Can Play With His Son Again
“No More Frozen Shoulder”
--Alan Larson, on Therapy360© at McKeithan Pain Treatment Center
My right shoulder started hurting – just out of the blue – about four months before I ended up at McKeithan Pain Treatment Center. At first I only felt pain when I extended my arm behind me, like when I was scratching my back. That is, when I moved my arm to bring my hand around behind me, the shoulder would hurt in front.
I play tennis a lot – sometimes as often as three times in a week, so I’m pretty active. I figured it would go away, just like other pains that’ve occurred from time to time. Only, it didn’t. In fact, it got worse. After awhile, I couldn’t move my arm to the side and up, until before long, I couldn’t even toss the tennis ball into the air for a serve. Then it got so I wasn’t able to reach behind me in the car to hand something to my son Griffin in his seat in the back. I’d wake up several times during the night because of the sharp pain in the shoulder.
The treatments my doctor told me about, including surgery and physical therapy, were not very appealing for a number of reasons. For one thing, they would be pretty painful and invasive. For another, my shoulder would be out of commission for several months to a year, and I’d have had to go to physical therapy and do a bunch of exercises. Even though I play tennis, I don’t like working out, doing specific exercises. They’re boring, time consuming, and I’m just not going to do them, period. I know that about myself.
But the pain continued to increase, and my range of motion decreased to the point where I couldn’t play tennis anymore. I was talking about it with Mac Bond, my accountant, who said maybe I ought to go see this McKeithan guy. I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was McKeithan did, but I had a good recommendation, and thought, what the heck, I’d give it a try.
When I went, we sat and talked for awhile, with McKeithan asking a lot of questions, which I answered as best I could. He was particularly interested that the pain and limited range had come on suddenly, with no apparent cause. He explained to me that there’s a relationship between patterns in a person’s life – especially in relationships – and patterns in the way the body fits together, in how it moves. He said that, when you can change the patterns in your relation to other people, and to yourself, that often opens the gate to changing muscular relationships in the body. He said until that happened for me, he thought it very likely that I would not be able to get rid of the shoulder restriction and its accompanying pain, unless I did something radically invasive, namely, surgery.
He explained that, once I began this process, with his help, then his therapy [Therapy 360º©] could shift the muscular patterns, resolve the pain and return my range-of-motion to where it had been.
As a computer software consultant, I’m a pretty technical thinker, and this explanation didn’t exactly make sense to me, but something had to have caused this sudden deterioration in my shoulder function. It didn’t really just arrive out of thin air – even I know the body doesn’t work that way. And I really wanted to get this thing resolved. I couldn’t play with Griffin – couldn’t lift him up onto my shoulders and carry him around, couldn’t “fly” him off the couch, or even lift him into his car seat. This hurt – a lot. Playing tennis was really important to me, too.
So I said, let’s go for it.
He said, “great!” and off we went.
I can’t tell you what all we did—it was pretty complex– but it involved my getting in touch with a lot of emotional stuff from my past and having some very specific conversations with people who’re in my life now, and some who’ve moved out of it in one way or another.
McKeithan was there with me, every step of the way. He said I could call him for support between sessions. I don’t think I ever did, but it was nice knowing that he was available. By the way, he never said or implied that the pain wasn’t real, that the restrictions weren’t there. He just let me know that we were working not only on the pain and the restrictions, but on the underlying cause as well.
Anyway, after we talked, depending on whether I’d done my homework or not, or had gotten to some particular place he was looking for, he would put me on his table and administer what he called tweaks and doinks – pretty gentle signals he put into my muscles with his fingers.
Then we agreed that going to a chiropractor would help speed things up in getting my body to shift. I went to Dr. Alan Graham, a chiropractor that I trusted from past experience. He and McKeithan worked in harmony to move my recovery along at a faster pace.
In the beginning, we started with weekly sessions. At the fifth session, I told McKeithan that I wasn’t being awakened by that sharp pain at night. This was a big deal, and I knew we were on the right track. He broadened his treatment to include a subset of his therapy, which he explained derived from something called Ortho-Bionomy®. Because I have had a very difficult time relaxing my body, he taught me how to do that, and when sometimes I couldn’t, for whatever reason, he developed ways to basically have me drift off to sleep, so that his techniques could work without my resistance. We used to joke about my coming to his office to snooze.
I should mention, too, that when I first came to him, McKeithan noticed that my left elbow joint didn’t open fully, and asked me whether I wanted him to work with that. Again, he said it’d require me to specifically work out, or practice yoga, or something else I wouldn’t do, so he worked on it only when there was time in the session, which there often wasn’t. None-the-less, there was some improvement there.
Somewhere around session thirteen, I realized I could reach behind me in our van to pass something to Griffin in his car seat, and I could reach behind me to my upper mid-back with some effort. This was another great milestone!
Following that, there was a steady, incremental increase in my ability to do things. I remember being able to pick up Griffin for the first time in months during this period. It was wonderful! McKeithan said he thought I could get back on the tennis court now, but that I should start slowly. Sometime in June -- I think that was the seventeenth session -- I’d played several sets of tennis in that one week, and actually won several!
At this point, my left elbow was giving me pain, because I was using it in tennis, so he focused on that for awhile, and within one or two sessions, that pain too was gone. By the end of thirty sessions, all of my pain was gone, and my range of shoulder motion was very close to where it had been. We discontinued treatment at that point, with the option to resume if things didn’t continue to improve.
McKeithan called me today, three months after my last treatment, to see how I was doing. I was able to tell him I can now reach up my back to my shoulder blade, and, to my amazement, it continues to improve! It seems once he got it started, as long as I use it, it just continues to improve on its own.