It became part of my script. “I can’t because of my knee.” I was tired of the pain but more tired listening to myself. Two different doctors had told me that it was a matter of time before I needed a knee replacement. I could hear the crunching my knee made when I ran, walked or attempted a squat. Physical therapy, massage and multiple cortisone injections over the years became bandages without sticking power. As much as my bum knee was getting in the way of my life, something was holding me back from undergoing a replacement. It was a friend who first suggested Myofascial Therapy.
What is Myofascial Therapy?
Myofascial “release” is hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. My physician came highly recommended and specialized in pain management, specifically MPS—Myofascial Pain Syndrome, which occurs when a muscle group, ligament, or tendon is strained or injured. Pain in cases of MPS can occur in one area or travel throughout the body resulting in referred pain. After an initial examination, I was surprised to learn that the muscle on the outside of my thigh, (the vastus lateralis) was a large contributor to my knee pain. The knee pain, in his opinion, was referred pain. As he pressed on the side of my femur, I found myself wincing in pain. I admitted that I was not the best at stretching before or after exercise, but even stretching daily wouldn’t alleviate what he described as a tight band of knots across my thigh.
To break apart the knots, the Dr. used a technique known as “Dry Needling”: inserting a dry needle into the tightest points within muscular tissue—the places that are responsible for producing and referring pain. In my case, there were 13 sites where the needle was inserted directly into the muscle, each stab seemingly more painful than the next. And then it was over. The whole process took ten minutes.
Worth the Pain?
It’s been three weeks since the dry needling procedure and my knee feels a lot better. I have resumed my workouts and have been able to ride the Peloton and run short distances without pain. My thigh still feels sore, which is not something I anticipated. When reading about the side effects, I read that this can happen. There is frustrating, given that there wasn’t pain there before. But I remain hopeful that when that subsides, I will be as good as new. The underlying osteoarthritis in my knee still exists. But if I can put off surgery for a few more years with regular trigger point injection therapy, I’ll suffer through the momentary pain of the needle for the pleasure of having a working knee.