Posted by: lsadler | August 18, 2016

I was feeling great and then I overdid it…

This is a comment I often hear from my clients as they are recovering from an injury. They were making such great progress and it’s hard to hold back when your pain levels drop. I know it’s frustrating and I’ve been there myself. The good news is that when you take a step back like this, the recovery time is shorter and usually the pain levels aren’t nearly as bad as the acute stage from where you started. The main thing to remember is to throw an ice pack on it and rest. Make an appointment with your massage therapist or PT to make sure you stay on top of it. Know that your body will heal, it’s the mental part that can be the most challenging during a setback.

Posted by: lsadler | June 24, 2014

Neck/Shoulder Pain Wrap Up

In the end, PT got me to about 80% and I managed to finish the job on my own. Ultimately, I  found that I had a pinched nerve in my arm, once I located the trigger point I was able to release it. With my neck, I found that the muscles in the front of my neck were putting pressure on the spine and responsible for the pain. I spent some time massaging out those muscles and then decompressing the cervical spine with mild palpatation. I’ve had a couple of minor set backs with my neck since then, but I have found that if I massage it before it gets out of control, I can manage it. My arm has been great since I fixed the pinched nerve. I’m happy to say, I’m doing great and back to work and riding full time.🙂



Posted by: lsadler | January 30, 2014

My First Setback

I titled this entry my “first” setback because, unfortunately, when you are in the process of healing up from an injury, you usually have at least one setback. It’s completely normal, but also frustrating. Luckily, setbacks are usually not as intense as the acute phase and recovery usually happens quickly. Here’s my story:

After working for a week pain free, I felt like I was ready to get back to riding. I had my first ride last Sunday and I felt great all day. Then later in the evening I was feeling pain in my neck where my trap meets my neck. I also felt nerve pain running straight down the side of my upper arm. The next day I had plans to trail ride, when I woke up that morning I was sore, but felt like I could push through. I had to grab my saddle out of the trunk of my car and not thinking twice, I held it in my left arm, while I used my right to close my trunk. In the past that would be no big deal, but it put a lot of pressure on my neck and I’m not back to full strength yet.

After riding and then seeing a couple of clients, I was really hurting. I took a prescription motrin, (I call them big motrin) and it seemed to help a lot. I woke up Tuesday feeling very sore. At PT I had some pain during my exercises, so I had to back off. I was hurting a lot after PT, so I took a big motrin again and iced. The next morning it occurred to me that I should massage out my shoulder with my little tennis ball. I hadn’t worked on myself in a long time. I also worked on the front of my neck on a muscle called the Scalene. It was extremely sore. In fact, I was full of knots and very sore throughout my shoulder.

After my massage, my pain levels dropped and I had no problem working. I have now learned to tune into when I feel a little pain in my trap/neck area and I have found that if I stretch it immediately, it stops the spasm.

I rode again this morning and I made sure not to hold my saddle in my left arm without support and I massaged out my shoulder after my ride. I was not nearly as sore as I was Wednesday morning. This experience is an example of how muscle memory can develop from an injury. My traps and scalenes are in the bad habit of spasming to protect my neck even when there is no threat. If I move just the wrong way I can feel it start up. Luckily massage and stretching can reprogram the muscle to behave properly, but it takes time and takes some awareness on my part. This is the challenge I’ll be facing going forward as I continue test my ability to get back to riding full time. Luckily this setback was short lived and was easily managed once I remembered to massage out my trigger points.🙂

Posted by: lsadler | January 22, 2014

Doctor’s Visit

The doctor pulled up the MRI on the computer for me to see. It looks like the curve in my neck has resolved a bit. He was not concerned about any of things the report said. He told me that the amount of bulging in my discs in my neck were normal for my age and since they aren’t hitting any nerves he felt that the issue was not my neck at all. He was completely focused on my shoulder. He thinks I have an impingement or a tear in my rotator cuff. He prescribed an MRI of my shoulder and muscle relaxers for my neck. I asked for more PT and he gave me another 6 weeks. He told me that if I have a tear, he can treat it with a cortisone injection. He felt that since I didn’t need any surgery I wasn’t in bad shape and I just need to manage my pain. The good news is that he said I can go back to riding normally as long as it doesn’t hurt.

