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An Interview with Bill Parravano, The Knee Pain Guru
Click the Play button above to listen. Below we have excerpts from the conversation.
My clinical background had a less than glamorous beginning.
There was no intention of going in this direction back when I first injured my knee. The journey essentially started with the dislocating of my left knee four times doing things I love like skiing, judo, volleyball, and softball between December of 1998 and May of 1999. At that point I thought, “Maybe I should go see a doctor to find out what’s going on with my knee?”
It didn’t make sense all of a sudden finding myself screaming on the ground clutching my knee. This wasn’t what I had envisioned for my life.
My Knee Surgery
At the time, I lived in Louisville, Kentucky. I went to the best orthopedic surgeon I could find. His name is Dr. John Ellis. He works for the University of Louisville sports teams. All of the basketball and football players for the Louisville Cardinals would go to see him. I go to Dr. Ellis and I’m thinking he might tell me something good. He did one of those tests, where he tugged and twisted my knee to test the ligaments. He put my leg back down on the examination table and said, “Bill, we could do an MRI, but it’d be a waste of money. You tore the ligament in your left knee, your ACL.”
I had this sinking feeling in my stomach, as if the world just ended. My main love was judo and I loved throwing people. That was my deal. That’s all I wanted to do and was really disheartened. Up to that point I never had a major surgery. It took a moment to digest what was going on. I said, “Okay, when’s the soonest we can do this?”
That was just a very low point in my life.
After the surgery I started physical therapy. Dr. Ellis told me, “As soon as your left knee is within 80% of the strength of the right knee, I’ll give you the green light for normal activities.”
My Recovery Goal
My goal, the finish line, 80%. That’s all I need to get; I can test my quad strength on their machines. I’m working my butt off, I’m going to physical therapy three times a week, religiously. I’m doing the exercises, doing exactly what Dr. Ellis and the physical therapist tell me. When I go for the last appointment with Dr. Ellis before he’s finally ready to release me and says, “Okay, great. I’ll get you set up with the DonJoy® rep to get you fitted for a titanium knee brace.”
My Life at 29 Years Old
This was not what I thought life was going to look like after the surgery, and the doctor “fixed” what was wrong with my knee. This was the finish line for the conventional medical model and where my journey began to heal my knee. I needed to find what’s going to work, because I just couldn’t accept the fact my body was going to feel stiff and achy the rest of my life. I was compensating in my hips and lower back, and get fatigued and tired. My legs would get exhausted by mid to late morning. I didn’t sleep well at all. The knee didn’t feel like it belonged to me. This ultimately led to a new path which changed the direction and course of my life. To study and learn how to get my knee back to “normal.”
I was 29 at the time and I felt like I was in my eighties. Exhausted and sweating most of the time. Just going up the steps was a challenge. It was not a pretty sight.
At that point I knew ‘there’s gotta be something better than this. This can’t be it.’
Early Education – Ortho-Bionomy
I started studying, going to classes and different weekend workshops in the Louisville, KY area trying to figure this “thing” out. Things really got interesting when I found myself in a new seminar and the instructor said “Ortho-Bionomy is an osteopathically based style of body work that was developed by a British osteopath who was also a judo instructor and took judo principles applying it to an original osteopathic concept, developing an entire entire style of body work.”
My Journey Begins, Knee Pain Guru Early Days
That started a tremendous journey for me, one that still continues to this day. The concepts and principles I began learning in the Ortho-Bionomy workshops were essentially the cornerstone of the program I’ve developed. Starting in the beginning of 2000, I traveled the world for two and a half years studying Ortho-Bionomy. I became certified as a practitioner, both in the United States and Europe as well as an instructor in the United States.
Seeing Clients One-on-One
I started seeing clients one-on-one at the end of 2002 and helped them with knee, hip, neck, back,and shoulder pain as well as diagnoses like carpal tunnel, herniated discs, you name it. My clients would get great results, but I wanted to make a bigger impact. In 2007 I came across an internet business model and in 2008 I started selling my eBooks and coaching clients remotely.
I have a long background in martial arts. Started training in Judo in 1990 at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Oh. and continued after moving to Louisville, KY in 1996 until I blew out my knee in 1998. I took a sabbatical due to the fact I couldn’t really walk. After the knee surgery and the physical therapy I got back into Judo. That’s when I came across, the Russian martial art, Systema.
Systema is taught in the Russian Special Forces, the KGB, and the spies in terms of a military application. There is a gentleman in Toronto, Ontario named Vladimir Vasiliev, who was teaching this style of martial arts. There was something about it that completely hooked me because it was so different than Judo. It didn’t focus on technique, ground fighting or standing. It focused on movement, breathing, relaxation, and building the tendon, ligament, and structural strength of the body, all based on very basic principles.
Coming into Focus
It was about 2000, I began studying Systema and everything it had to offer. I studied the breath-work, the movement and what Systema had to offer. I was completely enthralled in that. At the same time I was studying Ortho-Bionomy.
And ultimately that’s how the Knee Pain Guru came about.
