Many of you already have heard about my unfortunate little accident a while back. I used to be a skateboarder as a teenager and I decided to jump back on a half-pipe after 30 years. I did okay for a few minutes but my luck ran out and I took a hard fall. Turns out, riding a skateboard on a half-pipe isn’t quite as easy to do after 30 years as riding a bike. Well suffice it to say, it made for an interesting week and I had to be on the receiving end of the care that I recommend to my patients.
From time to time I will have a patient ask me what I would do if I were in their position. Well, I want to share exactly what I did as a bit of an overall instruction of what I consider “best practice” for treating acute injury. I’ll pause at what I consider to be important “take home points” and summarize my suggestions at the end.
Right after I picked myself up from the ground, I knew that this was a significant injury. I could barely move my arm and it was really painful. By the way I landed my first thought was that I had torn my rotator cuff muscles and I was pretty scared. I hit my head hard as well so I was in a bit of shock. After a few minutes had past and I could process things a bit better, I weighed the option of going to the ER. No obvious fractures and none of my joints were dislocated so I felt that I wasn’t going to require immediate surgery or treatment. Since ER’s are so incredibly expensive to get diagnostic tests and imaging, I elected to just go home and sleep and see an expert in the morning.
Take Home Point #1
It’s a judgement call but try to get a sense of how “emergent” the situation is. No broken bones? No neurological damage? No dislocations? No changes in blood flow? Probably can wait until morning.
Unfortunately, sleep proved to be really challenging and I didn’t get much of it that night. I knew that ice is a great way to control pain and inflammation in the first 72 hours so I applied it in 15 minute increments every couple of hours. In addition, I immediately started taking therapeutic doses of Inflammatone – one of my secret weapons against inflammation. It is a multifaceted natural inflammation quencher with curcumin, boswelia, rosemary, resveretrol and serrapeptase. In addition, I doubled up my Omega-3 oils which are also anti-inflammatory.
Take Home Point #2
Start anti-inflammatory support as soon as possible. Ibuprofen and other pharmaceutical products are incredibly tough on the digestion and liver so I’d opt for much safer approaches that actually do a better job of controlling inflammation anyway. Ice is not only anti-inflammatory but also numbs pain so it is great in the early stages.
The morning after, I called one of my chiropractic colleagues. I knew that I needed to rule out fracture and shoulder separation with an x-ray. Why would I choose a chiropractor for a shoulder injury? Simple. I have yet to meet any other professional who can get more information from a musculoskeletal exam than a chiropractor. In addition, as chiropractors are evaluating what isn’t working, they can immediately begin to restore function. I had an X-ray, physical exam and we had reset the nerve/muscle communication to areas that weren’t firing properly all in 30 minutes.
Take Home Point #3
Knowing who to see first is important. Maybe it would have been okay to see the orthopedist first but I knew that an injury like I had is like a earthquake. There is an epicenter (site of injury) and then there is a wave of damage that spreads out from that area and affects other areas around the initial injury. Muscles and joints in the vicinity of the injury become dysfunctional almost immediately after the injury. Chiropractors can begin to correct those secondary problems to create a dramatic change in the function of the area very quickly. In essence, keeping the damage small and avoiding what I call “injury creep” (where within a few days a person ends up with pain from all sorts of problems that weren’t caused by the injury.)
After the chiropractic exam and X-rays, I went to a trusted orthopedic surgeon. I wanted a second opinion. Because I had already ruled out fracture from the x-ray, we knew that I had a soft tissue injury and that an MRI was going to be the best way to see it. I scheduled that for the next day. Because I belong to a Christian Healthshare Ministry instead of a regular insurance company, I pay for my health bills and then get reimbursed. That means I’m careful about wasting money. I asked for the cash price for the MRI. It was only $342.00 instead of well over a thousand that would be billed to the insurance company.
Take Home Point #4
I saw several people and had multiple tests and treatment done but because of how I’ve done it, I’m keeping the costs far below what even an hour in the ER would have cost.
Next, I went back to my office and treated the area with a low level laser. (I would have done this at the chiropractors but since I have one at the office it was easier to use mine.) Laser therapy speeds healing and repair of damaged tissues faster than any other modality. It needs to be done at least 1 time per day if possible but I had the advantage of owning it so I applied it 2-3 times per day.
Take Home Point #5
Lasers are superstars in the healing process and together with the supplements I was taking began to make a dramatic difference within just 48 hours from the injury.
The MRI went well but the results showed something that was a bit surprising to all of us. It turns out that I had actually dislocated my shoulder and then it popped back in. I had no idea of this in the moment of the injury.
Take Home Point #6
A careful history is important but there is no way for a person to fully process exactly what happens in an injury. Spending money on the right diagnostic test is money well spent.
The suspected tear to the rotator cuff was small and insignificant but there were other ligaments that were stretched and damaged. Luckily, these injuries typically don’t require surgery. Once we had a complete diagnosis, I knew exactly what to do and I was immediately able to very carefully add movement to my arm. I have gradually increased the range of motion each day.
- ER visits are tremendously expensive and a waste of time. Unless you’ve broken a bone or your joint is still dislocated, try for a visit to your favorite provider first.
- Dollar for dollar, I’m blown away by what a good chiropractor can do in assessing the damage and initiating the healing process.
- Getting the right diagnostic tests and imaging is always money well spent.
- When it comes down to it, healing takes time but there are ways to speed it up. Laser treatments and natural anti-inflammatory formulas work better and are far safer than OTC or prescribed medications. Here’s a link to learn more about the “cocktail” that I have been taking. These are available from the virtual dispensary but talk to me first for how best to use them. Inflammatone OmegaGenics OsteoVantiv OmegaGenics SPM Active
I have to advise you not to do anything quite as risky as I was doing but just in case you are prone to momentary lapses in judgement I hope that you’ll remember this list of solutions.