Monday, July 16, 2007

Tone Deaf

Have I mentioned I love my physical therapist? Well, okay... maybe love is a strong word, given the fact I've wanted to do some rather serious bodily damage to him once or twice while he's been treating past injuries. If you've ever had a deep tissue muscle massage, you'll know what I'm talking about.

But today, it was all about the love, people.

I've been dealing with a very stubborn pain in my shin for about three weeks now. I'm nothing if not tough when it comes to bearing through a bit of pain while running. (Actually, "stubborn" might be a more apt description, but I like tough better.) In any case, the longer it'd gone on without responding thoroughly to self-treatment, the more I'd become seriously concerned it was more than just a stubborn shin pain. Instead of "shin splint", I found myself frantically googling "stress fracture" on a daily basis in an attempt to exhaust the internet's resources on the subject.

As of last weekend, I'd become convinced I'd fallen victim to the subject of my incessant googling. I skipped my scheduled 12 mile long run to give my leg a break, still desperately hopeful the emergency intervention technique of forced rest would be the answer. And truth be known, I've been dealing with some other health issues the last several weeks and although my training wasn't necessarily suffering because of it, cutting myself a break from running for a little while was probably a long overdue decision.

I always try to work things out myself before pestering my physical therapist just because I know he already thinks I'm certifiably nuts and there's no reason really to prove his point over and over. Ultimately, though, I realized it was time he heard from me again, so I shot off an email to ask if there were a simple way of determining if the pain in my shin was indeed a stress fracture. I'd already had it x-rayed by my boss (a chiropractor), but as expected, it didn't show anything out of normal.

Sure enough, my PT emailed back and told me to come in and I'd have my answer within just one or two minutes. Using what he called "the poor man's test", he struck a tuning fork on a table, then held it on various points against the bone on my leg.

"That hurt?" he asked when he was done.

"Ummm... no. Is it supposed to?", my eyebrows raised, a little suspicious my physical therapist had turned into some kind of voodoo doctor since the last time I saw him.

"You don't have a stress fracture", he says. "Maybe a bad shin splint and some swelling in your achilles, but I'm 99% sure it's not a stress fracture. Go home and ice it, rest it and massage it and you'll be fine."

He explained how the tuning fork test works. In layman terms (which really are the only terms I understand anything), the vibrations of the fork will cause the pieces of fractured bone to rattle, which in turn causes pain. No pain, no stress fracture. VoilĂ !

So, what do you think? A bouquet of fresh summer flowers? A box of Godiva chocolates? Perhaps a handsome paper weight for his desk?

I just love this guy.


Chad said...

oh yeah - you got a good doc there. I like the technique.

Too bad more people don't look for smart ways to figure out these things.

robison52 said...

I've never visited a physical therapist, at least not yet, therefore I've never heard nor seen the tuning fork theory, which sounds plausible to me. I love massages, but unfortunately can't afford them...I did buy "The Stick" and have managed to do my own little massages on places that are stubbornly sore.

Allen said...

Hey, that is good news! You can skip the flowers and chocolates, though. Just pay your bill and he'll be happy :)

Rosie said...

Shin splints are the WORST. Glad it's not a stress fracture, that could put a serious indent in your training. I have an unofficial PT that I absolutely love. It's so great when they'll answer emails like that too.

AddictedToEndorphins said...

Glad to hear that you don't have a stress fracture!!!

Izzy said...

Hey girl, remember me your Top of Utah training partner from Pl.Grove. So glad your training is doing so well and glad no stress fx. I had the same thing happen to me in my foot, was worried that it was a fx the MD also used a tuning fork to diagnose, crazy. Have any desire to come down to provo for the half on the 11th. It would be a good training run. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I'm jealous of your PT. :) Very happy on the diagnosis, continued success. TG

Laurel said...

"That voodoo that you do..."

All that and he can tune your piano too! Glad to hear there is no stress fracture.

Jim said...

That is so cool. Whoever thought a tuning fork could be a sophisticated piece of medical equipment. Ya think he could use a salad spoon to get rid of my bunions?