Chronic Pain Management With Physical Therapy

I stopped going to physical therapy. You’ll never believe what happened.

My name is Becca and I work for SOL Physical Therapy, but I’m not a physical therapist.  Three weeks ago, I waxed poetic about how physical therapy was changing my life for the better. After enthusiastically attending my physical therapy follow-up the next day, I missed my next two appointments, and fell back into some bad habits.

In spite of my absence from PT, something amazing happened in the time since my last visit.

My pain is immensely worse than it was a few weeks ago (this is not the amazing part).

My arm and wrist weakness has flared up more than a few times, my neck and shoulder pain is more constant than usual, and for the first time, my pain made it difficult to sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable.

People at SOL started to notice.

Maybe I was surlier than usual, or maybe the dark circles under my eyes were a telltale, or maybe (just maybe) I had a conversation on SOL Performance’s facebook page about how stress made my pain symptoms worse. Whatever the signs, Tammara – the founder of SOLPT, and my boss — noticed.

About a week ago, Tammara walked into my office. “Hey. How’s everything going?”

I came clean and told her that I hadn’t seen my SOL PT in a few weeks. Work had been really busy (learning how to create animated .gifs was fun, but time consuming!), my job outside of this job (I teach a community college course) was crazy, and I just simply hadn’t had the time to go.

She nodded her head. “What are you doing for exercise?”

I answered honestly. I admitted that, since starting my job at SOL, I hadn’t really done much exercising. I explained that I use my evenings to complete my teaching responsibilities, and I use my mornings to sleep. My weekends are currently full of Cal Football, pick-up softball, and family dinners.

The next few things she said blew my mind.

“We are 100% committed to your complete recovery. But you have to start moving. Movement is life.”

She explained to me that all the physical therapy in the world wouldn’t work unless I was moving my body. She also explained the physiological basis behind why regular movement would reduce my stress levels and therefore reduce or even eliminate the effect stress was having on my pain.

She pointed to my organization board, “All this will get done. But it will get done much better once you start taking better care of yourself.”

Based on what I expressed to her about my life schedule, Tammara told me I needed to start leaving in the middle of the day to exercise. I needed to start engaging in what she called “Radical Self Care.”

In my first week since our conversation, I ran through the woods, biked in the Oakland hills, and went to the SOL Functional Movement class.

All smack dab in the middle of my workday.

Even though I definitely still need to get back to PT, I feel less stressed out. It’s easier for me to go home and grade papers at the end of my SOLPT day, and it’s easier for me to look at my org board and feel like I can accomplish everything I’ve mapped out!

Although being told by my boss to leave in the middle of the day to workout was pretty incredible, I think the most amazing thing to come out of falling off the PT wagon was this:

SOL is an organization that walks its talk.

It’s easy for an organization to say they’re committed to helping people. But statements of commitment are superficial when that commitment only extends as far as a payment.

In being allowed to change my workday to fit my lifestyle, it really hit home how the ethos of helping people to recover from pain so that they can live active lives isn’t just a means by which to attract business – it’s the foundation upon which decisions get made around here.

I’m proud to work at an organization where the mission isn’t superficial, and I’m stoked to be in the position that can show the world what SOL does for people.

And! I can’t wait for my physical therapy appointment later today!!

About the author

Sports + Orthopedic Leaders Physical Therapy & Performance Training serves the communities of Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Orinda, San Francisco and beyond. SOLPT’s award winning team of Physical Therapists, Performance Coaches and movement experts has helped thousands reach their rehabilitation and performance goals to move beyond pain. We're committed to helping anyone of any fitness level move effectively and more powerfully for a lifetime. We offer rehabilitation and performance services to all populations, with specialties in Sports Rehabilitation, Active Release Techniques, and Manual Therapy Techniques plus Personal and Small Group Training, Sport Clinics and Wellness Services.

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