Listening to Your Body: When the Ultrasound and the X-ray Are Not Enough

Did you get hurt? Feeling that there is something out of place? Any unusual pain? Go to the doctor, see a physical therapist, but above all, seek the opinion of a professional. The body is the only property that you really own, it is really yours and it cannot be replaced. Do not play the superhero, as in life, different from the movies, we do not have stunt performers for the toughest scenes.

About eight months ago I seriously hurt my shoulder while following a heavy (and unnecessary) training routine, working on the development of muscle-ups, a very technical gymnastic movement.

It was on a Monday morning, while performing a simple strict pull-up that I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder for the first time, from that moment on, this pain started bothering me in almost every upper body movement I tried.

The first solution was giving rest to my whole body, but that was not enough, as I could not accept that I was really injured and more than once pushed through the pain.

Then I started using ice, which greatly eased the pain (even though the cause for it remained unknown), and after leaving some training sessions feeling really disappointed with my poor performance, I even tried anti-inflammatory medication.

With the reduction of pain, I tried to return to regular physical training, but then I found out that without the drugs the pain was getting even worse, since anti-inflammatory drugs tend to reduce the symptoms (inflammation), but do not cure the cause of the problem (the injury itself).

Finally, after months, I decided to go to the doctor who asked me for an MRI of the shoulder. Days later I got back to him with the results and he explained that the injury (SLAP: Tear of the Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior) should be corrected by surgery if I really wanted to go back to normal shoulder activity including pulling actions. At the time, I felt motivated to go under surgery, since I believe in what he explained to me on that day: Some cartilage and joints of our body, once damaged never return to be the way they were before.

But after a few days, analyzing better, I decided to wait a little longer. I realized it was worth giving up on the pain causing movements during the workouts, rather than exposing my shoulder to surgery; the same shoulder that as my mother would say "was once delivered in perfect conditions".

Weeks later, after choosing not to go under surgery something happened: The pain in my shoulder was gone, I slowly saw myself going back to my regular rhythm of training, and even back to training the muscle-up! But then, what is the explanation? Miracle? Nope. Even Science is able to explain it.

When we use MRIs and x-rays to analyze vertebrae, bones and joints, it is common to find abnormalities and asymmetries. These characteristics might look out of the ordinary by the eyes of the patients, making them believe that they are "broken", when in fact many of these anomalies have always been part of the normal functioning of their bodies.

The fact that a side of the your hips might be protected by a thinner cartilage on one side than on the other; finding out that a knee has an apparent damage in one of the ligaments; or even that our spine look more like a herniated discs factory, as well as a perfect portrait of what scoliosis means, are not enough to diagnose the overall cause of our pain, injury or movement dysfunction.

Visiting an orthopedist who can help us in the diagnosis may be the best alternative, but counting also on other professionals' second opinion, including physical therapists, seems to be a wise attitude in order to not taking hasty decisions.

There are many doctors who will not think twice before putting their clients under surgery, as well as many physiotherapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and coaches who will do anything to convince us that the solution offered by them is the most reasonable. Each of them will fight for their own beliefs as they are guided by different areas of ​​expertise.

Still it is up to us to decide what the best way forward is. I chose to wait a little longer, as my doctor was very candid in explaining that the surgery recovery would be slow, the results are not 100% guaranteed and that I can still hurt myself in the same spot in the future.

I do believe that surgeries are necessary sometimes, but many of us could benefit or even completely heal by taking adequate rest, basic body movements correction, muscle strengthening, postural re-education, physical therapy, acupuncture and results based nutrition, all of that without the need of getting to the extreme of surgery.

Above all, talk and listen to your body, after all no college, mastering degree, or university would be enough to give someone more control and knowledge over your well-being than you already own by inhabiting it every day. Your body is unique. Nobody is the same. Enjoy your individuality.

Keep Strong. May Every Scar Be A Window For Learning.