Yes, I hurt my own self. That is bad English and it was/is a bad injury. I sustained a significant right medial gastrocnemius strain last week playing basketball. In my mind (see picture) it was a killer crossover, but I am sure it wasn’t. I would score it a grade II with no Achilles involvement. There was no imaging but the musculo-tendonous junction was most likely involved. There was severe pinpoint pain, swelling, and no bruising. Pain was 8/10 in WB and gait was limited. There were no neurologic issues. I was simply jogging in the lane, nothing explosive at the time. It must have cumulative. It was about 45 minutes into the exercise session. “You are too old to play basketball,” said almost everyone. This is why we have athletic trainers and physical therapists. Injuries happen.
I had no real warning. No pains or strains before the pull. I stretched before play. I do tend to be tight. I was not too aggressive. I was playing with other, older guys and we limited ourselves to one hour. We were trying to be appropriate. We were trying to get exercise without injury.
Now I get to go through everything my patients go through every day. I have been an athlete forever, so this is far from my first injury. But, this is my first I walking boot and a new reminder of the challenges orthopedic injuries present. Dressing, driving, showering, walking, and certainly working, now have new challenges.
I tried to manage it with a heel lift, street shoe, and a crutch but there was too much pain. I needed to get the muscle approximated to allow it to heal. Think of a cut on your arm. If the edges are touching, it will heal very well and very quickly. The same applies to torn muscle fibers, which a grade II strain includes. If you keep opening the cut or tweaking the injury, it either won’t heal or it will delay the process. I really wanted this to get better quickly. I quickly called an orthopedic PA friend of mine. He graciously saw me quickly and gave me the walking boot (see picture) with check up in 10 days. I avoided pain, took no steps without the boot, took the anti-inflammatory, and adjusted my work to limit WB time. Ice is my friend. I always say athletes are never far from their ice bag, now I am using my words.
I should be out the boot in the next 4 days. Pain is already less intense, more focal, and more infrequent. I am doing open chain range of motion daily. I started light hand tissue rolling. I may begin weight shifts this week. I will see the PA again and progress as tolerated.
My lesson however, is to not forget to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Whether it is your athlete, your coach, a parent, your patient, etc. We all have unique circumstances, even if they are not at first apparent. You will come off as more empathetic. I learned a lesson a long time ago: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
To be continued…
Kash Eagleton, DPT, SCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Sports Physical Therapy Specialist