Injured? Chronic Pain? Try These Tips!

 Bouldering is hard on the body. I need to keep my muscles healthy, but sometimes rest isn't enough.

Bouldering is hard on the body. I need to keep my muscles healthy, but sometimes rest isn't enough.

 I was a 13 year old student walking to my science class when I suddenly collapsed. I couldn’t walk. My friends had to help carry me to my seat in class. After a while, the pain subsided and I was able to shuffle to my next class. I went to several doctors who could not offer any solutions, apart from major surgery. My mom finally took me to a chiropractor who adjusted my back and eased my pain. He told me I suffered from hip subluxation, which is partial dislocation of the hip out of the socket. Movement as simple as walking or bending over to pick something up could cause my hip to pop out of the joint. For the rest of my life, particularly if I continued sports, I would need to see a chiropractor in order to walk.

Now as a climber, I have a large care team that is comprised of three chiropractors, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and a physical therapist. Even during a packed residency schedule, I try to see two each week to help keep my body in good shape. I’m going to share with you my favorite tips that I have picked up over the years!

Cupping

Learn how to cup!

  For me, tight forearms manifest as finger pain. I cup my forearms regularly to keep my finger tendons loose!

For me, tight forearms manifest as finger pain. I cup my forearms regularly to keep my finger tendons loose!

Releasing tight neck muscles

This is great because you can do this on yourself anywhere! I do it at work, before going to sleep, or even on the airplane. The cups are small and can fit in your purse or backpack.  Cupping works by increasing blood flow to the area of suction. There are several different types of cups including glass ones that actually use fire to create the suction! I use silicone cups that I purchased from Amazon for 15 bucks and a menthol lotion to create the suction. They come in a variety of sizes. Smaller ones are used for smaller muscles like your neck and arms and larger ones come in handy for your glutes and thighs. I regularly cup my forearms, triceps, neck, and shoulder, and usually feel instant relief. Medical knowledge or knowledge of trigger points (sensitive spots in the muscle) increases the effectiveness of cupping, but isn’t necessary for pain relief. The cups can be left on the skin for a few seconds to a few minutes. If left on for minutes, you will likely have lasting red circles like Michael Phelps did during the summer Olympics.  The lasting marks don’t bother me, so I leave mine on for at least 30 seconds

 

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

With these techniques, absolutely seek out someone who is licensed.  Poor knowledge of anatomy can lead to serious complications such as a pneumothorax (a collapsed lung), so definitely see a licensed professional.  Acupuncture and dry needling technically aren’t the same thing, but they both include inserting a needle into your muscle.  My chiropractor performs dry needling and as a physician, I am qualified to perform it as well. A good knowledge of anatomy and trigger points is needed to know where to insert the needles. For the first eight months of receiving dry needling, I had rather extreme side effects due to the inflammation caused by the needles. I would feel as if I had the flu and would have to go directly to bed after a course of dry needling. But eventually my body got used to it and now I feel great after each treatment. Immediately afterwards, I have less pain and an improved range of motion. Don’t let this scare you off from trying dry needling! My body is strange (for example: I'm allergic to benadryl), and most people feel fine afterwards.

Helping my climbing partner with an achy shoulder.

He barely feels a thing!

Chiropractor Adjustment

I could not imagine my life without chiropractors! They can adjust almost anything. You name the joint, they can adjust it! Having finger pain? They can adjust your hand bones and your finger joints. Some chiropractors are gentle and others practically body slam you to the table. I see three different chiropractors because each one has their own style  I suggest you shop around and see what style works for you!

 

Prolotherapy

 This is me before I began regular prolotherapy, cupping and dry needling. Couldn't climb without tape and braces!

This is me before I began regular prolotherapy, cupping and dry needling. Couldn't climb without tape and braces!

I receive this therapy from one of my chiropractors. Prolotherapy has increased my quality of life ten-fold! I discovered this treatment when I tore my rotator cuff last year. Prolotherapy is an injection of benign liquids that stimulate self-healing by irritating the muscle. Prolotherapy is uncomfortable for the first 24 hours because there is liquid in places where liquid doesn’t belong. After that, you go back to normal and in a couple of weeks, you should feel improvement. This worked so well that I decided to try prolotherapy on my surgical scars which were causing chest pain. When stressed, my scars would contract and I would walk around work holding my chest as if I were having a heart attack. After one treatment, my chest pain was gone! After this, I was pretty much sold and decided to try prolotherapy on my hips, the biggest cause of pain in my life. I received injections all along my spine and hips and inguinal canal. My muscles were so tight and upset when receiving the prolotherapy that I would break out in a full on sweat from the pain. But a few minutes of pain in exchange for daily long term relief were worth it. I’ve been receiving treatment now for over a year and now the pain during injection is minimal. The treatment lasts about eight weeks for me and I get it done every 6-7 weeks. For the first time since the day I collapsed in middle school, I don’t live in daily pain from my hip. I can even jump and take some falls in the climbing gym.  If I drop something, I can pick it up and I can bend over to feed the cats. I wish I knew of this years ago, which is why I am sharing this with you. If you are living in chronic daily pain, this could possibly help you.

Contact me if you want help finding a professional near you or if you want to try cupping and aren't sure how to start. As a chronic pain sufferer, I want to help others live a pain life! If you have any tricks, please share them in the comments section!