a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Bodily Function

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bodily Function

SUMMARY: Me knee hurt. Grunt. Me hip hurt. Grunt. Me go doctor musculoskeletal.

Another agility blogger's post got me pondering the function of certain of my bodily parts.

The knee has been deteriorating again. Could it have anything to do with failing to keep up the exercises with which I had made great progress on strengthening my quads? Nah, I'm sure it's mere coincidence. Have been having trouble even getting up stairs the last couple of weeks.

My short-term solution? Ignore it, feed it drugs, keep doing agility, curse and fume and grunt every time I stand up, and hope it gets better.

OK, common sense finally prevailed and this week I've started those physical therapy exercises again, AND icing it at every opportunity. Although it hurts a bit just doing quad sets and leg lifts, Lo! already today I can feel a difference. How odd.

Two weeks ago I woke up with my opposite hip in pain. Could very well be from the recent increase in adjusting my movements to try to avoid hurting my knee. Not so much an ache as feeling that it was out of position and pinching something. Felt like it needed to be yanked and torqued. Hard to do to oneself. So I ignored it, fed it drugs, kept doing agility, cursed and fumed, and hoped it would get better. (Since this has been an unsuccessful strategy in the past, I figured it's worth another shot.) It actually did get a bit better over a week, then a week ago I could barely walk in the morning again.

So I made an emergency call to the chiropractor recommended by my housemate/renter. I haven't been to a chiro in years. Last time was one visit when my hip was so bad suddenly that I could barely walk (sound familiar?) and after one painful and uncomfortable visit, pop! it was better. I didn't like the treatment but I liked the result. And before that, a different one for a while for a wrist problem. Might have helped, might not have.

Unlike many of my athletic compatriots, I don't go in for regular appointments to get "adjusted". If I could do it once a year like I do for a regular physical checkup, maybe I would, but it always seemed to be "you need at least 6 visits to get reassembled properly." And without anything specific, I just haven't seen the point.

But in this case, I couldn't see going to my regular doc or even an orthopedist and expecting them to yank and torque anything, ever. Anyway, the guy fit me in to his schedule. In his office, I, who have been living in my body for a rather long time, fumbled around trying to explain where I thought it hurts, and meanwhile he put his thumb against a spot in my lower back and said "here?" and Yowp! it sure was. We had a long discussion, he took xrays, and he sent me home with instructions to ice it and to come back Monday after he'd had a chance to look at the x-rays.

Felt much better the next day. And all he did was take x-rays and poke my back once with his thumb. What a genius! But it's not perfect, still; I could tell when I started my quad sets and leg lifts--that hip is still not in kilter. On Monday, we went over the x-rays. My L3 and L4 vertebrae are completely out of whack--the L4 out of line front to back, the L3 side to side. And I've got quite a bit of degenerative disk disease there. (Yes, known; that's the area pinpointed on MRI for my bout with horrific sciatica.)

He wanted to know what sort of accident or trauma I'd been through maybe 10-15 years ago. Same question the docs wanted to know with the sciatica disaster, and I still got nuthin'. So he says he's going to stay away from my lower back entirely and just deal with the hip.

Chiropractic yanking and jerking--and especially in the neck--have always frightened me a bit, and especially with the latest studies shown that chiro neck-cracking can be dangerous. I was very glad to discover that he doesn't touch anything that doesn't need touching specifically, and our long discussions reassured me about his knowledge and approach.

So he did some work on my hip Monday, and it was NOT painful or scary, and it has helped a bit. Still icing. Still going back today and probably at least a couple more times until it's happy again. He thinks I need at least 6 visits to get reassembled properly. At the moment, he's covered by my Kaiser insurance, but that apparently ends in early June, so I'd better experience a rapid cure or I won't be able to afford it anyway. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be icing it and resting it.

Icing, OK... but, man, I have *agility* to do! So it's off to class with Tika tonight, Boost tomorrow, training in the yard... I'm nothing if not foolishly in denial.


  1. If your back is out of whack it will effect your knee and if your knee is out of whack it will effect your hip. I've got vertebrae out of alignment as well which causes a goodly share of my knee problems. My athletic activities, esp. running, throw things out of whack so I need to get adjusted on a regular basis or I end up with overuse injuries. It could be that with all the increase in activity due to all the trials, camp, etc. you're back's getting thrown more out of whack and it effects everything else.

    And you do need to keep up with the knee exercises, the quad ones esp. though I do sympathize, I hate doing that kind of thing, so boring. It really does help though.

    One thing you can do on your own that might help your hip is to massage the adductor: http://www.fitstep.com/Advanced/Anatomy/Adductors.htm

    Start just above the knee on the inside of your leg and go up about 6" on an angle following your femur. You can try using a tennis ball to go even deeper than you can with your fingers. This can help loosen up the hip joint, or so says my old massage therapist.

  2. Ellen,
    Sorry the body is giving you fits. I did the chiropractor thing for 10 years in my 30s when I had chronic back problems(diminished disc space at L4 and L5 and spinal stenosis). It was frustrating because I seemed to have to go all the time and the relief I had always seemed transient.

    I decided to go to an orthopedic surgeon and see what he had to say. He sent me to a physical therapist for 6 months. It was tough at 1st to schedule my life around thrice weekly appointments, but it worked. That was in 1989. And knock on the proverbial wood, I have not had an acute incident since those 6 months of PT were over and admittedly, I have not been very good about continuing the fitness exercise.

    Hope you feel better soon.


  3. one other thing you can look into is anyone who does "slow energy" (I think that's the correct title) adjustments.

    "regular" chiropractic care is considered 'fast energy' (the pop and crackle). In 'slow energy' adjustments, the thought is that if you can get the muscle to relax, then the bones will slip back into place naturally.

    My osteopath does the 'slow energy' adjustments, and usually it only takes 1 maybe 2 adjustments and I'm fine (until I reinjure myself because I'm lousy about doing my strengthening exercises I'm supposed to do). It's not painful or scary (think of it more like accupressure while you're in a yoga like pose), and really, really, really has done wonders for both H. and myself.

    Hope you're doing better these days.


  4. Interesting. That sounds good, too. I'm doing OK but sure wish I had the recuperative ability of being 20 again--