No To Surgery, Yes To Massage

A few days ago, while we were playing dart at our hang-out, I overheard a buddy telling one of our friends he is being scheduled by his doctor to have a surgery on his left ankle joint. Inquisitively, I asked why. He said the pain that has been causing him distress for months is not getting better- impending his movements.

Actually, I asked this fellow a month ago why he is limping, but the people around us kidded it was arthritis which he somewhat admitted must be true as part of becoming old for he is now 48 years old. But this time he told me that the joint was sprained 15 years ago, and the pain was bothering him once in a while for the last five years when he mildly reinjured it, however this time it is longer than he expected.

He said his doctor, who read his X-ray, explained the bones of the ankle- joint are now rubbing each other or the lower end of the tibia collapsed putting pressure to the lower bone. The doctor said further that the best way to treat the problem is to open the joint. He (doctor) therefore scheduling a surgery by April or early June. The doctor further instructed him never to get a massage treatment because it is contraindicated. Well, my ego got pinched with that comment, so, I told this buddy I never saw anyone got better after they had surgery of the same problem.

I said we can try massage even at that moment to see if massage is advisable or not. He should feel the effect immediately – good or bad. I had no hard time convincing him because he already got some quick fixed from me about his neck pain and weak arm few months before and he became very friendly to me even though we were just new to each other.

His concerned was we were drinking gin as a routine whenever darters meet every afternoon to improve their skill of hitting the dart board or when meet their buddies. I said it may be a concern, but I told him that the drunk people get it in a corner at the bar houses and they enjoy it without any complaints afterwards.

Convinced, he removed his shoe and sock for me to work on his painful left ankle joint.

The whole joint was obviously inflamed, and was sensitive to touch. Basically, I worked on the muscles far from the problem. I massaged the part closed to the knee and slowly approached the center of the pain stopping before reaching it. Next, I massaged the toes, and the entire foot. While I was doing the massage, I looked for trigger points or acupoints/shiatsu points. Then I worked on the main problem by concentrating on the acupoints I found and finishing it with effleurage using my thumb. The treatment lasted for about 30 minutes.

After the treatment he said his foot felt very much relieved for the first time though the pain was not completely gone. I asked him to try walking to see the difference now from before. He walked and the obvious improvement was seen on his gait. He was very happy but I seemed erred because he was disgusted about his doctor who advised of not getting massage while pushing for a surgery as the last option. I told him not to get so excited yet, because I still want to know what will be the feeling the following day.

We again saw each other the following day and I flippantly asked him to give me a complete report.

He said two hours after the treatment, he felt the pain came back and felt it was seem worse than before. But he said they went to the mini dart tournament about half mile away from our hang-out and continued drinking beer until 3 o’clock. Nonetheless, in the morning when he woke up, after 4 hours of sleep, he was happy the pain was almost completely gone and was better than after the massage. We rescheduled for more sessions until the root of the problem will be solved.

This story is true and I have more patients of the past who were told by doctors their only option is surgery but helped by the “magic” of massage.

One patient was told he should stop from his job as caregiver because it involves lifting patients from their bed to the wheelchair and vice versa. And what’s weird, he was advised not to bend and twist because it could aggravate his back pain which his doctor said is being caused by a problem called spinal stenosis where in the spine narrowed pinching the spinal nerve on his lower back. The problem was also causing him numbness on his right leg. The doctor’s advise was surgery. He was worried, so, he called me to see what I can do.

Upon asking him questions and examining his situation, I told him he can go back to his work in a week. I also advised him never gave in to the doctor’s advice of having surgery.

I gave massage on his large muscles on his back down to his leg, and made two more schedules after that. Thank the Almighty, he was back to work.

Spinal stenosis is one of the simplest problem massage can treat but medical pundits are making so much a big deal about it. It only requires common sense to understand that when muscles are overworked they also get inflamed and could pinch anything that passes through them. This usually happens when it’s your first time doing a work, or you work more than the capacity the muscle can tolerate. And like the muscles of the arms that get sore when lifting weights, the same thing with our back muscles. That is why it is very important to always get exercise to always have our muscles healthy and being prepared when we pick up or lift something.

So, next time when you are examined by doctors do not listen to the highly technical words they’re using because the real problem is much simpler than the name they tell. When pain of the muscle is the problem try massage – I tell you, it helps.

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