The Bus Driver with PTS
By Edward Meiggs BHSc
A bus driver came to see me for complaints of right shoulder and neck pain. He reported that this problem had been worsening over the last several months. He had gone to see his general practitioner who prescribed a popular muscle relaxant. But, as he was a public transportation driver he was unable take this prior to work. He said that recently the tightness and tenderness was causing a pulling sensation while operating his bus. The driver did admit that the muscle relaxer helped at night, but soreness returned in the morning and was worse throughout the day. He denied memory of injury to this shoulder. He came to see me because his provider told him to try bodywork, and a friend suggested acupressure.
Physical examination of the shoulder revealed no signs of trauma or palpable injury. Range of motion demonstrated normal symmetry in movement. He was found to have equal grip and strength. His pull was level and without drift. Windmill showed slight deviation from left, his complaint arm had a better reach in zenith. I found no abnormal physiology.
Meridian assessment in the affected shoulder area yielded signs of qi blockage in the St and SI acupoints. When asked how his stomach had been behaving, the man reported with a surprised voice, that he had been suffering from an upset stomach since his brother had died recently, he attributed this to eating through his grief. The bus driver reported that his brother, younger than the he, passed away several months before due to lung cancer. Upon further questioning he did admit that the pain in his shoulder started after his brother's passing, as well as a sudden increase in food consumption. But he failed to see how, other than stress from work, this loss could cause his shoulder pain.
I questioned him at length regarding his relationship with his brother. His brother and him seemed to have a normal relationship with little variance. His brother was 1 ½ years younger and always followed his lead. He was quieter and less curious about life than the driver. The younger brother had gotten married first while the bus driver was off in the Navy. These thoughts made him tearful and he remarked how unfair it was that his younger brother was taken from him. Their relationship had remained close through the years. When asked for a memorable story from growing up he told me the following;
“When I was 8, my brother and I collected a bunch of scrap wood from the wood pile behind the barn and gathered some pieces of lumber sticks from the Amish mill down the lane. We had found a perfect tree in which to build a tree fort. This tree was way down the field behind the house, right at the edge of a cornfield. There was a little stream there in the ditch that ran between the field and fence. We borrowed a hammer, nails and hand saw from dads shop and spent all that hot summer day building a tree fort way up in that old tree. When we were finished the pride and happiness made us ecstatic. Well, we were jumping up and down in this tree-house and high-fiving each other when my brother fell, I grabbed hold of his arm and had a grip for a moment. Just then Mom called us to dinner. Startled, my hand slipped and he fell. He ended up with a broken collarbone and we were not allowed back in the tree house that summer. I also received a good whipping for using Dad's tools without permission.”
Further questioning revealed that he had attempted to arrest his brother's fall with his right hand, and that he could almost feel the strain of trying to hold on to his brother while telling his story. "Now that you mention it," he said. The bus driver did remember faintly that his arm and shoulder hurt, but must be nothing compared to what his brother had been suffering. His brother who had fractured his right collarbone and spent most of the summer in a brace. Thus reminding our bus driver daily of the incident as they shared a room together, and he had to help his brother on and off with the brace daily for bathing.
I spoke with him of tissue memory and of the psychoneuroimmunology affects by such a sudden loss. I explained my belief that a form of Post Traumatic Stress had occurred in his shoulder, as no injury was apparent. After some further elementary deductions he was given Causticum to take until his shoulder started to give up its Post Traumatic Stress symptoms, then to cease taking the remedy and allow healing to occur.
Eight days later the bus driver called back to tell me that his shoulder had no pain or stiffness and he no longer had any soreness in the morning. He also stated that he felt less upset in the stomach, and no longer finds himself at the refrigerator or in the cookie jar while thinking of his brother. He even reported the loss of a few pounds.
April 24, 2012
Edward Meiggs BHSc