A long overdue update but wrists and brain have been temporarily out of action since the diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome around a month or so ago. Since then, I have been trying every possible treatment, exercise and approach to do my best to recover and be ready to get my life back as knitter and clarinettist! My first day at HV Skola starts this Monday where the dream come true of knitting full-time becomes reality! I really can’t wait and, even though I have been faced with the worst possible injury – i.e. problems with wrists and hands – I am determined to take hold of the situation, accept it, be positive and move forward!
So what are the approaches to injury, conventional and alternative that I’ve tried? Well, an earlier post shows the exercises and suggestions of an occupational therapist. It was helpful to meet her and certainly using wrist splints at night, although not comfortable, did seem to alleviate the worst symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness. However, the advice was that playing music and / or knitting repetitively was the likely cause of my injury so the treatment was 1) rest and then 2) return to the activities carefully (with a due sense of expectation that this would cause the symptoms to return.)
At the same clinic, a chiropractor with clicks and adjustments has straightened out my back and neck. I have noticed an improvement when I walk with a more balanced and upright gait. Good.
Furthermore, also at the same place, I have met a physiotherapist. The latest session being today. Her manipulation of my body to either induce or reduce pain/symptoms by different trigger points has given me some confidence that she knows what she’s doing. However, her theory is most of my inflammation in my arm and the tingling in my hands is secondary pain starting from poor posture and problems from the neck region.
The GP just doesn’t know but has referred me to see a hospital specialist to plug me into the mains and see which of my nerves respond and what sort of damage, if any, they can find. Both the GP and occupational therapist warn that surgery might be a final outcome.
With all this confusion, conflicting information and fear, I turned to an old university friend, Simon, who after graduating in music with me, decided to switch course to a career in acupuncture and mind-body medicine. He gave me links to videos and suggested reading plus a link to this website: Sirpa UK
It is an involved subject beyond the realms of this blog update, but the approach of mind-body medicine is to look at the body as a whole and to understand that unconscious, repressed emotions can be the root cause of physical pain in the body. The pain is not any less real in sensation but the brain is sending pain signals as response to emotions that have not been dealt with and, rather than those emotions being carried up to the conscious mind and handled, the brain protects you by giving you the distraction of physical pain. I was rather skeptical about this, of course. However, I have read both the books by the founder of Sirpa UK, Georgie Oldfield and the American doctor who developed this theory, Dr John Sarno (video.)
I have to say that the alternative approach and looking beyond only physical symptoms really calls out to me, a person that has had chronic bad health and a multitude of frustrating problems. I urge you to check out this information and you can decide for yourself.
I have also got into yoga and meditation which includes mindfulness. I experienced an uplifting 2 hour session only last night and it would seem to support the mind-body approach. Anyone in Stockholm, check this out this link for sessions led by the inspiring Johan: Yoga and Meditation
A former colleague of mine, Sara, who (like me) left teaching last term has a new path towards enlightenment through Ayurveda learning. She is in need of trial patients to learn how to be a consultant and I was more than happy to oblige. Ayurveda seems to be similar to the mind-body approach but there is also a focus on healing from the inside out. As someone who also suffers with stomach problems and food intolerances I was very happy for Sara to test her student knowledge on me especially since she made such delicious food and gave me cooking tips for a future happy tummy. It worked too!
I do value the exercises given to me by the physio* because she explains how, why and where these movements will build strengthen my body. And that is needed for my overall health. Whether or not they directly treat the carpal tunnel syndrome (if that what it is) is not certain but I certainly feel better doing the exercises and I have noticed an improvement overall. I shall do my best to embrace both approaches, the conventional and the alternative, in the best way I can without contradiction or conflict.
It has been a rather dark summer with my hands literally tied, but now I am ready to see the light, to think positively and remain hopeful of recovery. I spoke with my very kind teacher and she reassured me that the full-time knitting program can be adapted if necessary to any difficulties I may have. I really can’t wait to start my studies and I love that my welcoming email tells me that after registration that we knitters (a small, select group) go off to our own studio and start knitting straight away – needles and yarn already waiting in place for our arrival!
*The physio exercises:
- While seated, drop the left arm to the side with the head tilted the same way (to the left) for a more gentle stretch. Gently twist the hand outwards but if any numbness occurs stop and return the hand to relaxed position. Raise the shoulder up and lift while tipping the head sideways gently against to the right. Think of the nerves gliding rather than stretching. Repeat 10 times then repeat with the right side. Work within / before pain occurs and expand as the area improves.
- Sitting forwards, shoulders down and back lower the chin with head back and up to encourage a better neck posture.
- Against the wall: try the chin back stretch (exercise 2) supported by the wall
- Try opening out the shoulders against the wall. Shoulders are down, chest out and palms face outwards.
- Resistance rubber bands (pictured) – tie against a door handle and pull using both hands in strong fists, not allowing wrists to turn, pull both bands towards you stopping with your elbows at the side (not behind the body) and feel the pull of the shoulder blades drawing together. Posture should be upright and chin down, head up, gaze straight ahead.
- Hold resistance band in both hands directly in front of you with a small gap of rubber band between left and right hand for resistance. Hold elbows in to the body and pull from the centre outwards with both hands so that arms end up outwards, perpendicular to the body, then allow to go back so hands are front and centre. Repeat this exercise using the lightest resistance band, in this case yellow.
- On yoga mat: tense the tummy and feel with both fingers the inside of the pelvic bone on both sides. Breathe in and out a few times. Then begin pelvic lifts slowly moving upwards, keeping the tummy working, and slowly returning back to the floor. Repeat.
- On yoga mat: lying on the floor with both legs up but knees bent. Keep the left leg up, knee bent but dip the foot of the right to the floor and back up, then alternate and do the same action with the left. Repeat.
In addition I am continuing yoga/meditation as much as I can and using a balance board to increase core strength and improve posture. I am hoping the book holder encourages me to keep my head up while following patterns. Surely some of this has to work!
Heres to happy and healthy knitting!