I spent the last few months doing a remedial course in physical therapy. My walking had become quite difficult, fortunately not painful, and my gait was unsteady. Walking had become a dreaded chore and I was so dependent on my cane for stability it called for intervention or I would soon be needing a walker. So back to neuro-rehabilitation physical therapy I went. Admittedly, I’m not always true to the homework assignments of what I should do when I’m not working with the therapist, but this time around I have put the extra effort into doing what I can to make an improvement in my walking and not just hoping for progress.
I have also spent that time talking over and over to my therapists about how my walking just felt off and that my left leg obviously must be affected by the multiple sclerosis, and perhaps spasticity was causing more of my problems than originally thought. That leg felt as if it were drawn up and wouldn’t extend properly.We all know about the dreaded hip flexor problem many people with MS experience.
More than once I’ve confessed to my readers that I can be a slow learner –what might be obvious to others can sometimes take a crazy longer time for it to register with me. And that’s what happened AGAIN – it took me months and months to have that mental light bulb lit and the ‘AH HA!’ moment that I was perhaps pursuing the wrong cure for my problem. But I wasn’t alone –my medical team was also not seeing the obvious.
It's easy to blame MS
You see it is so easy to blame the MS on everything, especially when it comes to the problems of walking, and I had fallen into that trap again. After consulting with several therapists in the groups I go to, it was decided I might benefit from going to a chiropractor to be evaluated. It didn’t take much for the chiropractor to declare – ‘your hips are out of alignment’ and start the process of manipulating me back into the proper position. It turns out my hip was out about 1.5 inches and that was making the difference in my ability to walk. The longer I let the problem go, the worse and more tight all of those muscles became and the shorter my leg would seem to be. My hips were so off balance it felt as if I was walking on the side of the mountain with one leg always longer than the other.
What was the origin on my hip problem? Most likely from all the orthopedic issues on my left foot, and the need to wear those crazy black ortho shoes- it’s impossible to match their sole height with a shoe on the other foot and I always end up walking off kilter.
Ultimately, I share the question - what was MiSsing from my problem? Most probably my MS. All of us were so busy assuming that the MS was causing the bulk of my issues with walking that we stopped looking at other possible sources. It’s a common problem when we have a chronic disease and immediately assume our MS is the source of all of our health issues. While I have spasticity and hip flexor tightness, it has not been enough to cause the problems I have experienced.
Jumping to conclusions
Jumping to the MS conclusion reminds me of a story from a good friend. She awoke one morning, put on her glasses, and was immediately gripped with panic as she realized her vision in one eye was completely blurred, and being a smart person (also a doctor) she was sure it was most likely an attack of optic neuritis. It wasn’t until later when she took off her glasses to clean them that she realized one lens had fallen out. Her experience is the perfect example of how it isn’t always MS, and I can now add my example to the list.
Wishing you well,
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