I am not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV or in the movies. However, I am becoming quite knowledgeable in techniques that can be used in the treatment of spine and muscle issues and accompanying pain. I don’t recall signing a release stating I would be willing to be a guinea pig to these treatments in order to help educate my readers, but apparently a higher power has that plan for me.
Recently, I got to experience the Graston Technique. Graston Technique is defined as “a trademarked therapeutic method for diagnosing and treating disorders of the skeletal muscles and related connective tissue. The method employs a collection of six stainless steel tools of particular shape and size, which are used by practitioners to rub patients’ muscles in order to detect and resolve adhesions in the muscles and tendons. Practitioners must be licensed by the parent corporation in order to use the Graston Technique trademark or the patented instruments. Several examples of Graston treatment have been used in contact sports where scars and contusions are common.”
The best way I can describe it, from my experience, is that it involves a pressured scraping motion over a specific area of skin in a back and forth repetition. Dr. Craig put a few drops of a scented oil on the area before he began, and also told me to let him know if it got too painful. The first area he addressed was between my neck and shoulder on the right side, where I’ve been experiencing the aftermaths of the dislocated shoulder. I sensed that he started out with just a little pressure and continued to apply more pressure while moving the instrument back and forth. It got painful, and I know I made a couple of ‘cringy‘ faces along the way, but I was determined I was going to prove I was not the wimp he thought I was through the cupping sessions, and I didn’t make a sound the entire time. It might have lasted three minutes. He then also did the same treatment just above my elbow, where I’d been experiencing some jabbing pains. I got through that as well, though I mentioned that it was more painful than the one on my shoulder (less fat for absorption, probably?). But, at the end of the treatment, I wasn’t in tears or even close to being so. So I called it a success!
The next two days, I know that the area around my neck and shoulder was very sensitive to touch, but there was no bruising of any kind. By day five, I didn’t feel any sensitivity in the area there and had experienced none at the elbow area. After what I’d suffered through with multiple cupping sessions, I now claimed it a major success!
And a week later, when I went back for my appointment, I could report that I had had absolutely zero pain in my shoulder/neck area, other than the topical sensitivity issues right after treatment. This was a huge breakthrough! Furthermore, what pain issues I still had I was able to pinpoint and describe. There is an area in my upper arm, centered between my shoulder and my elbow, that feels like it contains a used, dry sponge. If you’re at all familiar, you know that it’s nearly impossible to manipulate or stretch a used, dry sponge. And that’s exactly how it feels. When I try to do my exercises or overextend my use of that arm, it feels like when it’s time for those muscles to respond accordingly, they just don’t! And it’s painful there when I try. Only occasionally anymore, and only for a brief amount of time, do I get the stabbing, radiating pain and it’s always when I don’t take my time reaching for something. But I’m using my arm more frequently again for normal routines, and ignoring the pain when necessary to accomplish a personal hygiene task. At my last visit, when Dr. Craig put me through the mobility tests, he says the mobility is increasing – that I’m moving more before reaching the pain level at which I’m supposed to stop. It doesn’t feel like there has been a change to me – to be honest, I think it’s more that my pain level tolerance is increasing. But hey, something’s happening!
I’m still frustrated that it seems like there is a long road in front of me yet. I’m starting to convince myself that I may have to learn to live with this limitation for the rest of my life. But then again, who knows what other tricks Dr. Craig has up his sleeve???