After a month of walking

Because I’m not allowed to swim I’ve been trying to walk more in an attempt to get fitter and stronger before my operation. It hasn’t been easy but when I’m walking it usually feels fairly good, much better than when I first started walking anyway. I can now walk 45mins a few times a week, my ankle is pretty much all fixed (finally) and I can feel muscles growing in my legs! Unfortunately my hip is feeling worse, especially the bursitis and side of my hip. I’ve been icing after my walks but some nights it feels like I’ve been stabbed! If surgery wasn’t so close, I don’t think I’d push through this but I’m on the home stretch now. My physiotherapist has advised me to keep walking until one week before surgery and then rest up.  

 

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Turmeric tonic

I’m allergic to anti-inflammatories and aspirin which is annoying given my current health concerns. Several times I’ve been told turmeric is a good natural anti-inflammatory. I’ve taken it as tablets and eaten it in my curries; but to be honest I’ve not noticed much of a difference.

But I don’t give up easily, so I thought I’d try juicing it.

In the juicer: 2-3 lemons, a big chunk of ginger and some fresh turmeric. I probably used 7-8 bits. This makes a little bottle of concentrate which I’ve been drinking with hot water. It tastes quite nice, a bit earthy which is offset by the lemon and ginger.

I think I’ll take this for 2-3 weeks and then make a call on if it’s making a difference.

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Ligamentous Laxity

The other day when finding out that I’d torn a ligament in my shoulder I asked my physiotherapist “What is with my joints?” “Why do I keep getting hurt so easily?”.  She said its because my ligaments are too lax.  I’ve had a few treatment providers tell me over the years that my ligaments are lax and/or my joints are very loose and I’ve never really understood what that meant until recently.

The biggest and most important piece of information I’ve learnt from talking to my physiotherapist is that to avoid injury I MUST exercise and stay strong.  Usually the ligaments hold the bones together and create stability in the joint.  Because my ligaments are lax, my muscles have to do the work for them. The reason why I’ve had so many issues this year is because I’ve been unable to exercise due to the hip pain, my rehabilitation programme ended and I wasn’t able to keep pushing through the pain by myself.  So I’ve lost a lot of strength and now my body is starting to fall apart!

I didn’t realise I had this problem until this year and it has been a big “ah ha” moment for me.  I understand now that yoga came too easily to me, I was doing things in my first month of yoga that take some people years of practice to achieve (I didn’t know this until speaking to my teacher earlier this year).  I understand that why the list of injuries from childhood to adulthood so very long; I’ve injured ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and wrists.  I also understand that my feet aren’t flat, the ligaments just don’t hold them up when I’m standing up.

But having lax ligaments has got to have some advantages:

  • I’ve got great range of movement (ROM) in my hip where most people with FAI and associated joint deterioration struggle with loosing ROM and get very stiff.  Not me.  I’ve lost some ROM, but I’d say its probably still better than the average.
  • I’ve not had to do any stretching as part of my physiotherapy and rehabilitation programme.
  • When I sprain my ankles the bone can hit the ground and my ligaments won’t tear.
  • Yoga can be easy.  This is a double edged advantage though as stretching is not good for people with lax ligaments (with the exception of hamstrings apparently).  When I return to the mat I will have to be very careful to practice strength over flexibility.  I’ll also have to learn how to use muscles better and to stop before my end range.
  • I was very good at the limbo when I was a kid.  And I can win that drinking game where you pick up a coin with your mouth without putting your hands/knees on the floor.
  • Sitting on the floor is very comfortable. And I can lie on my tummy (on the floor) and watch TV easily.

OK… I know I’m clutching at straws, it is not really an ideal situation but it is very manageable.  My plan is to get through this hip surgery and then focus on the return to exercise.  I’ll go back to yoga however it will be a practice that focuses on strength over flexibility.  I’ll also return to the gym, hopefully get back into boxing and spin classes.

Here are some photos of things I don’t think I’ll be doing again in any hurry:

 

And the ankle!

As you may have gathered, my ankle has been bothering me for quite some time. I sprained it a year ago and because I didn’t trust my pain levels, I choose to ignore it.  Eventually I saw the physio and had a few treatments, then figured it was good enough and my focus went back to the hip rehabilitation.   Then in March this year I made the silly mistake of taking pain killers and dancing on one leg (I really wanted to enjoy a concert) and I managed to sprain my ankle again! I’ve pretty much been seeing my physio on a weekly basis for my ankle ever since.

