Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stress Is Bad, Mmkay?

Here I sit, with an ice pack on my back, hopped up on muscle relaxers, and chewing Aleve like it's my favorite candy. Whatever did I do, you ask... well, your guess is as good as mine, but my massage therapist and chiropractor both think I have a dislocated rib.

This is my first experience with a dislocated rib, and if you've never had one, consider yourself lucky and pray that it doesn't happen to you! I can't even take a breath without feeling a sharp, stabbing pain in my mid-back. I can't put on socks, tie my shoes, or go about my daily routine without periods of excruciating pain.

I have been sore since Saturday after my horse took me for that crazy ride. All the cantering made my back and shoulders very sore. Then I showed all day Sunday, and I know for certain I was holding tension in my shoulders and back because that's just what I do on show days. I remember forcing myself to take some deep breaths and relax, but who knows how long that worked. I didn't ride Monday, but I did ride on Tuesday... at that point, I was feeling okay. Sore, but okay.

Tuesday night at work I was adjusting my chair and remember feeling some pain in my mid-back, on the left side. I felt it right around my shoulder blade, which is near-ish to rib number seven. When I got home, I took a muscle relaxer I had leftover from my previous muscle related incident.

I slept like a baby!!

When I got up and started getting ready for the barn is when the pain really started to take hold. I really wanted to ride, though, so I got in the truck and started driving to the barn. OMG was I in pain... leaning up against the seat and having to turn the steering wheel caused my back muscles to spasm like nobody's business. I could feel the spasms coming on and they started out dull and achy, and then for about 5 seconds the pain was unbearable, and then I felt them loosen up and the dull, achy pain came back.

Pain or no pain, I finished my drive to the barn, still planning to ride. (I really wanted to ride!!) It was when I couldn't open the gate to Lilly's pasture without a spasm that I decided riding might not be a good idea. So I gave her some hay, got back in my truck and screamed in pain the whole way home. I'm surprised I didn't punch a hole in my console, because it was taking a beating!

I described my symptoms to my fiance and he told me I needed to go to the doctor. I hate the doctor, because they never know what's wrong. They just prescribe meds I have to wait around for, and tell me to come back later if I'm not better. So since I still had pills from the last time, I took another muscle relaxer. After about an hour, I could feel it kicking in, so I went to work.

I could tell the pill was wearing off around 9pm that night, so when I got home, I took another pill. I slept like a baby AGAIN!

This morning the pain was still intense, but the spasms didn't last as long. The pain was more like knives being plunged into my shoulder, which was painful, but I was thankful they weren't lasting as long as they were yesterday.

It just so happens that I had an appointment with my massage therapist today. I told her what was going on with my shoulder and she noticed that my left shoulder was about an inch higher than my right shoulder. That usually means the muscles on the higher side are contracted, causing the shoulder to sit higher. After doing an examination of my back, she said, "I bet it hurts right here." After catching my breath, I told her that's exactly where it hurts. She said she couldn't actually diagnose me, but she was pretty sure I had a dislocated rib. After the hour long massage, I felt like a million bucks, but I called my chiropractor to see about getting an appointment.

Luckily, I have an amazing chiropractor and he was able to see me today before work. By then the heavenly feeling I had from the massage therapist had worn off. I was back to having spasms and shooting pain. He loosened up my muscles with his funny looking vibrating machine and then told me to take a deep breath... I popped like crazy and held in the tears as much as I could. He did some more twisting and manipulating and I heard three different pops, which he said were the ribheads that were out of alignment. Sometimes they can lay against nerve pathways, which will cause more pain and spasms. Then he had me lay on my side and once he twisted me in the middle, I couldn't help it, and the tears came. Pain like I've never felt... When he was done with me, the assistant came in to do some ultrasound therapy and rub on some Biofreeze.

I don't feel even the least bit better, but the cold pack should help. He said it'll take some time for the inflammation to go down and for the muscles to relax. If I'm not feeling any better tomorrow, I should call him again.