I spoke with my physical therapist after my doctor visit and we decided to go ahead and start treatment of the shoulder and continue with treating my thoracic spine since we think it may be part of the issue. I am going to hold off on the MRI and wait to see if the PT helps.

At the moment my pain levels seem to have stabilized. I do have trouble with muscle spasms in my neck when I work, so I have to continue to take it easy and I’m keeping a very light schedule this week.

Posted by: lsadler | January 20, 2014

MRI Results

Before I explain my results, I think it will make more sense if I explain a little anatomy. The spine in our neck is called the cervical spine (C-spine) and it’s made up of 7 vertebrae. The cervical spine connects to the thoracic spine (T-spine) where the neck meets the shoulders. We have 12 thoracic vertebrae.

My MRI showed that I have a bulging disc between C-4/5 at 1mm and between C-5/6 at 2mm. It also showed that I have spondylosis at T-1 and a Schmorl’s node between T-2/3. Spondylosis is another way of saying arthritis. The bulging discs are not terrible, most of my pain refers out from T-1. I only get pain in my arm when I move the “wrong” way. Sometimes I have pain running through my shoulder and even thought it’s bearable, it’s consistent. When I work on the Trigger Point next to T-1, I usually get relief.

Since my last post, my pain levels have significantly reduced. The pain running through my trap is finally gone and I have been able to start work again. I discussed the results of my MRI with my PT and she said that the bulging discs are a direct result of the pressure from my spine being out of alignment (loss of curve). The arthritis is more of a problem, but she thinks we can slow down the degeneration once we re-align my neck and strengthen it. She cleared me to ride horses only at the walk for the next 4-6 weeks. She also said I should not look up and extend my neck until it’s back to normal. I see the Physicians Assistant tomorrow to discuss the MRI and get his opinion of the situation.

Posted by: lsadler | January 13, 2014

Pain Update From My Weekend

After taking Motrin all weekend and wearing the patch, I am feeling less pain and the spasm in my left trap seems to be calming down. The bad news is that the patch made me nauseous. By Sunday, I was very dizzy and my heart rate was a little high at rest. There is new tingling in my cheek. It feels really weird. I stopped the patch and laid off the Motrin, so far so good today. I was able to schedule my MRI for Tuesday. The daunting task of canceling clients continues…and I still can’t even think about getting on a horse.😦

Posted by: lsadler | January 13, 2014

Now I’m The Patient

When I created this blog I intended to write only about topics related to my work and to specific injuries. Now I’ve become the patient so I’m going to be writing about my experiences as I recover.

My new injury wasn’t from an accident, it came on slowly over the past year and it recently rendered me unable to work. I’m suffering from neck and shoulder pain. The pain runs up and down my neck and through my left trap into my upper arm just below my deltoid. My theory as to why this came on is that it’s a combination of some of my falls from horseback riding, computer use (bad posture) and age. The initial x-ray showed some disc degeneration, bone spurs and I’ve lost the curve in my neck.

Last year I was able to ice and massage it out and after a couple days I would recover. I’ve already started Physical Therapy, but last week after my treatment my pain levels went to 10 plus! Now, ice isn’t doing the job and over the counter motrin wasn’t taking the edge off. I tried heat and massage, but even with all these tricks that have always worked in the past, I have a continuous pain where my neck meets my trap and it remains in spasm. I finally called the doctor to discuss pain management. I had tried an icy/hot patch and it reduced the pain a little, so when I went to the doctor, I asked if they could prescribe a pain patch. The doctor recommended steriods, but I was not comfortable taking them, so we agreed on prescription strength motrin. Based on my symptoms, he thinks I may have a herniated disc and prescribed an MRI.

