Thursday, February 7, 2013

No More Rug Sweeping: Graston Therapy for Shoulder

I really thought that when I had my shoulder surgery done in 2011 that I was done with the problem.  I thought that after 16 years of pain and problems, I'd finally resolved the issue.  It was a stupid notion, really.  My surgeon had told me this fix may be temporary because, after all, I had the shoulder of a 65 year old man. 

For a while it was okay.  It was never 100%.  But I could sleep without constant pain, I could pick up Isla without fear of it giving away.  I could run without too much pain.  It was okay. So I just figured, "good as it's gonna get" and ignored the little things. 

Then, all of a sudden this summer, a year after surgery, it wasn't okay anymore.

I re-injured it and lymphedema started complicating matters.  It hurt all of the time on my run.  Because I push my stroller with my "bad arm" it made things worse.  After my run, my arm would swell.  I'd wake up in terrible pain or with a numb hand.  So I bought a lymphedema sleeve and it seemed to help.  The swelling lessened and the numbness subsided.  For a little bit.

Then, this fall, I couldn't play the games in gym with my students because I couldn't even HOLD the basketball.  At my double half marathon, I could literally feel my shoulder joint grinding, the raw, searing pain.  I finally realized that I could no longer sweep it under the rug.

After consulting with my chiropractor who has supported me through this whole shoulder issue,  we agreed to start with a noninvasive treatment. 

He started Graston and ART therapy.  Now, noninvasive doesn't mean nonpainful.  Graston hurts.  There's no sugar coating that.  When a metal tool is being rubbed into an already sore joint, you're not going to be all smiles and giggles.  Many runners have used Graston to treat issues with their achilles and IT Bands, with great success.  But the saying no pain no gain is true in this case.

I cried during many treatments.  I cried even harder when I noticed that my shoulder was no longer flesh colored, but rather black with bruises.  But it was working.  Thanks to the Graston and ART, the numbness and constant swollen feeling subsided.  I regained some mobility.  The constant ache went away.  I'm really pleased with the results of the Graston therapy, and would definitely try that again on any area of issue.

While Graston helped alleviate some symptoms, it didn't cure the problem.  My Rotator Cuff is torn and it will require another surgery.  Unfortunately, I'm too busy to take a time out for surgery right now.  I've got marathons and half-marathons galore in the next few months.  I'll just have to rug sweep a little longer....!