Musculoskeletal injuries can be a pain in the ass (Insert canned laughter here).
But in my experience when you are living with CFS/ME they can be the icing on the cake. The cake of anger and frustration.
I’ve recently been on an epic healing journey following what I thought was a minor shoulder injury in January 2011. Ten months and many, many practitioners later I thought it would be handy to share all that I’ve learned along the way.
Musculoskeletal Injuries = Any injury that occurs to a skeletal muscle, tendon, ligament, joint, or a blood vessel that services skeletal muscle and any related tissues.
We all get them at some point. But when your living with CFS/ME they sometimes happen alot more often and can take their sweet time in getting better. So how do we speed up the process?
I have come across five strategies for recovering from a musculoskeletal injury. I suggest you explore them in the order listed, which not only turns out to be cheapest to most expensive but is also the least invasive to the most invasive.
1. Natural Healing – This is where the magic really happens. Immediately following any traumatic injury it is best to get checked out by a doctor to make sure nothing is broken, torn, bent, twisted, popped, inflated, melted etc. You can get an X-ray or ultra sound at this point but the best strategy is simply to rest and let the body do its thing. It is remarkably well equipped to repair itself.
- Rest – Get the balance right between resting and keeping mobile. I have made the mistake of being to cautious in the past which can often lead to lengthy recovery times. Depending on the injury a bit of gentle use or stretching can be exactly what is needed.
- Self Massage – Never underestimate the power of your own healing hands. Get your fingers in there and ease the tension a few times a day. Get your friends, family and lovers involved. It’s a game everyone enjoys!
2. Body work – The next sensible port of call is to see a therapist who has experience with your type of injury. Below is a list of the different types of body workers I came across. Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses so take the time to investigate and be very clear about your expectations. Ask friends and family for recommendations, you’ll soon come across a ‘guru’ or two. But be warned! Many physical therapists will take you on as a patient and treat you for weeks and weeks before admitting they’re not exactly sure what’s going. That can be valuable time wasted so don’t be afraid to move on if their suggestions don’t impress you or if they are not getting exactly to the heart of the problem.
Personally I feel large quantities of massage is always a must let alone if you are recovering from an injury, so if you can afford it throw generous amounts of this into the mix.
- Massage – They will prod, proke and rub you to ease pain and release the tension.
- Exercise Therapy – Personal trainers can teach you a series of exercises that will empower you to do your own therapy. I waited too long before I consulted this option and it has helped alot in my case. After all the body is designed to be moved.
- Physio Therapy – These guys have a bunch of tricks up their sleeve and are useful in the early stages for getting a specific diagnosis.
- Manipulation & Re-adjustment – Chiropractors, Osteopaths and certain Remedial massage therapists can pop, crack and adjust you into place. Make sure it doesn’t increase the pain though, these folks can have a way of making you feel that they know exactly what is going on when sometimes they don’t. Though when this type of therapy is good, it can be very good.
- Acupuncture – This is time tested method of pain relief that can also get your vital energy flowing back to where it’s needed. I’ve found laser acupuncture to be particularly soothing for my shoulder and highly recommended this Chinese art form.
- Energy healing – Being showered in good vibes, divine love, quantum energy, pranic mist or whatever the therapist is offering at the time is a sure fire way to improve your healing process. I’ve found these forms of therapy most useful when I have been feeling a little defeated by my injury. Hope springs eternal my friends.
3. Injection therapies – These forms of therapy were new to me but seem to hold a lot of promise. In my opinion they are a much, much more preferable option than surgery. Doctors treating Baseball players in the US seem to be pioneering PRP and appear to be getting good results.
- Prolotherapy – This essentially involves injecting salt water into your injury to cause inflammation and stimulate a healing response in areas that typically don’t receive alot of blood flow. This is a little controversial and most doctors don’t even want to talk about this but the method has actually been around for quite a while and appears to be quite safe. Do your research and only commit to this if you have full confidence in an experienced practitioner.
- Platelet rich plasma injections (PRP) – This is a new technique that involves taking a small amount of your blood, spinning it around really fast in a centrifuge, isolating the platelets (ie the good bits) and injecting them into your injury site to hasten the healing process. It’s like a cooler and more futuristic version of prolotherapy. Again it can be hard to find someone offering PRP but if you do I reckon it’s worth trying. Especially if you feel surgery is the only option left. I had two injections in Melbourne in this clinic. They were very professional and I feel it was beneficial though it completely do the trick, however they say it takes up to 3 months for the full effect and my injections were only a month ago.
4. Surgery – This is really your last resort. In most cases it’s invasive, painful, takes a long time to recover from and most of all if you need a general anaesthetic then you will be ingesting a lot of additional toxins. But that being said sometimes it appears to be the only answer and can achieve some pretty amazing outcomes. It’s important to consider all the factors involved with surgery. Orthopaedic doctors are very quick to suggest going under the knife while natural therapists often believe it’s the work of the devil. I reckon the truth is somewhere in between. What ever you do take the time to very carefully research the probabilities of success, talk to people who have had the procedure you’re thinking of and be sure to give your body adequate time to do the healing first.
5. And finally the bonus option… Releasing suppressed emotions – For any sort of chronic pain or when there isn’t an obvious source of trauma it seems there is another often overlooked option. While the general medical community hasn’t wrapped its head around this one yet there is a growing body of Doctors, evidence and studies showing that the unconscious mind plays a key part in many aches and pains in the body. See the work of Dr John Sarno if this is a new concept for you. I will be posting more on this soon since I find his work so interesting.
- Emotional Freedom Technique – A very simple excercise you can learn on the internet in around 10 minutes. It’s about tapping on certain meridian points to release the energetic charge of pent up emotions.
- Journaling – Sit down in front of a blank page, whip out a pen, ask yourself ‘How do I feel?’. Then let it all out. So simple yet so powerful. Apparently also has the ability to get rid of those aches and pains.
But above all remember that for whatever reason people with CFS/ME seem to heal a little more slowly. So be patient with yourself and your injury and allow a lengthy recovery time before freaking out or jumping to any quick decisions. Your healing won’t happen over night. But it will happen.
Got some insight into healing from an injury?
Leave a comment below and share your tricks!
Where to Next?
Why not soothe those muscles with a little Yoga?
Or put your energies back into line with a session of Reiki?