It’s not that I thought it was particularly ironic that I would be suffering a significant pain problem as a physician and former pain specialist, but I could not figure out why it had developed when I was continuing to work with my personal trainer, Marco Day, throughout the COVID lockdown. It just didn’t make sense.
I knew enough to say it wasn’t just one cause, but knowing that it likely had multiple causes did not help me determine where to begin. Over the winter and spring of 2021, I became increasingly despondent because of back pain that became more chronic and less intermittent. It started in the sacroiliac area and slowly involved a sciatic distribution down the right lateral thigh and lower leg. I went to bed with it and woke up with it. All movements except walking made it worse or were very painful. Marco gently backed away from exercises he thought might be making the pain worse and started mentioning someone at RVC that had been successful at treating other clients of his. I wanted to make sure, however, that I was medically evaluated, which took 3 months to accomplish.
The neurosurgeon I saw agreed that the problem was multifactorial. I had a nerve impingement, where an old disc herniation was putting pressure on the nerve that sends signals to the leg. While surgery that opens up the spinal hole to make room for the nerve may have helped some of the pain, she suggested we make sure that was the source of the problem. She suggested that I first try a diagnostic block by the Pain Clinic to help verify this as the cause. A diagnostic block is one where medicine is injected into a certain spot; if the pain subsides following the injection, it indicates that the spot is the source of the pain. While I was waiting for the diagnostic block, the pain down my leg subsided, so the block would no longer be informative. I canceled the appointment and instead requested an SI joint injection to see if that was a source of the pain in the sacroiliac area.
I continued in daily pain, becoming more irritable and despondent. I couldn’t do the activities that I enjoyed, like gardening or bird watching; I couldn’t even turn over in bed without discomfort. While I was waiting for the SI joint injection, Marco again strongly suggested that I consider seeing Dr. Gregory Shea at Precision Osteopractic Physical Therapy. I made the appointment out of sheer desperation and frustration. I was wary and particularly skeptical of dry needling because I had been sensitive to acupuncture needling in the past.
However, since I was desperate, I decided to give it a chance. The dry needling procedure was initially uncomfortable, but there was some change in the pain after the first treatment and over the next two days the pain was markedly diminished. I was secretly thrilled but afraid it wouldn’t last.
In between sessions I was given exercises to strengthen the gluteus medius and minimus as well as the deep muscles along the spine. They were difficult because I was so weak.
Long story short, I was basically pain-free by week two.
Since then I have completed 8 sessions and I continue to do my prescribed exercises along with continuing to work with Marco twice a week.
As a pain specialist, I worked with a lot of therapists and explored many treatments for chronic pain. Precision Osteopractic offered both pain relief and, most importantly, a way forward to eliminate recurrence. The team approach of a personal trainer and physical therapy intervention in a willing subject was a successful combination.
I’m grateful to have been gardening this past summer, bending, and turning over in bed with minimal or no discomfort. Pain can be a life changer and I’ve found that most people want both an explanation and a way forward.
There are many ways to achieve “an explanation” but the way forward is so reliant on the skill and intuition of the therapist and the willingness of the patient to play a role in self-care. In this situation, I was fortunate to have all three components to find my relief and I am so very thankful.
Margaret Caudill-Slosberg, RVC Member since 2018.
Head to www.PrecisionOPT.com to schedule your appointment at Precision Osteopractic, conveniently located on the ground floor of the RVC. To schedule a visit with Marco or any of our personal trainers, please email us at ContactUs@RiverValleyClub.com.