Words can cut like a knife – leaving deep wounds and scars….

Leave a Comment

At this past weekend’s Scar Tissue Release, class we were fortunate to have a Registered Nurse volunteer as the demonstration client. She was incredibly generous with her feedback on what she was experiencing during the treatment and answered questions for the students. Two of her scars were from 18 & 20 year old C-sections, respectively. As she told us the stories of the surgeries, the conversation turned to the trauma, both physical and emotional that the events caused.

Apparently, as the surgeons were preparing to cut her open, they were busy discussing their golf game. The surgerical nurse stopped the banter and gave them a what for. Just think how you would feel at that moment, laying on a cold operating table, about to have your abdomen sliced open in order to bring your child into the world, being denied the experience of natural birth. As she told her story, you could see that even after 18 years, she was still very emotional about it.

Since she is a cardiac recovery nurse, I took the opportunity to emphasize a few points I had made during the class lecture. Specifically how “donor” sites, areas where skin or veins are removed in order to repair another injured area of the body, are ignored once they have healed. When I asked her opinion on this matter, she agreed whole heartedly that no further thought is given to these areas; however, she referred to these areas as the “harvest” site.

Everyone in the room took a breath. I knew what they were all thinking as I looked at each of them. The Nurse looked around puzzled, and I explained to her that I refer to the area as a “donor” site. She thought about it for a minute and shook her head. “I never even thought of that, but you are totally right…how horrible.”

How we–doctors, therapists, trainers, family and friends–refer to someone, something, or situation sets the intent. This, in turn, dictates how we regard, and therefore treat or not treat. Most often when we think of harvesting an organ, we think of cadavers. So of course an area that was used for “harvest” does not need further care or concern.

The next day, one of my current clients was among the volunteers for the student practice session. He had burns over 2/3rds of his body from a car fire. He is one of the most balanced and centered people I know. He shared two very important points with the group. First, that he never even considered that there was any kind of restriction, much less a need for therapy, on the areas where they took skin for grafts and that he was blown away by the resulting treatment’s effects all of the areas, grafted and donor. Second, while still recovering in the hospital, a representative of a burn group came by to help him understand and deal with how his life was about to change. “How everyone was going to stare at him and treat him differently…” You can imagine the rest of the conversation. He could not believe this person was there to help him and fortunately he choose not to listen to her doom-and-gloom speech.

I had another client, a massage therapist, who, while filling out her intake form, said to me in regard to the question asking her to list all surgeries, “Well, I did have a C-Section, but I do not really consider that a surgery.” Unbelievably, she was not the first woman to make this statement to me either.

As health care providers we must take care of how we phrase our words, and just as or more importantly, we need pay attention to and assist in altering how our clients refer to themselves. The first step on the road to healing is understanding and awareness.

Wholistic Toolbox: The Rotator Cuff and injuries related to it

Leave a Comment

Jenns 6 InjuriesThe shoulder is made up of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint: The ball, or head, of the upper arm bone fits into a shallow socket in the shoulder blade. The arm is kept in the shoulder socket by the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a network of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a covering around the head of the humerus. The rotator cuff attaches the humerus to the shoulder blade and helps to lift and rotate the arm.

There is a lubricating sac called a bursa between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of the shoulder (acromion). The bursa allows the rotator cuff tendons to glide freely when the move your arm. When the rotator cuff tendons are injured or damaged, this bursa can also become inflamed and painful.

When one or more of the rotator cuff tendons is torn, the tendon no longer fully attaches to the head of the humerus. Most tears occur in the supraspinatus muscle and tendon, but other parts of the rotator cuff may also be involved. In many cases, torn tendons begin by fraying. As the damage progresses, the tendon can completely tear, sometimes with lifting a heavy object. The fraying is caused by too much tension or an imbalance in the muscles which needs to be corrected.

Causes of a rotator cuff injury may include falling, lifting and repetitive arm activities — especially those done overhead, such as throwing a baseball or placing items on overhead shelves. Repetitive use and/or improper body mechanics can also lead to injury. As we age and become less active we tend to lose strength and tendons begin to breakdown. Rotator Cuff Injuires are most common in people over 40 years old. There is a very good chance that a rotator cuff injury provided it is not severely torn, can heal with self-care measures or exercise therapy

Rotator cuff injury signs and symptoms may include:

Pain and tenderness in the shoulder, especially when reaching overhead, reaching behind the back, lifting, pulling or sleeping on the affected side

Shoulder weakness

Loss of shoulder range of motion

Inclination to keep the shoulder inactive

The most common symptom is pain. It may occur when reaching up to comb hair, bending the arm back to put on a jacket or carry something heavy. Lying on the affected shoulder also can be painful. If a severe injury, such as a large tear, has occurred there can be continuous pain and muscle weakness.

So our primary goal is to release scar tissue that has formed following injury, restore ranges of motion and regain stability. Torn muscles, most commonly the supraspinatus (on the top of the shoulder blade), create general instability in the shoulder joint. Once range of motion has been restored, strength will be required to fully resolve the injury and prevent the problem from becoming chronic (i.e. frozen shoulder).

The manner in which the treatment is tailored depends on which muscle is torn. Make sure to determine the exact injury and tailor the treatment accordingly. If your client is very apprehensive about stretching the shoulder, begin with strength training (i.e, manual resistance and ROM movements) to establish confidence and stability. Once initial gains in stability have been attained you will have greater success doing the stretching protocols. This is especially true for dislocations.

Make sure to pay attention to the client’s reactions both emotional and physical. Work with the client and address their issues as you go.

So how would I work with A Rotator Cuff Injury:

I would use the following Stretching protocol

Shoulder Horizontal Abduction

Shoulder Extension

Shoulder Internal Rotation

Shoulder External Rotation

Shoulder Horizontal Adduction

Shoulder Abduction

Posterior Hand Clasp

I would then proceed to opening up the cervical area with another series of stretches. Once I have the client out of pain and confident that they can in fact use their shoulder I would introduce strengthening exercises. Starting with a light manual resistance and gradually moving up to weights. I am also massaging (in between stretches – gives the client a break and brings their awareness to the changes in the soft tissue) and treating trigger points as they arise. Finally I would review the client’s body mechanics and try to correct improper use that is contributing to the problem. The client would be given a protocol do follow at home with daily shoulder stretches and a shoulder-strengthening to help prevent a recurrence. Especially important is a program of strength exercise to promote balanced strength about the shoulder.

So now you know my approach I would love to hear yours! Please share how you view and treat the Rotator Cuff.