M&M physiotherapy (25.07.2016)
Based on the recommendation of my physiotherapist, and a specialist surgeon who stopped by to see me – well, really to see my rare disease! – in the day surgery operating room (OR) last week, I’m trying a new approach for my fingers, hand, and wrist.
As a result of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), sometimes also called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), the joints in the fingers and wrist of my right hand are all so stiff that my hand is almost frozen into a claw-like appendage. And, of course, I’m right-handed! I also have severe pain, both neuropathic pain (feels like my entire hand, from the wrist down, is being blowtorched) and joint pain.
The new approach I’m trying is called manipulation and mobilization physiotherapy (PT), or M&M. And unfortunately it doesn’t involve M&M’s candies in any way! Nor is it spinal manipulation, which is very controversial. Using the M&M technique, my physiotherapist will try to ‘break’ the adhesions that have formed in each of these joints. The best way to explain these adhesions seems to be that they’re similar to scar tissue – inside each joint.
The concept of M&M is that it will break up these adhesions, in every joint of each finger; this should increase my range of motion for each joint, because the adhesions are blocking the full range of the joint. These adhesions are also causing fairly severe joint pain, in addition to the neuropathic pain caused by CRPS.
Manipulation and mobilization of joints are two different types of manual PT. In manipulation, the physiotherapist holds either side of the joint and then uses small & very rapid movements to either push into the joint or pull out from it. This treatment’s meant to break the adhesions and hopefully improve range of motion or mobility. I’ve been told that it can sometimes relieve pain as well, which would be a bonus for me! I was warned that my joints might sound like knuckles being cracked, or there could be popping and clicking sounds. Snap, crack(le), pop… I feel like an ad for Rice Krispies cereal!
The mobilization approach is a bit different; the physiotherapist uses slower movements to push or pull on each joint, specifically to try to extend the range of motion – over the long term. M&M uses a combination of both therapies, sometimes switching between them every few minutes.
I’ve only had a couple of sessions so far, but already have a good feeling about this. I’ve felt some miniscule, tiny improvements. It’s very painful, and has caused a few wicked pain “flares”, but I’m going to stick with it because of the teeny tiny improvements to-date.
As with everything else with this rare disease, I’ve been warned not to expect any progress, and that improvements – if any – could be a long time coming… But I can’t help being my optimistic self, so am hoping M&M will help me get my hand back, so I can get back to doing the things I love! Like cycling along this gorgeous bike route near my home ‘-)