I have always been a bit curious about non-traditional medicine but frankly haven’t ever needed it. Over the past four weeks however, I have been suffering with a sore and swollen left knee, which has got me looking for a get well plan.
When I get an injury I tend to use fuzzy logic derived from my cave man ancestors i.e. I first ignore it, then try running it out… then I bike on it and even more ingenious, I run a road race to really test it…and to no one’s surprise, it doesn’t get better and in fact has gotten a bit worse.
So I’m thinking it is time to get serious …and reluctantly make an appointment with a conventional Orthopedist… AKA …knee specialist. Up until the moment I make that appointment things are bad but as soon as I hang up the problem seems to get better. So, of course I cancel…. then it comes back. To avoid appearing like a total tool job, I figure 7 days is a practical re-injury period,,,
I have no problem with an Orthopedist but that suggest something is seriously wrong which leads to X-rays, MRI’s, Meds, Physical Therapy (PT) and possibly surgery if it is an Meniscus or ACL injury. Logically I understand that all those are the standard options if I want to get back to 100% but this injury just doesn’t feel that serious… even though it has been pestering me for over 4 weeks…ya that’s right a month already and I am just now feeling like it is time to get serious…..and mainly because it is impacting my training now which produces stress.
It’s crazy but my usual common sense has been replaced with “man logic” which has me Employing Feelings Over Logic…. which is a classic psycho/biological struggle with guys. For decades we have been accused of thinking more with our knobs than our brains.
I remember hearing Robin Williams joke about it saying: “God gave men both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.”
I know it is time to do something other than stretching to get on the mend… so either I go conventional medicine and get myself to the Ortho or to try something else…. My wife recommended I try an alternative approach… Why not see if my Chiropractor can help?
I’ll ask if they work on knees..
Chiropractor’s it seems are mainly associated with spinal adjustments so why consider this route for a knee? We called the office to see if he worked on knees and his response was very interesting:
“Ya, tell him to come over and see me sometime…I work all the joints.. ” Coincidentally, I remember hearing that same invitation while patrolling the red light district overseas as a Military Policeman..
Dr. P seems to have cared for just about all our friends and neighbors. I was induced further when my wife noted that his pedigree included being a big road biker who specializes in sports injuries. I thought to myself what the hell…he’s not going to cut, XRay or drug me so what’s the harm?
Engaging the Alternative…
After an overall examination of my knee and a review of the circumstances that lead up to the injury my journey into the Alternative world of medicine began. His diagnosis was knee effusion or swelling of the knee around the meniscus … He surmised that the outer meniscus sustained a squish type injury …like a hitting a piece of liver with a hammer.
The treatment ….Knee Hickeys
If you watched the Rio Olympics you may have witnessed Michael Phelps sporting what looked like red/blue polka dots on his back and shoulders. I remember thinking at the time that Phelps had gone “nutso” in his attempt to recapture Olympic glory. His back and shoulders were covered with purple suck marks a result of an ancient Chinese Cupping treatment. I wasn’t quite sure what the theory was behind this treatment but if it is good enough for a pro like Phelps then it is good enough for this nut-bag too.
Treatment #1 – Cupping – Suction Cups
Cupping has been around for thousands of years, but when Phelps brought cupping into the mainstream the world took notice and it peaked my curiosity. The marks result when blood is pulled up to the surface during cupping. Here I am now having this therapy applied to my knee and thinking Oh sh%$… maybe this is too far out for me! This is where the feelings process goes to hell in a hand basket and logic wants to kick back in and I begin asking questions.
Question: Hey Doc…so what is happen right now?
Answer: These cups are creating suction on the skin over the painful area. It is used to promote healthy, oxygenated blood flow to an area of the body that is inflamed, tight, or painful. The skin is gently drawn upwards by creating a vacuum with the cup. The cup(s) stay in place for 5-20 minutes. Cupping is used to treat scarring, muscular-skeletal disorders, spinal conditions, and connective tissue concerns. It decreases swelling, reduces inflammation, and relieves tight, painful muscles. It also pulls toxins from the tissues of the body and is mildly painless.
My thoughts here were…If I survived prom night at Hickey High… I can get through this…
Treatment #2 – EMS – Muscle Stimulation
After the cupping we moved to electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), or muscle stimulation, is a chiropractic therapy typically applied to someone who has a lot of pain or spasm in the area of injury or complaint. The approach for me was to stimulate the muscle in the knee area in conjunction with the increased blood flow resulting from cupping. E-Stim as it is called reportedly stimulates muscle contractions to control pain, strengthen muscle, and reduce spasms and inflammation. It reminded me of the time my brother had me test a 9V radio battery by ticking my tongue between the connection points. But when Dr.P cranked up the charge …it was like he attached jumper cables to a car battery sending my knee muscles to spasm city…
Additional Home Care Recommendations – After the initial appointment my post treatment care plan called for the following:
- Stretching 30 minutes before and after any exercise
- Spin (low watts higher cadence 85 – 90 RPM) on my bike to thoroughly warm up the knees before any running
- Ice 3x a day
- Drink Black Cherry Juice for knee joint health
Result – I’ve had three office visits to date and I am making progress…
- Pain – knee pain and stiffness is down considerably
- Training – Back on training plan albeit a modified rehab focused plan
- Adjustments- I asked Dr. P to throw in an “out of whack back crack” in for added measure.. OMG…I heard more cracks than a dominatrices whip back there….
Conclusion – There may be something to this Alternative medicine thing. I plan to follow through to learn if it solves my knee issue. As I think through the plan of action I believe the quality of being patient with myself is what I need .. My past annoyance with the slow process of healing has been a struggle for me, but as they say “time heals all wounds”…
As far as Alternative Medicine…I’d say ..If you find yourself down on your knee…try a little suction and stimulation it might help you feel better also …