Thursday, July 10, 2014

Myofascial Release and the Old Lady Hip

I recently wrote about how eventful my latest doctor's appointment had been.  You can read that post HERE.  One of my issues is what I call my "old lady hip."  My doctor had just moved my leg and immediately knew there was a problem.  I hurt it almost five years ago.  I wasn't an injury per se.  It just started feeling very sore. 

Most likely it coincided with me pole dancing, as it started just a couple of months after I started dancing.  I figured it was probably the pivoting barefoot on the floor that may have made me sore.  I now use dance paws.  Anyway, I went to a specialist years ago and they sent me for an MRI or whatever they do when they want to look at your tissue.  The idiot tech placed me in a way that left a good portion of my legs hanging off the tray.  Then he told me to hold my legs up and stay still.  For 25 minutes.  Shockingly, even with abs of steel, I shook a little and the MRI was unreadable.  The doctor didn't seem to think it was worth sending me for another one or digging further (other than offering pointless cortisone shots), so I just kind of learned to deal with the pain.

I was introduced to Keith Ortiz who does amazing bodywork.  You can read about him HERE.  He definitely helped relieve my pain and kept me walking.  There were certainly days when I thought I was donezo.  However, even when he used to offer a great discount to me, visits to Keith are expensive (worth every penny but still...if you don't have money, you don't have it).  So I wasn't visiting him as often as I should. 

Fast forward to now and my new primary care physician says that since the x-ray showed no arthritis in the hip, we needed to act quickly to make sure it didn't develop.  He says it is curable now, but won't be once arthritis sets in.  He tells me he can perform myofascial release on me.  He says it is veeeeeeeeeeery painful but will eventually cure me.  Oh, and I have to come to his office twice a week.  Well, since his co-pay is much lower than Keith's fee, his office is a mile away from me, and I can actually get my co-pay reimbursed through my health savings account, I kind of can't say no.  I mean, unless I want to let myself develop arthritis.  So, I say yes. 

What is myofascial release?  I will let the Mayo Clinic define it:

"Myofascial (mi-oh-FASH-al) release is a manual therapy technique often used in massage. The technique focuses on pain believed to arise from myofascial tissues — the tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles. Theoretically, myofascial pain differs from other types of pain because it originates in 'trigger points,' which are related to stiff, anchored areas within the myofascia. The pain that a trigger point causes is often difficult to localize, though.

During myofascial release therapy, the therapist locates myofascial areas that feel stiff and fixed instead of elastic and movable under light manual pressure. These areas, though not always near what feels like the source of pain, are thought to restrict muscle and joint movements, contributing to widespread muscle pain. The focused manual pressure and stretching used in myofascial release therapy loosen up restricted movement, leading indirectly to reduced pain."

What does that mean in real life?  Think of an area of your body where you feel pain.  Doesn't have to be right this second.  Maybe you injured your knee once, or broke your arm once.  You remember how much it hurt, though, right?  Now think of pinching that area as hard as you can.  On and off for about 20 minutes.  That's myofascial release. 

Stretching alone isn't enough...
At my first appointment this week, my doctor warned me again that it would be painful.  I told him I had experienced it through my bodyworker so I knew what to expect.  And I dealt with the pain through loud yoga breathing and occasional exclamations about how this "wasn't my favorite!"  The whole time, in my head, I'm begging for it to stop.  I felt like I dealt with it pretty well though.  And at the end of the appointment, my doctor remarked that most of his patients scream during the procedure.  The receptionist said the same thing on my way out.  It was kinda funny.  I go back for Round 2 tomorrow.  Yay?
I have always wondered if all the scar tissue from my lower body lift has contributed to this issue.  The left side of my hip is "thicker" than the right side so I feel like it makes sense that there might be more scar tissue and those little scar fingers have been reaching out and grabbing at my hip socket.  I actually spoke to someone about this issue recently and have an upcoming blog about scar tissue and muscles.  But it makes sense to me. 

Anyway, I am willing to put up with the pain if it fixes the long term problem.  Since seeing Keith, I have certainly been in less pain, but have never been able to go to him often enough to be truly pain-free.  The stretches my doctor gave me to do every night alone have taken my pain down a couple of notches already.  Has anyone ever tried myofascial release?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!

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