The sprain in March has created havoc with my hip because usually I bear most of my weight on this right leg.  So when the ankle hurt as much as the hip, I was caught in a cycle of trying to look after an injury on both legs. I’d stand on my left leg to give my ankle a break and cause my hip to be painful; then swap legs to give the hip a rest and flare up the ankle!  I was unable to use my standing desk and this caused a significant knock on effect to the hip.  In April I needed to take some time out to rest both injuries and I ended up on crutches for a couple of months as walking got too difficult.

I had ultrasounds and x-rays on my ankle which showed a lot of swelling but no major damage (phew). With taping and physiotherapy it  started to get better, then I managed to sprain it again while on crutches! Now that takes talent. After a couple more mild sprains the physio said my ankle joint was too unstable and I got confined to a brace for 10-12 weeks.  I was not impressed at the time, but its made a huge difference. With regular physiotherapy and weeks in the brace, my ankle has been getting better and better.  I’ve managed to get off my crutches and am able to use my standing desk again.

Today the physio said my heel raises are the best she’s ever seen me do and it looks like I only need 1-2 more treatments. I’m so pleased and relieved.  🙂  I need to get some new work shoes as the brace stretched my old ones and the risk of another sprain is too high, but once I’ve got new shoes I can ditch the brace too.  Hooray. One joint down, two to go!

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Some answers on my shoulder and a plan forward

Yes I know this is a blog about my hip, but my shoulder obviously wants some time in the spotlight too.  I can’t remember when I did it, but a few months ago I sprained my shoulder getting out of the bath and it has been causing a fair bit of grief ever since.  I’ve been working with the physio on the issue and after a period of rest (and some cool taping) the shoulder got better for a period of time, then it got worse again.  Its been crunching/clicking painfully and is obviously a little unstable.   I had one round of  x-rays and ultrasound images taken early on which didn’t show much.  So after several weeks of treatment, some serious taping (like a rugby player she said), my physio was just about to write off my ongoing pain as “central sensitisation” and chuck it in the chronic pain bucket. This caused me some concern and to my surprise, she decided to order repeat images.

To my joy I found out today that I tore a ligament in my shoulder and this is why there are issues with the AC joint.  I’ve got evidence of subluxion (joint instability) and bursitis in my shoulder. For some reason it was missed in the first lot of images.  Why am I happy about this?  Well, its good to have a reason for my pain as my hip surgery is so soon.  Had it been central sensitisation causing unexplained pain in my shoulder, I’d be very concerned about having the hip surgery because the biggest risk (for me) is around having a bad pain reaction.  This risk is caused by my history of suspected CRPS and is being very well managed by the hospital, but it is still something I’m a little worried about. This is why I’m very relieved to have good reason for having ongoing pain in my shoulder.

The bad news…  I really need my shoulder to work properly for the upcoming hip surgery as I’ll be non-weightbearing and on crutches for a period of time. So the plan forward is ice x4 per day, continuation of strengthening and I’m still banned from swimming.  If there isn’t much improvement in the next week or two we will do a cortisone shot to get the pain and inflammation down before I have my hip surgery.  Usually a course of NSAIDs would be prescribed before cortisone is considered, however I’m allergic to them.

Photo: Very cool shoulder strapping by my physio, several people thought I’d actually got a tattoo!

 

Pushing through pain for the greater good

I saw my physio today and we discussed the physio program I’m doing prior to surgery. I mentioned my increased enthusiasm to do my physio exercises has been overshadowed by the consequential pain. We agreed that given surgery is only 1-2months away then it’s a case of pushing through the pain for the greater good. I’m totally happy with this as I’d like to be as fit/strong as possible going into surgery. It’s amazing how my mindset is changing as I get closer to the big day. I’ve been doing physio exercises on and off for almost 5years, no wonder my enthusiasm drops off at times.

To the amusement of my friend, who said I’m like a child, I’ve setup a physio book where I track progress of my exercises with stickers. I know it seems silly, but it really works for me. It’s also a useful tool to discuss progress with physios, and I make little notes to prompt my memory of things to mention at appointments.

I’ll be using this book for the weeks leading up to surgery and following it. I don’t care if it’s a little childish.

Qu: What strategies do you have ensure you keep doing your physiotherapy exercises?

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