Accountability & Yoga (Part III: Physical Therapy)

imageHands over eyes, massaging the sleep away, “This is total f—ing balls” I say to myself sitting on the PT table.

 That’s Finchy slang for, “this sucks so much I am already tired of talking about how much this sucks.” I made my bed. This website is a thing with my name attached. It is forcing me to be accountable for my current condition.

Moments earlier I filled out a survey in the waiting room about my back pain. I realize things have improved much since the yoga began. I usually make a habit of strategically leaving my mat right next to my bed on the hardwood. I step on it when I get into bed and it is the first thing my bare feet hit on the way out of bed. A quick routine and I am on my way to sleep/work. I have not needed the Meloxicam (NSAID) or Cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxer) in a handful of days.

I meet my PT, Jacqui (PT, DPT). I make a conscious decision that I am not going to be a horrendous patient like many of the nurses I have had the misfortune of treating in the hospital. I hate snark, sarcasm and projection of anxiety. I make a point to keep my answers short, shut up and listen to Jacqui as we go through a stretching assessment.

It is apparent that my mild to moderate reverse s-shaped thoracic scoliosis has me off balance and limiting my range of motion primarily in my left hip and hamstring. The pain, when I have it, refers to the medial to lateral right side of my thoracic back and bi-lateral lumbar back, just above my hips. Even with the yoga, everything feels tight today.

Having a strong core/abdomen is important to support your spine and prevent injuries. I cannot count how many nurses I have seen hurt their backs bending, lifting, boosting, twisting with a weak core. As Jacqui and I go through some planks, back bridges and Swiss-ball exercises it is also apparent I am horrifically out of shape. I am having a tough time keeping my breathing in check and my brow free sweat beads. The exercises are not complex; they are not any tougher than the beginner yoga poses, but they are engaging muscles that are not used to be worked at 9 am.

Apparently I am David Bowman. Sure, bill that dude’s insurance please.

After the above (pictured) exercises, the real fun began; e-stim ya’ll! E-stim, short for Electrical Stimulation (Not to be confused with Erotic Electrical Stimulation. Yes, it is a thing apparently). E-stim may also incorporate ultrasound or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).

The e-stim involves four electrodes with heated ultrasound gel applied to different areas of my lower thoracic and lumbar back. Jacqui also put a large heated compress over the electrodes for added warmth to loosen up my muscles. Then we turned the e-stim on sending a gentle tingling sensation vibrating deep into the muscle tissues. The cool interactive thing about e-stim is you can increase the stimulation as your body accommodates and the signals fade in and out on the different pads.

 via ComboCare
An e-stim unit on a much sexier model.

The benefit of this treatment modality is three-fold: first, the electricity massages and strengthens muscle fibers. Second, it increases circulation promoting healing. Third, it interferes with nerve pathways. As complex as our nervous system is, it can only send and receive one message at a time. Whereas previously my muscles were sending pain signals to my brain, now my brain is receiving a tingling sensation instead of the old pain message.

The benefit is temporary, but a welcome relief and it greatly speeds up recovery time. This treatment can also used on wounds to help them heal faster with the same aforementioned properties and benefits.

A+ for Jacqui. I have some exercises to do. My follow up is after work on Thursday. Edit: Co-pay $30

To be continued


2 thoughts on “Accountability & Yoga (Part III: Physical Therapy)

  1. Pingback: Accountability & Yoga (Part II: The Doctors Office) | There Is Another Way To Live

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