As a physical therapist, I use my hands a lot. I had loved that about my job, but in early 2017, this was becoming a problem. One of my shoulders started bothering me. At first it was just a quick, sharp pain, which while unpleasant, I could work through. But then, over the next few days, this progressed into a constant ache that just seemed to encompass the entire joint. It was sharp and achy. Not good. Anti-inflammatories didn’t help much, but I took them anyway just to try to get through my work day. I got some PT for it too, but that benefit was only temporary. It hurt too much to do any kind of exercise.
The only thing I could do to help the pain was if I just totally rested my arm it on my lap, or a table for awhile, like 20 minutes. This is actually harder to do than you might think. I needed there to be NO muscle tension in my arm with it totally supported for minutes on end before something would start calming down.
So that’s what I did, I did everything I could with my right arm only: driving, dressing (that almost brought me to tears), and treating my patients. I would hook my left thumb on a belt loop to support it rather than let it hang. It was clumsy, but I was just trying to ride this thing out in hopes that it got better. After about three weeks, after doing double duty with my good arm, the same thing started happening there too. My dominant arm. I was in trouble.
The MRI revealed that both labrums in my shoulder were torn pretty well. I have no idea how. I can only assume my years of competitive swimming had something to do with it, but this was all new to me. Now, suddenly, I’m on the phone scheduling surgery dates and realizing that I’m going to be out of work for over half a year while these things heal, if I was lucky. My wife and I had just bought our first house, and we also just learned that we had a baby on the way. There was a lot of living that I needed to do!
But, I had to wait. I had to be the patient now. Also I needed to be patient. There was so much around the house I wanted to do, things I wanted to do to get ready for the baby, and I was grounded; In the sling, in the recliner downstairs, while the world kept going by. And my poor wife…between some first trimester difficulty for her, and a bum-shouldered husband, let’s just say there were a few weeks where nothing around the house got done!
I wouldn’t advise getting surgery if you don’t have to, but I have to look at all the positives that came from the experience. I had never had orthopedic surgery before, and it really helped me empathize better with what my patients were going through. It was also just a great learning experience. I had to learn a good truth about life, which is that with every adversity, there is an opportunity somewhere. For me, I was unable to work, but I was able to see friends and family more, shadow doctors that I never would’ve had the time to visit, and study my craft as a manual therapist much more than before. Don’t get me wrong, there were some days I was feeling sorry for myself. But I learned that those days were lost and not lived. The days I made the most of are the ones I’m the most proud of.
There are many benefits from Craniosacral Therapy (CST), which is a gentle, non-invasive form of Osteopathic Manual Therapy that I use every day in my practice. It’s great for people who find conventional approaches (such as medications, exercises or...