Friday, August 31, 2012

Exercising Away the Cane

I've been wah wah wah-ing about my trochanteric bursitis for awhile. I'll bet y'all are getting tired of it.

I know that I am.

So I'm glad to report that things have improved considerably; to the point that I can leave my bratty Candy-the-cane home more often. She isn't happy about that. As a matter of fact, she's sulking as she's hanging from a kitchen counter this morning. "You don't love me!"

You're right. I don't, Candy. Deal with it.

I think that the reason that I can gleefully let the unused Candy sulk to her tubular heart's content is that I have been seeing a physical therapist routinely. She's prescribed several exercises for me to practice daily, and -- get this -- I'm actually DOING them.

Yes. Gasp.

I guess there's all sorts of motivations for exercise, and I seem to have found one that keeps me true to the routine: to avoid using a cane.

I asked my PT about my cane adherence rules: "Give me the criteria for using this thing. If I walk around in pain without the cane, am I hurting anything?"

She told me that she would approve of my not using a cane only if I could walk without a limp.

"How about walking with pain?"

Could you do that without limping?


She considered my answer for a few minutes, then with arms crossed over her chest and narrowed eyes, she said: Here's the deal: If you walk without your cane and with a limp, you're making everything more inflamed and worse. Doing that will only put your recovery further away for you. If you walk without your cane and have some pain but -- seriously, now, no bluffing -- you can maintain your normal gait, then you're ok. Doing these exercises on a regular basis will increase the muscle strength in your core and near your hip joint, which will, in turn, decrease the inflammation in that bursa.


So, I have been doing several seriously strange exercises twice a day, as ordered. These two in particular are weirdos:

The hard part of these exercises is that benign little phrase before each set of instructions "With neutral spine..."

Translated, this actually means: "While maintaining the correct arch in your lower back and keeping your pelvis completely level with your abdominal muscles contracted and doing the Kegel maneuver while breathing normally...Oh, and then by the way, start doing the exercise as pictured."

Good grief in a bucket. I can't walk and chew gum at the same time, so this is a real challenge for me. Can YOU suck in your gut and do the Kegel exercises and breathe? All at once? Yikes.

My PT has this nifty little instrument which looks like a mini-air mattress attached to a pressure gauge. She slipped it under the small of my back as I was learning these exercises, and if I altered the arch of my back as I was working, the gauge would reflect that.

So there was no cheating. Drat.

I'm sure that I haven't got this whole thing perfected, but I am seeing significant improvement, so I must be doing something right.

Take THAT, Candy. Before long, you'll be living in a closet somewhere, dusty and forgotten. I hope.


ShEiLa said...

These exercises could probably help me too. I just had a consult with a pain management specialist that plans to inject my bursa... send me to PT. Also I am having some pretty serious neck, shoulder and upper back pain so an MRI has been ordered.

The mini air mattress with a gauge sounds interesting.

I hope all of this hard work you are doing leaves Candy at home in a closet... even though she won't be happy about it at all.


Anita Rowe Stafford said...

Good going, Julia . . . 1 and 2 and breathe! I have found my "silly" PT exercises to be quite beneficial too! As much as Candy might help when needed, I'd rather see her hanging (sorry Candy!)

Unknown said...

I'm what the world counts as old. (untrue) I can do exercise #2 but will have to practice a while for #1. though I can lift my back a bit.

I can walk on carpet without "George" but I find I put my arm on my back, which lets me know it is there.

Still I will persist and perhaps one day "Candy" and "George can share a closet.