Today we live in a fast-paced society. People suffering in pain want results ‘yesterday’ and their knees out of pain quickly. I can help them either coming from the angle of comfort with Ortho-Bionomy principles or the perspective of Systema teaching them how to strengthen their tendons and ligaments and breath to relax their nervous system.
It’s all about Nerve Irritation
I look at the body through the lens of the nervous system, where the source of all pain originates. Nerve irritation causes pain and thereby restricted range of motion. The nervous system tenses up to protect itself. That’s the conversation which needs to be had with anyone suffering from pain.
I don’t care what the diagnosis is. I don’t care how long they’ve been in pain. It doesn’t matter how much trauma their body has been through. It all goes down to a neurological signal which needs to be relaxed at the source of the pain in order for the body’s healing capabilities to come online. That’s the conversation that we need to have. When everyone is having only the conversation about strengthening the legs to get rid of pain, they are already having the wrong conversation.
I’ve created many videos over the past 11 years in a member’s area of my website. When I interact with clients, they let me know what’s going on with their knees right now. Based on what they share with me gives me an indication of which videos will give them the most relief in their knee right now.
I have hundreds of highly specialized Knee Pain Guru videos. Interacting with patients allows me to understand what the client needs to experience relief. I’d direct them to specific videos, “Work with Modules 1, 2, and 40 based on what you’re telling me is going on with your knee today right now. Do those and the next time we check in let me know what you notice.”
Pain Pattern Interrupts
Custom Protocols: I refer to them as “Pain Pattern Interrupts.” Work with these specific modules and the next time we meet let me know what you notice. Did the pain move? Did the pain change, and did you notice anything? Is the pain worse? All of this is valuable feedback for me to understand what you were noticing/not noticing and what needs to happen to course-correct to get you back your body back on track. By relieving the pain in the body allows it to heal itself in the shortest period of time.
Coaching takes place on the phone in the United States, or Skype on international calls. I work with clients around the world and call them at a mutually convenient scheduled time. This is when they tell me what’s going on, we both ask questions to get clarity, and I give them homework in be incorporated seamlessly into their busy lives. Sometimes there are sticking points and their feedback is crucial to help me understand what needs to happen to get them “unstuck.”
Group Coaching – The Knee Pain Guru
The group coaching, called “Knee Club,” takes place in a private Facebook group and meets twice per week on Mondays and Thursdays. Where I do a similar type of coaching as the private clients receive. Knee Club members get access to the same videos, can type in questions and give feedback 24/7 in the Facebook Group however responses are given during the times of the “Knee Club” scheduled calls.
Lynn’s Baker’s Cyst
Client Case Study: Lynn had a Bakers Cyst and had been suffering for over eight months. She tried having it drained and her doctor was talking about surgery to remove it. Lynn joined “Knee Club” to get some relief. We worked together for three weeks and her body resolved the Baker’s Cyst in that time.
When we align ourselves with our body’s ability to heal and get out of the way the body can heal itself very quickly! Once we set everything up, all we need to do is get out of the way, which is exactly what Lynn did. This Baker’s Cyst that she had been suffering with for months, resolved itself in a matter of weeks. No needles, no surgery or anything like that.
The Psychological Side of Recovery
It’s important to bring to the table the psychological component chronic pain has on people. Chronic pain absolutely wears down people’s resolve as well as their will to live. It has a huge effect on the feelings of depression, self-worth, and our ability to stand in the world as a man or woman. Knee pain especially, has a huge effect like this. Lots of times we can resolve the physical pain, yet other ripples pain has on a person’s life still exist. There are many people that choose to experience the benefits of being a “Knee Club” member after their pain has gone away because we can work on other challenges life presents. This is where many member understand why this is a journey NOT a destination.
Surgeons and Physical Therapists
My recommendation is: “don’t be like me and dislocate your left knee four times before going to a doctor.” “We have to turn on the lights in the living room before we can straighten it up in, in order to develop a clear strategy to move forward.”This is true in “Knee Club,” Private coaching or anything else in life for that matter.
You have to understand what you’re dealing with first and education is part of what the Knee Pain Guru education process is about. I think there is a place and a time for every procedure the medical model has to offer.
Knee Surgeries – a wholistic approach: It often starts with the conversation a patient has with their surgeon. Most of the time the doctor is only looking at the knee joint and considering the manipulation to gain range of motion, a knee replacement surgery, a surgery in general, the drug, the shot, the physical therapy which is very narrow in scope. What needs to happen is a much broader conversation which looks at the person as a whole and from a business perspective the conventional medical model is just not setup like that.
A Surgeon’s Approach, My Approach
Often times surgeons look at a patient’s problem purely from a mechanical perspective only looking at the anatomy and physiology of the body. “Structure governs function” and a key part of healing is making sure the body’s structure is in place first it’s just not enough for those who have been suffering with chronic pain for months, years, and sometimes decades.
I take a step back and look at the patterns the client is sharing with me and plug that into the client as a whole. Then and only then we can get to work on solving the root of the problem.
To learn more visit The Knee Pain Guru. For more episodes of The Bee’s Knees Podcast click here.