Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Maybe this is not the kind of therapy I really need

Yup, I'm back in physical therapy for my bum shoulder. When I finished eight weeks of PT last April, the shoulder felt really good, and I assumed it would stay that way. Clearly, it didn't, so I headed back in for some more work. Except that it isn't--working, that is. So, my wonderful therapist is having me try some new techniques, which are making things a bit more...interesting than usual around here.

the TENS Unit
This odd little machine is supposed to relieve pain by doing, um, something to the receptors in my nerves, I think. I don't really know, and I also don't know if it works or not, since I just started using it yesterday. I do know, however, that the Wikipedia page contains a sarety tip that absolutely fascinates me: it says that one should not place the electrodes for the TENS unit transcerebrally, i.e., one on each temple. But it doesn't say why! WHY?!? What does it do??? I would love to ask my therapist, but I really like her and I respect her a lot, so I don't want her to think I'm an idiot. I'm not saying that I'm going to actually try placing the electrodes on my temples; but, you can't tell me something like that, and then think I'm not going to be way curious about what could happen.

the floor exercise
I've been doing home PT exercises for nine months now, but so far, they have all involved a ball or a stretchy band or pushing against a wall. My most recent exercise requires that I lie on the floor for 15 minutes at a time, with a rolled-up towel under my back, between the shoulder blades. This sounds easy enough, and it would be, except for one thing: in my house, human on the floor = playtime for dogs. The mutts think that having me lie down on the floor is their cue to sit on my head, stick chew bones in my ear, lick and paw at my face, and generally climb all over me like I'm a big ol' doggie jungle gym. Tonight, Sebastian must have decided that he needed to protect me from...something, because he spent the entire 15 minutes standing over my head. I took a photo:

In case you've ever wondered what the world looks like from the underside of a Cocker Spaniel's chin, there you go. I think the photo is kind of ominous-looking, but the only real danger was that Sebastian might drool on my forehead.

In two weeks, I should know if the new treatment plan is working, or if I'm headed back to the orthopedist for "the next step." Talk about ominous! I'm pretty sure I don't want to know what the next step is, unless it involves hot towels (there's another patient at the therapy office who is always lying down, covered in hot towels, when I go in for my session), or Lortab, my painkiller of choice. In the meantime, I guess I'll get used to having a dog sit on my head for a few minutes every night.


Lola said...

I googled a bit. I think the reason why you're not supposed to put the electrodes on your temple is because the strength of the charge is too high. There is another machine, similar to a tens that is used to treat migraines and mood imbalance that probably has a lesser level of electrical current.

I was curious too. lol! I had a tens unit used on me in PT for severe lower back pain, but my insurance wouldn't cover having a home unit. I hope yours gives you some pain relief.

absepa said...

lola: Thanks! If my insurance won't cover the unit, well, back it goes, I'm afraid.

Thanks for the googling, too! The curiosity has been killing me. Probably not as much as putting the electrodes on my temples would kill me, though. :)

JD at I Do Things said...

I was going to Google the Tens unit thingie too, but Lola beat me to it.

I use a Tens as you may know, and I find the results to be immediate. When I hook it up and turn it on . . . pain is gone, pretty much. So if you're not feeling immediate relief, you may want to talk to your therapist about positioning the pads or trying a higher . . . voltage. That's not the right word, but you know what I mean.

I hope your insurance covers it. Mine has been a lifesaver.

But then I don't have an ominous black shape to help me out.

absepa said...

JD: I remembered that you had done a post about your TENS, so I checked it out to make sure I wasn't stealing anything that you had written. I have the same one! I'm finding that the pain does not go away immediately when I turn it on, but it feels a GREAT deal better after four days of use. I'm still fiddling with the voltage, but I'm sure I'll hit that magical combination soon. I'm hoping for the best with the insurance.