Remember when Alice falls down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland? My journey has been much like Alice except I’m not falling; I’m jumping…and I keep jumping into one rabbit hole after another in search of finding the root cause of my pain. The goal being to get back to training so I can get back to racing.
A little History
Back in July 2015 I pulled something in my right hip reaching for a nutrition bar 3 months before Cabo Ironman. From July – October I had tried chiropractic, PT, acupuncture and massage. I have blogged about those trials and tribulations in past post.
This new Journey…The “Alice Journey” started in October of 2015 when I started working with my PT to resolve my hip pain and agreed to start from the ground up. Since July of 2015 I have found the following to be true:
- I have said this over and over again. Pain is on the outside of my right hip.
- I can’t touch the pain.
- I can’t sleep on my right side.
- Sometimes I get burning sensation in my right glute
- Other times I get a toothache-like throbbing at the top of my IT band where it connects to my pelvis
- And sometimes I feel it pulsate on the outside of my thigh.
- It hurts on the top side of my hip when I stretch the right side. It feels like the muscles are super tight along the right oblique.
- Sitting is bad and standing is good
- Hip flexor stretches help to dull the pain but it never really goes away.
- I do not have low back pain
- I want to race!
Rabbit Hole #1 – Instability – Physical Therapy
After x-rays concluded nothing was broken the Sports Med wanted me to do physical therapy before doing any further tests. I had failed the stability and mobility tests like a champ in the office so he was certain that my pain was from instability. I met with the PT twice a week for an hour each time and I would leave with specific exercises. It was like a reset. I had so many imbalances and my muscles weren’t firing on time and some muscles weren’t firing at all. It took three weeks to get my glute muscles to perk up and that took the PT walking beside me poking my butt as I lunged across the gym. I did PT from October to January and had completely transformed how I moved. I went from struggling to roll over to jumping on and off of a boso ball one-legged and bear crawling with a flat back for 20 ft….fast. I have done PT in the past but this was different. I think there is something to be said when a PT works with their patient holistically. I wasn’t just a number. I didn’t get pumped in and out in a 20 minutes session. I needed more. She worked with me for an entire hour each session and we started out with two sessions a week and then progressed to one session a week. Each session built upon the last session. I could feel myself getting stronger each week.
But….I still had hip pain and still struggled to make any gains on the bike.
Rabbit Hole #2 – Inflamed Bursa – Cortisone Injection
In January I went back to the Sports Med where he agreed to do an MRI after I passed all the mobility and functional tests. I then met with an Orthopedic Dr who reviewed my MRI and felt I had inflammation in the bursa and I needed to do a cortisone injection. This rabbit hole probably never would have happened had I not been impatient with the Sports Med Dr. In goes the injection with no results.
Rabbit Hole #3 – Glute Tendon Tear – Prolotherapy
Back to the Sports Med where he ultrasounds my hip and glutes to find that my glute medius tendon has micro tears and lots of scar tissue. We agree to try prolothearpy. Prolotherapy is when sugar water is injected into the affected area to create inflammation which stimulates healing in the area. After two sessions of prolo with zero relief I moved on in search of other options.
Rabbit Hole #4 – Body Alignment – Rolfing
I found a rolfer that was willing to take on the challenge. Rolfing (also referred as structural integration) is different from deep-tissue massage, in that practitioners are trained to create overall ease and balance throughout the entire structure, rather than focusing on areas presenting tension. As a structure becomes more organized, chronic strain patterns are alleviated, and pain and stress decreases. You can learn more about the benefits of rolfing here. My goal was to realign my body and eliminate the hip pain. My first session she noticed my body pulling to the left of my body so she wasn’t surprised that my right hip was hurting. I have completed all 10 sessions and have found relief in all parts of my body…except my hip. I plan to continue to incorporate rolfing as part of my training program when I am healed and back on a consistent training program.
Rabbit Hole #5 – SI Joint – PRP Therapy
After all the work with my sports med doctor and failed attempts with prolotherapy I was guided to try Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy by my super fabulous PT and with support from the sports med doctor. After an assessment it was determined that much of my pain was coming from my SI joint. I was setup with and a cortisone injection to the SI joint as a test to see if the pain would go away. Now I didn’t jump off the table with zero pain. It took about a week for me to notice I could sleep on my right side with no pain. I was pain free and it felt so so good. I was back to biking and running (reserved training of course). Then about 5 weeks after the injection the pain came back. This means the SI is likely the root cause. I am scheduled for the PRP injection next Tuesday. I am a bit nervous and afraid of the procedure but really hoping this is the cure to what has plagued me over this past year. You can learn more about PRP here
Rabbit Hole #6 – Spinal Adjustment – Chiropractic
While waiting for the cortisone injection results I was referred from the PRP specialist to a chiropractor. I’d never go back to a chiropractor due to past experiences but the specialist urged me to do so. I’ve known my L4 and L5 were slightly compressed for well over 10 years and it really hasn’t been a problem. However before diving deeper into PRP I went down this rabbit hole just to make sure this wasn’t the culprit. The adjustments did help relieve the feeling of pressure through my spine a bit but it was hard to feel if this was working because my pain was still masked by the cortisone injection. Once that wore off it was very clear this wasn’t going to be the fix.
Rabbit Hole #7 – Body Alignment – Strain Counterstrain Therapy
This is an interesting one and difficult to explain how it works. The practitioner identifies sensory organs located on your head. Tenderness found on your head refers to a specific part on your body. The practitioner then goes to that part of your body finds the tender spot and works it by shortening the muscle and connective tissue resetting the dysfunctional neuromuscular and the tissue returns to a normal state that translated to pain relief and improved mobility. They then go back to the location on your head and the tenderness is gone. Crazy right?!?! All I can say is that I can get off the table and have less pain and more mobility…but it doesn’t last long before it returns to its inflamed state.
Well, we will see if the PRP is the golden ticket. I pray it helps because I don’t know what else I can do; I’m grasping for a solution….what other rabbit hole can I possibly go down after this?