Posted by: lsadler | March 13, 2013

Neck Pain and the Computer

I have been seeing more and more clients who complain of neck pain. They also have nerve pain associated with it that runs down their arm and pain near their shoulder blade. The reason for this is that the vertebrae in their neck has compressed and pinches the nerves (it’s also possible that a disc is bulging, but regardless, my approach is the same). Most of my clients who suffer from this type of neck pain work at the computer most of the day and they have what I call ‘computer posture’. This posture is basically rounded shoulders and the chin jutting forward. This shortens the pectoral muscles, muscles in the chest and stresses the muscles across the back and also compresses the cervical spine, (one or more vertebrae in the neck). To properly treat this injury, I use a combination of spine mobilization, a technique I learned from a physical therapist where I palpate each individual vertebrae in the neck and then I massage out the Trigger Points in the neck (front and back), the arm and upper back, etc. I also tell my clients to ice their neck and any area where they have pain. The mobilization opens up the vertebrae creating some space in order to stop the nerve from being pinched.  When my clients’ pain is reduced or resolved, their posture must be corrected so they don’t re-injure themselves. I recommend a book called “Pain Free at the PC”, by Egoscue to help them correct their ‘computer posture’.

Posted by: lsadler | July 25, 2010

Acute Sports Injury-How Massage Therapy Can Help You

Normally I like to use examples based on my clients’ issues to illustrate my point, but sometimes I think it’s a good thing when you can use your own experience as an example. It gives me an opportunity to practice on myself, improve my techniques AND truly know what it feels like to be treated for pain or injury.

My greatest love is horseback riding. I am a fairly experienced rider, I love to trail ride and I also compete in the english hunter/jumper discipline. Here’s my story: I fell off my friends’ horse last Tuesday. I fell on the side of my left leg after she spooked on the trail. I was far from the barn and I had to walk over a mile to find her after my fall. I’m very  lucky I was able to walk, I wasn’t so lucky the last time I fell off her. As I walked along the trail after the fall, I could feel the pain in my leg, but since I was walking I knew it wasn’t broken. Luckily, it wasn’t excruciating and I was able to ride back to my barn once I caught my horse. I have a giant bruise the size of a saucer and swelling the size of a baseball on the side of my leg. I also have cuts as well as the bruise all in the same area.

Here is how I’ve been treating this injury:

Day 1, ice 3x and rest (I’d also recommend taking arnica, I was out of it at the time)

Day 2, ice 3x and I put a little Traumeel on the bruise (Traumeel is a creme and has some arnica in it)

Day 3, my hamstring is and has been extremely sore since my fall. It’s too acute to massage at the site of injury and it’s also contraidicated to massage a swollen or deeply bruised area. I was able to massage lightly above and below the injury which helped to reduce the intensity of the muscle spasm. This flushed toxins and gave me some relief. I also had some Trigger Points in my calf and shin, hip and glute which I massaged out. I was having some discomfort in those areas, but the main pain is coming from my hamstring. After releasing the Trigger Points, I had reduced my pain by more than half! I also continued to ice the bruise and lastly, I soaked in epsom salts. My bruise went from jet black to dark red after the soak.

Day 4 to now -the swelling is going down, but every so slowly. I am continuing to massage my hip, glute and hamstring once a day, my calf is fine, the Trigger Points never came back after the first massage. I am still only working the hamstring above and below the site of the injury. This eliminates the referred pain and I can move about comfortably and I can actually forget about it!

I will continue with more updates as I go through this healing process.

Posted by: lsadler | July 1, 2010

Tips to prevent Tendonitis of the wrist/elbow

When I was a graphic artist, I developed tendonitis in my right arm. I’m right-handed so that made life very difficult. I will go into more detail on how to cure tendonitis in another post, but for now, here are some things I did to help myself. First of all, I couldn’t stop using the computer so I switched to my left hand to use the mouse. This was awkward at first, but eventually I got pretty good at it. Later, I bought a Wacom tablet and that was the best way to mouse I’ve found. The tablet uses a pen to move the mouse, so you don’t hold your hand over it the way you do other mice, including the ball mouse, which is very popular for this issue. I also started buying more of my vegetables already chopped. I found that Trader Joe’s tends to carry a lot of pre-chopped veggies and salad. I also bought a knife sharpener. You put a lot less pressure on your arms when you keep your knives sharp. I took MSM, a supplement that reduces inflamation. A friend of mine that was in cooking school developed a really bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome and she suggested MSM to me. It’s a naturally occurring substance already found in the body, so it’s not a drug and has no side effects. I read a great book about MSM, written by the doctor who discovered it’s many uses.

Older Posts »