Is the glass half empty or half full? For me it has always been half full until when I recently developed an appreciation of immobility and chronic pain on a level I believe even most medical professionals really do not relate to. Most of them haven’t experienced it and hence the disease called Fibromyalgia. Let me share a personal story.
Despite bilateral knee surgeries over ten years prior to starting Posture Dynamics in 1998, cancer surgery, hernia surgery and most recently heart ablation surgery, I have thought of myself as basically a healthy person. That was until I made a horrible mistake of seeing a doctor in the local Providence system, I thought was a physical medicine doctor (physiatrist). My fault, he is a family practitioner with a sports medicine specialty.
After some difficult and hurried work on my boat, I developed quite a disabling pain in my left posterior flank. I wanted to see a physical therapist. I was told to see this physical medicine doctor first, so I made an appointment. Long booking times and all that, I was basically well again by the time of my appointment but decided to keep the appointment because for years it seemed like I easily bruised or fractured my ribs. This had happened several times and had just happened again in the boat yard.
During the appointment, Dr. Brown determined two things. Looking at a recent chest x-ray, he concluded my ribcage looked “young”, and he observed along with my wife that my ribcage was not moving as it should when I was breathing deeply. Before I knew, and had the wits about me to ask what he was doing, I was on my back, with an arm across my chest, and the doctor on top of me muttering you’re not going to be happy with me.
In retrospect, I’m not even sure I heard it, but my wife says she did before he proceeded to crush (mobilize) my rib cage. He flipped my other arm across my chest at which time I told him - "You know I’m going to resist that because that really hurt", and he did it again. It all happened in less than 60 seconds, and when I sat up and took a deep breath, both Dr. Brown and my wife concluded my upper ribs were moving more symmetrically.
Chronic pain often start with an incident that may even have happened years ago and been forgotten. The next day, May 15, 2020, was to be the first day of paying the price for not stopping to ask a few questions which would have led me to refusing the treatment. I was also recommended to order a foam roller to help mobilize my spine which he also decided was not moving correctly. I ordered it the same day.
In the interest of time, I’ll jump toward the conclusion which is simply don’t let anyone treat you with brute force. That's what accidents are. Split second brute force. Today is June 15. I am still immobilized and in serious pain. I did use the foam roller once about two weeks ago. I rolled my back on it twice, but I’m afraid I was already so damaged, it only made the situation worse.
I don’t think these doctors have any understanding of a chronic pain level of 3-4 while being still, and 7-9 when trying to move even a little. After just a few days of that, you are ready for God to take you into his Kingdom. Fortunately, after a few days I gained a little more mobility and the pain level dropped to a 5. Until experienced, chronic pain are just words. And, it seems if the pain continues, you will ultimately be diagnosed with fibromyalgia because unless you are lucky, your doctor runs out of possible explanations, interest, and patience.
I did go back to see Dr. Brown a second time, but just to explore if there was an explanation for what had happened to me. He had no clear answer, and suggested we get x-rays of my spine, maybe something was displaced. He suggested the pain could possibly be a pinched nerve. The imaging place is calling, but I’m not going. I have very carefully done a few mobility exercises and suffer with no neurological deficits like numbness or tingling, and I have absolutely no desire to end this story with faux back surgery. At 72 I should still have a few good years ahead.
Fortunately for me, I have lots of books on myofascial (muscle) pain, and I work with pain specialists daily. I have concluded that I am still in a chain of muscular compensation patterns. The insane part of this is compensation begets compensation, so you end up, like I am currently experiencing, with roving pain. Severe and moderate pain that moves from one place to the other, flusters doctors and in my case brought about a sense of helplessness and anger, mostly directed at myself for not having prevented the incident. Neither of which help recovery.
I’m going to the books to find my solutions, and I think I have. There are many books on self-help for muscle pain. See list below. Also referenced below is a website where you can find a Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist near you who have studied muscle and joint pain in depth. Muscles can indeed pull joints into painful positions, but most of the pain stems from the muscles themselves from overuse, in my case, caused by splinting – one muscle group trying to protect (immobilize) another. Amazingly, I thought I was going to have hell added to damnation by also developing diverticulitis which leads to severe lower abdominal pain. Fortunately, that burning sensation that is often the precursor to diverticulitis can also be a referred trigger point pain from back muscles. Trigger point pain patterns can be very bewildering and depressing.
I’m still unable to do any physical work and in pain and I’ll write another post when I get this under control and am back to normal. I understand this takes time and patience, but my glass is still half full, even though this experience temporarily brought me to empty and hopeless because chronic pain is like no other experience. Surprise bonus. As I just read this to my wife, I teared up. Praise God, my anger was just absolved. Emotions often stand in the way, so let the final stage of healing begin!
20 years ago most medical professionals would say "Trigger what??" Today you will not only find more medical professionals but the number of books have increased as well. There are many more than listed below.
A best seller on the subject of trigger point pain available on Amazon: The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief by Clair Davies
New Harbinger has several self help workbooks available on Amazon: Trigger Point Therapy for Low Back Pain by Mary Biancalana and Sharon Sauer
This medical textbook is "The clinical reference" on Myofascial Pain: Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction - The Trigger Point Manual by Travell and Simons
To find a Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapist: https://www.myofascialtherapy.org
About the Author:
Bjorn Svae is the owner of GRD BioTech, Inc. dba Posture Dynamics founded in 1998. Bjorn holds degrees in electrical engineering and business and has enjoyed a career in design, marketing and sales of diagnostic medical equipment as well as business consulting and entrepreneurship. In 1997, nine years after having undergone bilateral fractured meniscus knee surgery, he met Dr Rothbart and was fitted with an early edition of the forerunner to the ProKinetics Insoles. The pain which had reappeared in the left knee immediately went away and has never come back. Like the old Victor Kiam Remington ad:"I liked it so much I bought the company".