So, I think this is something a lot of people are thinking about these days, especially in terms of politics and world events.
It’s just human nature– people tend to dismiss facts and information that doesn’t fit in with the way they already see the world.
It’s true in many contexts, including healthcare– especially when you’re trying to find help for a condition many people aren’t aware of.
I’ve encountered this, time and time again.
When I first developed SI joint dysfunction, the first person I found who could help me at all was a chiropractor. Knowing what I know now, I regret all the time I spent going to see him. But at the time, he was the only person I could find who could even identify the problem, much less make the pain go away.
He could adjust my SI joints and put them back into alignment, so I could walk normally.
But the adjustments never lasted– I had to keep going back all the time.
After a while, he became frustrated. “I have other patients who are worse off than you,” he said. “And they don’t come in as often.”
Fast forward to now— I now know that I have a genetic hypermobility condition, and that I never should have been receiving chiropractic adjustments in the first place.
Every practitioner I’ve met who’s knowledgeable about hypermobility has told me that, in fact, my body is less able to handle the inflammation caused by a chiropractic adjustment. That is in fact why I always felt less stable after walking out of my chiropractor’s office, even though my SI joints were technically in place.
The chiropractor wasn’t a bad person. If anything, he was partially frustrated because he didn’t really want to be taking my money, for a problem that didn’t seem to be so bad.
But the facts of my case didn’t fit within anything he was trained to recognize, so his interpretation was that the problem was me.
For a while, I was also spending a ton of money on massage with a highly specialized neuromuscular therapist. In her defense, I do think this was another case where she partially felt guilty for taking my money.
But after a while she would tell me “your tissues feel sticky. I don’t know what it is.”
She said she had a few other patients like me that she just couldn’t seem to help. Every time she went to work on them, there would be something particularly different, or stiff, about their muscles, and she couldn’t seem to help them long term.
She ended up referring me to Chinese medicine and acupuncture because she felt there was something else underlying my condition that massage couldn’t treat.
Technically, both of these practitioners were right– there is something different about me.
In the past year, I’ve been learning a ton about fascia. It’s the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles, and it turns out that it can actually become tight and restricted, similarly to how muscles do.
It’s a new area of research so a lot of people– such as my massage therapist– aren’t aware of it.
But I’ve found a few PT’s who really know how to work with it and have even taught me some self-massage. Now that I know what it feels like myself, I’m convinced this is what that massage therapist was picking up on.
It was right there, under her finger tips! Once you know how to look for it, it’s not that hard to find.
But somehow this person, who’d had extensive experience and training in working with the muscles themselves, could not identify a problem in the tissue that lies right above the muscles.
Again, it was the right thing for her to do morally, to tell me when she didn’t feel she could help, rather than taking my money.
But my message to you is never to stop believing in yourself, or that you can find an answer.
Looking back, I can see that I’ve really internalized some of the messages healthcare practitioners have given me over the years. Both my chiropractor and this massage therapist made me feel as though I was different, other.
That something was very wrong with me and that, my showing up for repeated appointments in an effort to help myself was actually, somehow, a waste of everyone’s time.
There was an answer. It was there all along.
Now I know that for many people, especially hypermobile people like me, we really do much better with the most gentle interventions and joint mobilizations possible.
I’ve also learned, from some very knowledgeable physical therapists, that we are more likely to develop tightness in the fascia, as it’s one way the body has of compensating for loose ligaments.
It’s all in perspective.
When I didn’t have the right information, I was really more vulnerable to internalizing what other people thought of me– that I was “over-anxious,” or “dwelling on things,” or “focusing on the pain too much.”
Now I honestly know how stupid that is– and if anything, hypermobile people are actually more likely to develop issues with chronic pain, because so many of our joints are wonky.
Now I’m armed with the right information, and not only can I help myself– I can help others.
So, if you feel alone– know that you are not.
I truly believe there are answers out there for all of you– whether that comes to SI joint issues or another problem.
You just have to have faith in yourself, and keep going.