Joe checked me out, asked a ton of questions, and gave me four stretching exercises to do twice a day. He had me do the first set of the day while I was at the clinic so he could show me how to do them correctly.
I like Joe.
And once again, I have to say that I like my VA health care. Joe the PT has to be one of the most empathetic people I’ve ever met. (Either that, or he’s a fabulous faker!) When I told him how long I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis (23 years) he winced. When I explained that my hip bursitis has not only worsened over the last several weeks, but that it’s attacking both hips, his eyes widened and he gasped. There was nothing histrionic about his reactions; he simply, truly, cared.
I said that this bursitis has really been a pain in the butt. Joe grinned. “Literally,” he said.
Did I say I like Joe?
My right hip is stiffer and has less range of motion than the left. I figure that this is because of the RA, which used to attack that hip joint with great intensity. My rheumatologist has tested the range of motion in that hip, had x-rays taken and subsequently discounted any problem with it, but today, as I was attempting one of the exercises, it was clear that I couldn’t easily move that hip in the required way. I could move it, but it was far more difficult than it was on the other side. And, to my dismay, I discovered that using my left hand to help pull my right hip toward my left shoulder (while laying on my back) was a problem, too. My left hand immediately yelled with pain over the stress.
And so, Joe got a towel and we looped it around my knee, and grasping the two ends, I was able to use my left hand to pull my hip into position. Why it was easier and less painful to grasp that towel in my hand rather that my knee is a mystery to me. But it was. Amazing.
After the session with Joe, my hips became much more sore. He said to expect that for a while, since the idea here is to stretch the tendon that slides over the greater trochanteric bursae (hip bursae) so that it doesn’t get so irritated and inflamed. In hip bursitis, it seems that not only are the bursae themselves inflamed (in my case, because of RA); that tendon is, too. It gets sore and tight, and stretching it out will, in time, relieve the pain.
The exercises will also help to strengthen several of the muscles that move the hip.
I did them all again tonight, one set of repetitions of each exercise on each side. OMG. Ow, ow, OW! It’s funny, because the exercises themselves weren’t painful, nor was stretching the tendons. What hurt was laying on my side on the carpeted floor—which meant laying directly on my badly inflamed, really aggravated hip bursae. And now, as I sit up in bed, laptop computer on my lap, my hips and butt are killing me. I’ve iced both hips, as instructed, and took some tramadol a little while ago. With luck, they’ll calm down enough for me to sleep soon.
I’ll be seeing Joe again on the 30th of this month. He’ll check my progress, and said he’d probably give me a cylindrical-shaped foam roller that I can use to massage that tendon and bursae. We tried it today; it was painful, but I could manage it. Joe said we’ll wait until that tendon stretches a bit and, hopefully, I’m having less bursitis pain.
I’ll be seeing the pain doc again on the 28th. If this current pain isn’t better by then, I’m going to request another round of steroid injections, a different kind of pain medication, and something to help me sleep at night. I’m convinced that I’ll be able to handle the pain of this bursitis better if I can get more sleep. Four or five interrupted sleep hours a night just isn’t doing the job.
I’m hurting like hell tonight, but I’m still hopeful. And I like Joe.