I sure hope I'm better tomorrow... otherwise I guess I'll have to skip Saturday's show, which is really going to suck.

So I don't know how or why this happened... my massage therapist thinks it's stress related. She said because of all the riding, and with the show this past weekend, it's possible that I've just been holding a lot of stress in that area of my body. Finally my muscles just got so tight that they pulled my rib out of place. Once the rib was out of place, the muscles started to spasm, which is what I've been feeling.

I know horses will sometimes have ribs out of place... I hope this isn't what it feels like to them!!

31 comments:

  1. Hope you feel better soon - that sounds like it really hurts!

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  2. Bah! I've totally had this. specifically when P pitched me into the arena wall, a rib just stayed stuck out of place as I recovered.... I will say serious deep tissue massage and acupuncture fixed it after only a treatment or two... It made me a believer.

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    1. The massage I had today was amazing, but I hadn't considered acupuncture. Thanks for the suggestion... I'll definitely look into it.

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  3. Have you ever considered yoga? Its AMAZING for stretching, relaxing, and finding your center. Whether you buy a video, take a class, or self teach yourself in the living room its a wonderful tool. I can tell when I my body is responding to my stress and immediately go to my yoga for relief.

    Coming from the PRO of injuries you need to be drinking so much water you have to pee every HOUR. You need to flush out your system. Aleve(naproxen) is good Advil(IBprofen) is better. Don't do more than your body says you can. Believe the pain is there as a guide.

    Something to think about....if your shoulders aren't even and your horse mirrors you.....can you think of why she has a good way to canter and a bad way? ;)

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    1. I have the book "Yoga for Equestrians" on my Amazon wish list, but that's the closest I've come to any actual yoga. It might be time to seriously consider it.

      Are you saying that because my right shoulder is about an inch lower than my left shoulder that it's the reason my horse has trouble loping to the right?? I hadn't thought about that, but you might be on to something!!

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    2. I hope you're feeling better! Back pain of any kind is miserable. And I wish the yoga book wasn't just on your wish list because I've been wondering very much if riders find yoga helpful lol.

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  4. You have my greatest sympathies. Back pain sucks. I've been there. Hope you feel better soon.

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  5. I so feel your pain. I'm so sorry. Spent several months in agony last fall with a very similar pain. When it was all said and done, Yoga is what has helped me the most. (giggles)...Me? Doing yoga? That's just plain funny. But I did and still do, whenever the dull pain starts, I take a few minutes to stretch and have managed to stay pain free.

    Hope you find something that works for you soon. That kind of pain is so debilitating.

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    1. Thank you!! I hope this pain is over soon and doesn't turn out to be something chronic. I guess I'm going to have to look into yoga, though... especially if stress in my body really is the reason all this happened.

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  6. Well think about it....if you aren't center your horse can't be center.

    I miss my weekly yoga class but remember the moves that REALLY make me feel good and use them often. A few classes might be the way to get an introduction then you can decide if you want the class setting or home setting to continue. I know when I go to class I leave feeling taller because I've stretched and feel awesome.

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    1. Right now the thought of stretching makes me want to vomit, but once this whole rib thing has passed, I'm going to look into doing some yoga. Sounds like it works well for a lot of you.

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  7. Ohhh, you poor thing. Alex is right, yoga rocks.

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    1. Do you go to yoga classes or do you just do it in your home? I wonder if I could manage on my own... there's a studio fairly close to my house, though, so maybe I should start there.

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    2. If there's yoga classes near you, I'd recommend that you go in person for a month (maybe once a week, not Yoga Boot Camp or anything). I think it's pretty crucial to have an instructor show you exactly how to move your body to do the basic poses properly. Then after that you can do it at home - DVDs are good, or once you get a basic routine in your head just use that.

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  8. That sucks! I hate doctors too, but if you don't feel better soon, maybe you should get it checked out just to be sure.

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    1. Someone else suggested maybe I should get an x-ray if it isn't better, just to make sure. I half expected to feel better once the rib was back in place, so perhaps I will end up calling the doctor. I hope I'm better in the morning, though!

