This morning was my first appointment for physical therapy. As with all things I’ve never done before, I was nervous going into it. Would I like the center? Would I like the therapist? Would it hurt? Would it be a waste of time? All these things went through my head while I waited for my appointment. As is classic me, I was early, so it seemed to make the wait that much longer. But, watching the therapist (his name is Dan) with the patient there before me actually put me at ease. He was very friendly, explained things in detail, and encouraged questions. That made me happy because I always have endless questions.
When it was my turn, he watched me walk from the waiting area and started off my appointment with many questions. When did this first happen, what was I doing when it happened, what have I done, where is my pain, and so on. He would have me move in different positions and ask if that was better or worse. One particular movement was not comfortable and when I mentioned that is was uncomfortable and could I stop it, he told me not to be so polite, speak up and let him know. He doesn’t want me to do anything that is uncomfortable.
After we got through all the questions and answers, he told me I am classic textbook for sciatica, but that I have a pretty good (re: bad) case of it. Based on my detailed discussion of previous back issues I’ve had (over the years, I’ve thrown out my back a few times and have to be very careful with my lower back), he feels that this bout of sciatica was not brought on by whatever I may have done 3 weeks ago, which was likely bootcamp exercises that were out of the norm for me, but it is likely this has been coming on for years.
First of all, I am a sloucher. I hunch over my desk or laptop. I also sleep wrong. I sleep on my side (either one) in a fetal position. I pull my knees all the way up to my chest and it’s very comfortable. But comfortable or not, it’s not good for me.
Long story short, when I slouch or sleep all curled up, the forward bending that these movements and positions create is causing the nerve to be pinched from the disc being pushed back. It’s what my body knows and is used to, but creates a weakness. Three weeks ago when I first had this sciatica pop up, it’s likely that one movement finally sent that disc right smack into my sciatic nerve. Which brings to where I am now, in pain and with tingling, numbness, and weakness in my left leg.
So, I have a new best friend and it goes by the name of lumbar support. I have to sit straight and use this support as a reminder to have that nice round curve in my back. Nice curve = no hunching or slouching forward.
I also have to do an exercise similar to cobra pose in yoga (which, by the way, scored me bonus points for knowing this). It’s not quite cobra as I don’t go back as far, but it’s similar. This motion will extend my spine the other way, eventually working that disc off my sciatic nerve. I have to do this 5-6 times a day, 15 reps.
As for sleeping, no more fetal position. This one will be the hardest for me because when I sleep, I have no control over how I’m laying. I have to train myself to sleep on my back or stomach. If I do sleep on my side, I have to keep my legs straight. I already told hubby if he see me sleeping all curled up, he has to wake me up. He will be the sleep police.
I don’t really have any limitations. Dan even told me that I can walk on the treadmill at an easy pace, but NO incline. I have to keep it flat for now.
I left there this morning feeling better about this and that there is some hope for this. I go back on Thursday afternoon to do it all again and see if we need to change things up at all. I’ve done 4 sets of my exercises already today, so I’m on track to get them all in. It’s up to me to make this work. I hope it does, because I do not want to have shots in my back if it doesn’t work.
What has your experience been with physical therapy? Did you have success?