Climbing aboard the PT Boat

Today was my second physical therapy appointment for my numb right foot. Of course, this meant that when I woke up my foot felt fine for a few hours. I drove to the appointment because the temperature was dropping almost as fast as the wind was howling. Along the way, my foot became number than it has been in weeks.

At the PT place, the therapist I saw last week, put my right foot, now back to its usual numbness, through various gentle twists and turns. The working theory is that a big nerve in my foot has been damaged or is entrapped. The gentle twists and turns of my foot, ankle, calf, and entire leg are attempts to address this.The technique is actually called nerve flossing. I didn’t notice much difference. I was handed off to another therapist who gave me a number of exercises to do that seemed simple but actually were not all that easy, if done correctly.

Most of the exercises were designed to address my lower back and core strength to deal with the possiblity that my problem was related to my back. The doctor had alread ruled this out but the first PT person said that it’s possible that the EMG test was done when the nerve was not fully misbehaving, and thereby led to a false assesment.

I was doing fine, partly because many of the exercises were variations on the PT I routinely do for my back and core and on the yoga poses I do. Two exercises were particularly notable. First, I was doing something called the pointing dog. It involves kneeling on all fours and extending your right arm and left leg while squeezing your stomach and butt. Nearly all the exercises involved squeezing core and butt so by the time I got to the pointing dog my stomach and butt were pretty much all squeezed out. When I did the exercise my numbness in my right foot untensified and spread from below my ankle to pretty much my entire foot. Instead of numbing it was now tingling. We modified the exercise and made a note.

The second exercise that seemed to be fruitful was using a lacrosse ball to knead the muscles in my calves, my quadriceps and my hanstrings. This had no discernable effect on my hams or quads, but it hurt like hell on my calves. Each calf was all knots of tight muscles. Ah ha!

Of course, I have no idea if this has anything to do with my numb foot but it was interesting none the less. I go back next week for two more PT sessions. In the meantime, I am reconsidering rolfing, because it seems as if it might involve the kind of deep muscle massage that the lacrosse ball is getting at. A friend of mine highly recommends a rolfer in DC. Once I close the loop with the neurologist at the end of the month, I may give the rolfer a call.

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