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  9. OMG I have SO been there. It's horrible, debilitating, you-can't-even-breathe pain. Hot knives in the back is about right. I really, really feel for you!

    I'm glad your chiro helped out - mine just made it worse trying to do adjustments (I was white as a sheet after he tried the last time, and almost couldn't breathe). The little laser treatment thingy and massage therapy worked best for me.

    I really hope you feel better ASAP - it really SUCKS! Take care of yourself and be CAREFUL!

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    1. I'm sorry you've been in my shoes, Jen! This definitely tops my list of "things that suck!" I left my chiropractic office in tears, but I kept telling myself I was going to feel better when he was done. Hopefully it really did help.

      I might need to make another appointment with my massage therapist... thank you for the well wishes!

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  10. I am so sorry you went through all that pain! And I know that pain, I have broken a rib a few times and it is not pleasant, at all!! Of course there isn't anything they can do for broken ribs so I lived in severe pain for weeks and just when it would start to heal, it would re-break. It took about 2 yrs until I finally felt normal. That happened about 19 yrs ago.
    I hope your chiro appt fixed it so you get on the mend and get back to riding and showing!! Feel better soon!!!

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    1. Yikes!! I'm glad my ribs are only dislocated... the doc can put them back into place and I can get some relief.

      Thank you!

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  11. Ow. Ow. Ow. You poor thing! I sure hope that heals fast!

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  12. Poor thing! I hope you get some relief soon!

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  13. Alex is so right. If this has been sort of building up without you realizing it even, it sure can affect your horse. I had extreme left shoulder and arm pain toward the end of the season last year and extreme right hip pain. When I started going to the gym I found I wasn't swinging my right leg the same as I was my left. Almost fell off of the treadmill a few times before I figured it out. LOL I was walking crooked to the right and Moon was also walking crooked to the right. So much so that I noticed his right hoof was changing and the farrier told me it was because Moon was not striding straight on that leg. Since Moon has always had near perfect feet, something was obviously changed. Coincidence? Maybe on one horse, but the fact that Frosty was also striding short on his right leg and had a tendency to stumble on that leg made me a believer that it was coming from ME. That was the same time that the farrier gave me the lecture on how overbuilt my horses were in the rear portion of their loin muscle. Somewhere along the way, I had started riding stiffer to protect my painful shoulder and it totally affected how my horses were traveling. :(

    I knew nothing about Yoga, so I took some of the classes offered at the gym. I was glad I did because I really had no 'feel' for how much to stretch or how long to hold it. I kinda jumped in the classes with both feet though because they came with my gym membership. I did a Yoga class once a week. A 'Burn-it' class once a week and also a Yoga/Pilates class once a week. The stretching helped immediately, but it took about six weeks for me to get my upper body muscles rebalanced. I had a 10-15lb difference between my left side and my right side. That's a lot when you think of it in terms of aids when you are riding. What felt like a 5lb pull on the left hand, was actually more like 2lbs and what felt like a 5lb pull on the left side was more like asking with about 10lbs of force. It made total sense of why my horses have a tendency to be a bit lackluster when I would ask for right bends and overreactive when I would ask for left bends. Crazy huh?

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    1. It's crazy to think that because of my uneven shoulders and body that Lilly is having a difficult time, but it totally makes sense! Maybe that's part of why I'm all jacked up now too... riding crooked for so long finally did me in. I did have a pretty intense ride on Tuesday, so that could be what finally pulled everything out of whack.

      I found a nice studio not too far from my place, so I'm going to see about taking some classes there. I'm just not sure how long I should wait before I start taking them.

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    2. Wait til you don't hurt acutely. It's not as horrible as, like, spin class or running, but it's not easy and you won't get the full benefit if you can't move comfortably.

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  14. Owwwie!! Hope you're feeling better soon!! But don't push it for the weekend if you're not recovered!! Better one missed then a whole summer of pain! : ( Ouch!

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    1. Thank you! I just can't help myself when it comes to showing... I see what you're saying, though!

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