Hey folks!

As you’ve no doubt noticed, my posts went from regular to nonexistent. What gives? Well, it all started on a dark and rainy night 3  days before Christmas. I was doing my regular commute home from work an I was halfway home. I had begun my departure – by bike – from the Staten Island Ferry terminal and as I was pedaling up the hill my bike slipped out from under me and I smacked the pavement. I was unscraped, but I felt a slight pain in my wrist and I figured that I had sprained it. After getting home, I took an old hemp sock and soaked it with the rest of the wood lock oil I had left and then kept attached it to the wound so as to help the sprain. The next day my hand wasn’t looking that great. It was very swollen and it hurt, man! Well, I knew from reading A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth that the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) was only half-true. Elevation (to prevent swelling) and rest are good, but compression and ice restrict blood flow to the area. Here’s a copy and paste from the book (much thanks to Simona for typing this out, since my copy of the book is out on loan!)

RICE TREATMENT

The Western treatment for reducing this kind of inflammation is known as “RICE“: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It is usually recommended that RICE begin in the first 24 hours after the injury.

  • Rest is obvious. Continued activity may further inflame and irritate the injury.
  • Ice contracts the blood vessels in the local area, reducing swelling. It reduces pain and cools the heat of the inflammation. In Western medicine, ice is universally recommended for all kind of inflammation, including that present in chronic injuries. In Chinese medicine, it is almost never used and is considered a culprit in joint injuries that don’t heal properly, because cold causes contraction of the muscles and tends to freeze and congeal the fluids that cause swelling, ultimately preventing their complete re-absorption.
  • Compression limits swelling. Usually an elastic bandage is wrapped around the injured area to compress the tissues, thereby limiting blood flow into the area. This is contrary to Chinese medicine, where such constriction is felt to cause blood to stagnate and congeal above and below the injury. This slow re-absorption into the blood vessels.
  • Elevation involves simply raising the injured part above the level of the heart to let the force of gravity aid in draining excess fluid. This method is also employed in Chinese sports medicine.

CONTRAST BATHS

Once inflammation and swelling are reduced, treatment is directed at restoring movement and circulation to the injured area through gentle movement and exercise. Sometimes after the first 24 to 28 hours of RICE, when the swelling has stabilized, contrast baths (alternating hot and cold baths) are recommended. Contrast baths cause an alternating contraction and dilation of blood vessels in the local area, which serves to pump blood and fluids through the injured tissue. This helps restore normal circulation to the local area.

LIMITS OF RICE TREATMENT

This mechanical approach that Western medicine used to diagnose and treat ankle sprains is useful in many ways similar to Chinese medicine, but beyond RICE, it doesn’t give the athlete many tools to work with in rehabilitating an injury, and it leaves many questions unanswered:

  • Why do some sprains heal while others do not?
  • Why does one athlete quickly shake off an injury and return to his or her sport while another athlete with the same injury is caught in a cycle of chronic pain and re-injury?
  • Why do some fractures and sprains hurt more in damp or cold weather?
  • Why do some injuries become arthritic in later life while others do not?

Fortunately, Chinese medicine provides clear, concise answers to these kinds of questions and offers a host of treatments for different injuries. We will see them later.

I don’t have a conventional Doctor that I see, since I only use Western medicine when it’s an emergency, so I went to my acupuncturist, Dr. Fu Zhang. He gave me a look when he saw how swollen it was and then treated me. A week later I went in for a second treatment to address some nerve compression in the area as well as some pain I was still feeling in a small part of the wrist. After another week, there was no improvement in the pain, so I was forced to get an X-ray. That’s when I was hit with the facts: I fractured my scaphoid. The scaphoid is a small, fickle bone in the wrist. It’s the most common bone affected in wrist injuries (60% I believe) and it’s also a very fickle little bone. Little scaphoid is fickle because it doesn’t get a lot of blood flow and it has a tendency to heal back incorrectly if not adjusted through orthopedic surgery. Guess who went for surgery for the first time in his life? This guy!

Due to this, it’s been difficult to write new articles (my hand is in a cast and it’ll be in a brace for 2 or 3 months after that). There is a silver lining, however. I’ll be using this extra down time to work hard on these nutrition classes I keep talking about in my newsletter (an in-depth discussion of food, food groups, and lots of debunking!). So, bear with the silence here while I heal and I promise that the wait will be worth it. You will notice that within this update, there is some educational material. See what I did there? 😉

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