Getting to Root Cause of my Injury

My body has been all jacked up.  My husband called it “overworking” but I vehemently disagreed with him – until recently. I enjoy being active and moving my body, and when I could not do things like sit or stand for an extended period of time without pain, I knew there was something else going on – and it has been for years.  And I don’t think it’s entirely caused by my active lifestyle.

My symptoms have been low back pain, and glute and hamstring tightness.  I first visited an orthopedic doctor two years ago who diagnosed me with piriformis syndrome.  The solution, he said, was 6 weeks off running, a cortisone injection, and physical therapy for strengthening the weak side.  I passed on the cortisone and reluctantly took a break from running and attended PT sessions.  None of these helped, so I got back into running after 6 weeks.  More time passed, the pain persisted, and I found myself visiting a chiropractor who also treated me for piriformis syndrome.  For the next several years, I followed a regimen of chiropractic treatment, dry needling, and massage therapy.  Lather, rinse, repeat. And despite asking each practitioner about “root cause”, I never had any answers that made sense.  I should have been more insistent.  But this is the way medicine in America works – everyone wants a quick fix and the usually get that by treating the symptoms.

What I really wanted though was for someone to really listen to me, look at me holistically, and watch for clues when I move.  When I heard about the approach of Total Motion PT in Raleigh, I thought I’d give them a try.  The PT seems to offer exactly what I have been searching for, but I was extremely skeptical.

At my first appointment, Chip watched me move, took measurements around how high I could lift my leg and how many degrees I could twist my body.  He listened to me explain where I felt pain or stiffness when I moved and then offered a diagnosis that seemed to make sense to me.  I thought it was interesting that most of the problem is on the left side, but my symptoms show up on the right side.  I left with a prescription of leg raises and upper body twists on my “good side” which I did religiously for the next 2 days.
I noticed a small improvement when running 8×300 the next day – the usual stiffness didn’t hold me back!

Chip treats his patients like students, and so for the past 6 weeks, I’ve been learning something new about how to “undo” the stress that I’ve put on my body with my activity level.  I learn how to better understand my body and how to “fix” things when one side of my body feels differently than the other.  At each appointment, we take notes about what works, and I get copies inserted into my 3 ring binder, so I’m creating something I can reference in the future too.

I still have stiffness, but I think we’re peeling away the layers to get at what’s wrong. This won’t be a quick process, but hopefully it will be a lasting one. The improvements continue.  At my first appointment, I could only bend my back 12 degrees and now I’m in the 40 degrees range!  I could only raise my legs 22 inches at my first appointment and now I’m exceeding 45. My movements feel so much less constricted and my runs have improved.  I’m slowly ramping up my mileage to see what my body can handle with this new approach, so just maybe, I will feel well enough to tackle another marathon!

By: Erica Mancuso

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