Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Oh, oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?"

That's the line from "Uncle John's Band" from the Grateful Dead. And it's so true. Last I left off I landed in Spain for a 2 week cycling vacation. Next thing I know it's almost mid-June and racing season is here. I've been on a hectic schedule the last few weeks and hardly home on the weekends. Last month the Wingman and I rode the Gran Fondo in NY/NJ. Then I was off to Baltimore for a course in Dry Needling  to further enhance my PT skills (blog link courtesy of Sinead). It was 3 days of intense learning. You were in class for 10 hours and then spending a few hours at night in the hotel reading/studying/preparing for the next day. I can honestly say it has changed the way I look at pain in my patients.

I wasted no time in putting my new skills to work. First up was Sinead. She was having some neck motion restrictions and a headache. I used ~7 needles in her cervical spine and 2 up in the base of her occiput. I could certainly feel a change in her deep tissues after the treatment. She reported later a 90% reduction in her headache and neck pain/restrictions. Success story #1. My second volunteer was an aide that works with me. He has AC joint pain when he bench presses. He rated his pain to be about a 6 out of 10 when he benches. I placed a needle in each of his upper traps, and then went to work on his right shoulder. The magic spot was his infraspinatus/teres minor region (aka Ground Zero). When I asked what he was feeling, he said he could feel the pain in his AC joint being reproduced. Bingo!! It goes to show you that sometimes the pain you experience can come from a different source. After his session, I had him load up a bar to try to bench.  He loaded 155lbs up and said his pain felt like a 3 out of 10 now. He could bench press with a lot less pain. My last volunteer for the day was Jen. I went to town on her glutes and her lateral quad. She was feeling some ITB pain when she squatted, along with some other tightness in her hip area. Many times 'ITB' pain is actually trigger points in the lateral quad that refer pain down the side.

I hit a few trigger points in her glut that were tough to release. After I was done, she was pretty sore. I had her ride a stationary bike to work it out and hydrate to help flush things out. By the end of the next day, she could squat pain free and instead of her hip tightening 1 hour after running, it now took 3 hours. Progress.

Of course needling by itself is not the complete answer. The biomechanics of movement need to be assessed and corrected, muscles need to be strengthened and not in the traditional 'gym' sense. Pounding out bridges to strengthen glutes is fine, but if you can't use that strength in your activity, then you've wasted a lot of your time. Which leads me to this past weekend.

Sinead and I flew to Tampa for the APTA conference. They had an exhibit hall where we got to play with some fun "toys", but mostly we sat in on a 3 day lecture on Biomechanics of the hip, knee and ankle.  I definitely picked up a few interesting ideas and techniques that will help me better help my patients. I am also getting heavy into motion analysis and have been working with a new software application that allows me to quickly view video that I capture of a patient doing an exercise or running on a treadmill. I can analyze the movement and see where the breakdown occurs, show the patient, and then go to work fixing the dysfunction. This is the direction I ultimately want to head in my career.

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