Hey there friends! I have a bit of a different post lined up for you today. As most of you know, I was dealing with a rather debilitating injury for most of last year and I am finally, FINALLY (mostly) healed and pain free!!! It's been a wild ride and I have had a lot of questions about what was going on. So, here you have it, a whole (very long) post dedicated to my right arm.
In January 2017 I went on a knitting spree knitting this sweet sweater. I was knitting for multiple hours a day and when I do that I tend to have some soreness, as one would expect. Around the same time, I fell into a total Instagram hole. I was just non-stop scrolling. Eventually my thumb would start hurting and I would just keep scrolling. It got to the point where my thumb was actually hurting like a lot and I started calling it "Instagram Thumb Disease." You can definitely use that term if you have ever been affected by it (and I know you all have).
Did I rethink my priorities? Did I give myself breaks? Did I get the F off of instagram?
I just carried on, scrolling away, knitting tons, playing on the computer for hours, you know the drill. It was one of those things where I knew it was a bad idea but that freakin' dopamine just kept going and I couldn't stop. Technology addiction is real, y'all. Here's the thing about your thumb, though: it connects to your elbow. Weird, right? Don't believe me? Stick your arm straight out, put your opposite fingers on the top of your elbow and move your thumb. You feel that? Yep, you do, because your thumb is in fact attached to your elbow. All of that is to say this- my thumb was no longer the only thing hurting, my forearm and elbow were hurting quite a bit too.
Finally in March or April I decided to cut back on the knitting and 'gramming some and I went to my old orthopedist who I have seen for various ailments throughout the years. I will not name drop her now because I was very unhappy with the care I got from her this time around. She basically felt around my elbow and said she didn't feel anything and told me to just take Advil. Okkkkkkkkk.
I suffered through a few more months of pain and would occasionally knit a bit and would INSTANTLY have sharp pain in my forearm and elbow. Throughout this entire injury my arm was just so so tight and I couldn't get it to relax. I would go through periods of not doing anything- no crafts, go scrolling on my phone or computer- and the tightness would persist. I was constantly aware of my forearm and that's not something most people are aware of at all times.
In June I went to a hand specialist. He specializes mostly in carpal tunnel and I had seen him a few years ago when I had a bit of tennis elbow from typing a lot, knitting a lot, and holding babies all the time while I was nannying. He told me that my symptoms were consistent with radial tunnel syndrome which is basically carpal tunnel syndrome but on the top part of your arm instead of the bottom part. He gave me a cortisone shot and a brace that I had to wear until the soreness from the shot went away and then every night while I slept.
Apparently some people have a reaction to a cortisone shot called a "cortisone flare". I am one of those people. For me, the pain and soreness significantly increased after the injection and continued for about 72 hours. And then like magic, after 72 hours everything felt mostly normal. I thought I was cured!
Reader, I was not cured.
I had about a 75% reduction in pain. That's not nothing but I still was experiencing significant pain when knitting, and really, all I care about in life is being able to knit (and a few other things). About 2 months after the initial injection, I went back to the specialist and he said that he was pretty sure the last 25% was due to tennis elbow and he gave me another cortisone injection. I had another cortisone flare but this time, nothing else happened. The pain from the injection went away but the pain from the tennis elbow did not. I was discouraged at this point because I was about to go to Stitches Texas and I needed to be able to knit for 3 hours at a time and I definitely wasn't going to be able to do that.
September and Stitches Texas came around and I decided to go because I had spent a lot of money to be there. I went to my first class, continental knitting, and was seated next to someone who just happened to be a physical therapist! I told her about my poor elbow and she told me to start taking anti-inflammatories every day, ice for 5 mins a day, and do cross fiber massage. It really did help and it got me through my classes at Stitches with little to no pain! But after doing that for a few weeks, I kinda hit a plateau and was still having tightness and pain.
At my wits end, I finally decided to look into this place that a few friends had told me about many months ago, Airrosti. All I had heard about them at this point was that they were "soft tissue specialists". I did all the paperwork online and someone called to set up an appointment almost instantly (even though it was the weekend!). A few days later, in October, I was at an Airrosti clinic (there are tons of them) and had my first treatment.
What exactly does this treatment look like, you ask? You spend 30 min with the doctor who does this massage type thing and then 15-20 min with the physical therapist. The first 30 min are...interesting. Since my injury was my arm, I'd lay on this table and the doctor would just rub my arm really hard for 30 min. this ain't your relaxing-by-the-pool-on-vacation type massage, my friends. this is a I-have-to-stop-talking-to-breathe-through-the-pain type "massage". I bruised every time.
Sounds fun, right?! But in all seriousness, both of my doctors and my physical therapist were wonderful and we had good convos that really helped make the time go by. One of my friends who has also been to Airrosti says she thinks part of the training is in having good convos and I bet she's right!
After the "massage" they send you over to the physical therapist who gives you exercises to do. For my arm, my exercises included a theraband, lacrosse ball, rubber band, and a wall ha! They also tape you up with kinesiotape. After my arm treatment was over, I asked to keep coming to work on my shoulders too, so we added a foam roller into the mix. I now understand why people have love/hate relationships with foam rollers. While I'm using it, I curse the day it was invented, but afterward I feel amazing!
While in treatment, you do your physical therapy exercises at home everyday 2x/day and ice for 20 mins after. I had a really elaborate ice setup and I honestly kinda looked forward to it! Most people have their injuries resolved in THREE VISITS! I did 5 sessions for my arm and I think like 6 sessions for both shoulders combined. While in treatment, you are encouraged to keep doing all of your activities as long as they don't cause pain. This meant I could do some knitting and I was going to yoga regularly at this time too. By Thanksgiving, I was done with treatment.
So, I have been out of treatment for 3 months now and I am still feeling great! I keep up with my physical therapy exercises- at first I did them once a day and iced if I had a lot of soreness, then I was able to drop down to every other day, and at this point I'm typically doing the exercises twice/week. I am able to knit for several hours at a time now with no pain at all and typically without any soreness even! I truly thought that I might never knit pain free again, so I am totally thrilled with my results and even more thrilled when I chill out and knit! Since treatment, I have finished 3 projects, more than I have finished in a very long time. I am so grateful to my team at Airrosti and I recommend them 1000%! If you have any questions about my injury, treatment, or recovery, please feel free to ask.
And, let this be a reminder to us all to not overdo things. You don't want to be in pain for nearly a year, my friends. It's not worth it. Be kind to yourself.