Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Muscle taping for instability

My first experience with taping a joint to keep it in place has been interesting thus far. My left shoulder, the one I dislocated two years ago, has been bothering me for a couple of months and got progressively worse over the holidays. For the last several days, I've been taking my Aleve/Tramadol mix around the clock to manage the pain. It feels like my arm wants to fall out of the shoulder socket if I let it hang.

So, I went in to PT today and had to tell him I couldn't do my usual workout. We've gotten into a good routine over the last year and I am to the point where I am in less pain and feel stronger/more stable now than before working with Mat. He is the first PT who a) hasn't hurt me during sessions and b) hasn't given up when I have flares that take me out of commission on occasion. I am very grateful to have been directed to this particularly good PT who understands that hypermobility needs stability and slow strengthening, no stretching and no major weights right away.

Anyway, so Mat is good when I have something out of whack because we spend the whole session dealing with getting inflammation/pain under control. Today is the first time at PT that my shoulder has been so painful I was close to tears. He did an assessment, which was not fun but gave him an idea of what muscle/area needed the most attention. He said something about the 5th rotator cuff muscle? The gleno-somethingorother attachment point. I laid down on the massage/treatment table for ultrasound. He noted that I have a sulcus, which is when the arm (humerus) separates a bit from under the glenoid (bone above the shoulder) creating a bit of a groove between. This sulcus can be an indication of instability.

After the exam and ultrasound, Mat got down to taping my shoulder. He didn't use "kinesiotape" but some heavy duty flesh-colored tape. Of course he had to put a less sticky layer underneath to protect my skin but we'll see what happens when I try to take the tape off. (I didn't have good fortune when I had my heart monitor for 24 hours and had to take the circle things (look like nipples!) off. Ouch and nasty skin afterwards. I had a round patch of raw skin just center of where a v-neck shirt shows the chest!) I had to hold my arm in such a way that I could push my shoulder into place while he put the tape on - the point being that the tape would hold my joint together when I let gravity pull on my arm. It worked! I felt relief right away and this suprised me most when I laid down on the table again for an ice and "stim" session. I know my shoulder can separate when I am sleeping but this taping method showed me how much my shoulder moves around not just when I am upright.

The PT assistant put more nipples and leads on points around my shoulder and new tape. These connected to a machine that sends a current to the leads. They slowly turn the power up until you are uncomfortable (which can feel like bees stinging) and then back off until you are comfortable with the tingling sensation. I guess the stim is supposed to help calm the muscles? Then he packed my shoulder in ice while I was laying there. I could have fallen asleep.

I've had pain off and on since the session earlier today but the taping has helped overall. Mat says I can leave the tape on up to 24 hours. I am accompanying hubby on a business luncheon tomorrow in Arizona so I had to think about what I am wearing so I can keep my tape on! I wish I had known about this technique sooner, but I guess that issue of "sooner" is going to have it's own post sometime since my whole life with EDS has been about "if only sooner..."

Can you be a tape junkie? I think I could tape up so many body parts right now! Everything feels like it wants to go in different directions these days. At least hubby feels like crap right now too, so I don't feel too bad for being a bit grumpy in pain. But truly, I am amazed that something as simple as tape can make a difference! I'm hooked.

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