosis. I appreciate everything you’ve said and please continue to share because it’s not over yet.