Thursday, April 19, 2012

Physical therapy...ouch!

physical therapy table

Where ever did we get the notion that physical therapy wouldn't be so bad, that the 'good' pain would out-weigh the bad? So okay--that was MY notion...but I have to tell you that the good pain does NOT out-weigh the bad! In has made it worse!

Several months ago, I began experiencing a lot of pain in my shoulder joints as well as in the center of my back between my shoulder blades, and relentless pain in my collarbone area. With this pain, there became increasing soreness and stiffness to the point where it was effecting my range of motion in my arms. 

When I went to my doctor and told her about it, she did some simple strength tests to see if I was losing strength in my arms...and I had. Her asking me to resist or push against her hands... acerbated the pain. She asked me then, in November (2011), if I wanted to be referred to a specialist, and at that time, I said 'not yet'. I wasn't ready and I really hoped that it would pass...thinking it was merely a case of arthritis.

However, over the next few months, the pain steadily became worse, and lifting anything that had some weight to it...say from up in the kitchen cupboards, hurt so bad that I nearly dropped whatever I was getting. I knew that I had to give in and see a specialist. Again.

In 2005, I had similar pain in my right shoulder, which then was diagnosed as being caused by had gnawed at the end of my collarbone roughening it so that it was basically chewing into the tissue at the shoulder joint itself. Surgery was done...1/2 inch was taken off my collarbone to relieve the pain. (This was done after cortisone treatment, which lasted all of 4 hours for pain relief!) After I healed from the day surgery...I felt good as new!

That was until last October, when the pain came back...not in just the right shoulder, but in BOTH shoulders. Ugh!

I finally went to see my doctor again last month and she suggested I try physical therapy while waiting to see the specialist, as she knew it would take a few weeks to get in to see him. (Busy guy, I take it!) At first, I hesitated...thinking 'what if' physical therapy makes things worse since we don't know what is going on? I decided to talk to a physical therapist, and she asked that I do see them...because the last thing I wanted was for the muscles and tendons to seize. So, I agreed to go. As it turned was too little too late.

My first appointment was last Thursday, which was little more than a consultation, getting my history down and seeing what I could and couldn't do. This past Tuesday was my second appointment...let the pain begin. And ohhhh boy did it! The sad thing is...I did nothing but sit there and let the therapist do her magic, only to find out the tendons all down my back, my neck and shoulder areas HAD seized...and are as hard as stone.

First came the stimulator, much like my Tens unit:
Tens unit
What mine does look like
electrode pads that are self-adhering

The therapist put the electrodes on each shoulder, and over that, she placed heating pads much like the ones shown below:

moist heating pads 

I have to admit, that part of therapy was a 'hurts-so-good' 15 minutes. Then, she let me rest a few, took the heating pad and replaced the electrodes with a different kind, which stimulated a kind of cortisone through my skin, hoping to loosen the tendons. The pads look a little different though: 

Another 15 minutes waiting for this to work through my skin, and then she had me sit in a chair and with a gel, she began to massage my shoulders, neck, and back. Here was a hurts-so-good feeling...and it made me feel a little sore afterwards, but nothing I couldn't live with.

That came after. Boy did it ever......

Since Tuesday night, I have been in misery...and nothing seems to help. Not cold packs, my tens unit...not even Ibuprofen. Today...the pain has lessened for the most part, but my right collarbone is really tender and aches. I can only imagine how tomorrow will be after therapy this afternoon.

I am sure that you are wondering how it came to this, and I too wondered...and asked. My therapist says that there are a variety of reasons that this could/would have happened: poor posture (who me? LOL), age (yep--knew that was coming!), lack of exercise (which I hate, hate, hate to do...and with a disaster for a spine, it has made it harder for me TO do)...and the list goes on. (My body has had a lot of abuse over the years...heavy lugging, lifting, etc. as not only a farm girl, but as a wife and mother.  I have Cervical Spine disease, Scoliosis, and a herniated disc in my neck. This is one of the reasons too that I am disabled...the other being because of having PTSD.)

I am not looking for pity or sympathy here...the fact is that I am aging and this goes hand-in-hand with it. I take it for what it is...and I will get through this, whatever the outcome will be. I see a specialist on May 9th...and will find out if I need to have either a CT scan done or an MRI to see what changes have taken place over the last 7-8 years since my last tests were done.

Anyways...thanks for letting me tell you my woes...


  1. Geez, Deb, that's AWFUL! I feel so bad for you! I hope you'll be helped soon so you'll start feeling better! I've had physical therapy several times after car accidents. Usually it helps, but I remember one time the therapy made it far, far worse. I didn't go back there! But your condition sounds like it's a matter of degenerating far too much for far too long, not being taken care of soon enough when something might have helped. I'm so sorry! Might be only surgery will do the trick! Bummer, girl! ((gentle hugs))


    1. Actually, this time wasn't so bad, as far as the next day. I am wearing my tens unit today as I have a couple of sore spots, but other than that I do feel a lot better this time.

      You have a point though...I did wait too long and now it's going to take a while to undo all the stiffness...but if it will eventually stop the constant pain...I'll do what I have to!


    2. Well, I'm sooooooo HAPPY to hear it IS helping then & you are feeling better! That is AWESOME!!! You have a good therapist then! Keep up the good work! Hopefully the therapy will be enough to get you back to feeling at least reasonably well!
      Cool beans!!!

    3. Thank you! It will...I just have to stick with it, you know?

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