The therapist has to do therapy! Being my own patient is the hardest thing I have been doing lately. Being accountable for what I thought was my sacral iliac joint, hip problems and numbness in leg for the past two and a half years has been a challenge. I struggled with trying to diagnose the pain I had been having in the front of my hip.
A spasm that happened when I walked or stood for any length of time was getting worse. I could not walk or stand more than 5 minutes without pain. I had this odd band of numbness around my knee as the pain worsened, and, weirdly, numbness in both my feet every morning. This went on for 6 months, and, then, gradually went away with corrections in my posture, core work and lots of biking. Then, I jumped off the front of a jet boat onto rocky beaches multiple times in a single weekend in October 2013. The pain returned with a vengence. I spent 2014 meeting my health insurance deductible and out of pocket maximum amounts in order to get to the bottom of my pain and leg numbness. X-rays, 2 MRI’s, multiple injections in my back, hip and a sacral nerve block, a recommendation for Lumbar fusion surgery, PT, hip arthroscopic surgery and some gentle chiropractics including graston technique, bought an inversion table and even, finally, had a breast reduction. This all happened in 2014.
I was able to sit, lift weights, swim, bike, and do core exercises, but I could not walk more than 5minutes. As a PT, I slowly ruled-out and treated or had treated the various problem issues that were keeping me from walking and standing. So many of the items listed above just helped temporarily. I knew the instability at my Lumbar level 3 was probably the source of the problem, but I did not actually have back pain in that area. Frustrated, that I was not getting much better, I seriously considered the neurosurgeon’s suggestion of a fusion. I was tired of not being able to walk and desperate to find a solution, but I was not ready to have surgery. I had other options.
I was doing all the right things with some progress. Then one day this past November I was walking in the pool at chest height and I did not have hip pain. I had an epiphany that maybe it really was time to have a breast reduction to decrease the load on my back. I was willing to do anything conservative to avoid surgery. So, I had a breast reduction on November 20th and had to lay low for 6 weeks. In the meantime I had bought an inversion table for unloading my degenerated unstable disc. After the 6 weeks, I started with inversion table or what I call “hang time”, and core conditioning specifically for my left pelvic, hip region and low back. I was tested for functional weakness. I learned the kinetic chain of control on my left side was poor.
Skiing is one of my passions and last season, I was okay as long as I did not hit any bumps or vibrations. This year, starting out was the same, but I just kept tightening my deep pelvic/ core muscles and squatted down more and I can ski pain free most of the day. Good ski mechanics uses lots of core muscles.
I waited a while before trying to walk more. I was used to leaning on a cart at Costco, sitting on a stool to cook in the kitchen, and avoided any back extension. Slowly, I started to walk more, stretching as I needed to and coming home to my inversion table. I believe the excess stress from the weight I carried on my chest, hang time and very specific retraining has got me to a good place. I walked 4 miles with stops for stretching my back and hip this past Saturday. From where I was, this was a tremendous achievement.
So, I believe that there were a few problems that crept up over the past couple years. I have systematically addressed them and now the symptoms are slowly resolving. I have to do my exercises about 5 times per week, or else I can feel the symptoms as my vertabrae drifts forward. When that happens I can feel the spasm in my hip from that L3 nerve being compressed. The more I do, the stronger I feel. This journey has been really tough, because I know what is good for me from a therapy standpoint, but sometimes I get frustrated, too.
Understanding the source of pain allows a therapist to really help get clients better, but it is the client that needs to be accountable for their long term health. So, I continue to do my therapy faithfully and I can see results. If you have a mystery pain like me, let’s talk about it. I welcome your comments…