I’d like to tell you a bit about one of our clients who finished her physical therapy a few weeks ago. Pam, aged 54, of Las Cruces came to us about 6 weeks back. She had been out in her garden trying to keep ahead of the forest of weeds coming on after one of those heavy summer rains. One of the bigger weeds was especially confident that it could keeps it’s roots in the ground, so she gave it an especially strong pull and BAM! - immediate onset of back pain, along with a burning, searing shock all the way down her right leg to the foot. Pam barely made it into the house, and eventually found some relief lying face down flat on her bed.
After many days of pain and difficulty moving - one friend told her to rest even longer - Pam decided to see her doctor, who sent her to us. [She didn’t actually have to see her doctor first, but that can wait for another day.] It didn’t take much time for her physical therapist to identify the problem. It seems that she suffered a bad strain of the muscles in her low back, and there may have also been some involvement of a disk there as well. It didn’t take too much time to get the muscles to calm down, though she continued to have the shooting down the leg anytime she spent to much time sitting, and driving in the car was awful! This was a big problem since Pam works in El Paso, so that hour-long drive didn’t help matters any. What’s more, Pam spends much of her time in her garden, and the weeds were getting higher! She so much wanted to get back in there and tend to her beans and tomatoes.
The fun part about practicing as a physical therapist is that very often, pain onset and relief is tied to body position. We change positions, and the presence or absence of pain in those positions tells us a lot about what structures in the body are involved in the problem. But Pam didn’t care about that! “JUST GET ME BACK IN MY GARDEN” she said. Well, we sorted out the problem, and got her started on a daily program focused on reducing her pain. It was a bit of a challenge, as the drive to work bumped up her symptoms a lot, but we worked with her on her position in the car, as well as some simple movements to do before and after she got to work.
It didn't take much time before Pam was feeling a lot better, and at the end of the treatment period not only was Pam in the garden (bending and lifting the right way, I might add), but she was also doing the right stretches and exercises each day. They don’t take a lot of time, and she says that they help her feel limber and warmed up for the day.
Pam called me the other day and told me how thankful she was that she didn’t listen to one friend’s advice to just stay home and rest. She said that she’d never been to physical therapy before, and before this really didn’t understand what PT is all about, but now she understands that her PT was completely focused on getting her back into her garden.