After weeks of trying painkillers alone, I finally went to sports rehab for help with her agonizingly painful lumbar spine problem. To my surprise, physical therapy was a relief to my back pain, and I was able to leave the facility an hour later, walking fully upright for the first time in weeks. Thanks to a wonderful contraption called a traction bed, that stretched out my spine and relieved the pressure on the lumbar area.
What is traction? The physical therapist first put me in a harness. They had me wear a vest-like apparatus, and attached another one to go the opposite way, as I lied down on the traction table, with pillows under my head. Then, they hooked me to a Tens Machine (I’ll explain that in a moment) and then turned on both systems. It felt wonderful, I could’ve stayed there all evening. After roughly twenty minutes, they unhooked me, and I was amazed to be able to walk around much more comfortably than when I walked in the place. Whoever invented this wonderful apparatus did back pain sufferers a really big favor.
What is a Tens Unit? It is a machine that emits minor electrical pulses to the area that is in pain, working the muscles and giving relief to the area. There are different kinds of pulses, some ping and some pulse, but they all feel great. I had the physical therapist crank it up as high as possible, and it made my pains go away for the time I was using it. Amazing. I’d been doubled over with serious pain, even with medicines like Celebrex and Tylenol with Codeine in my system. This worked better than both of those together, hands down.
On the wall was a poster, explaining the spine, in minute detail. Very interesting. It’s much more complicated than I could ever imagine. I had the therapist show me where my L5 lumbar area was, because that is where the herniated disk is. Half the benefit of going to physical therapy is the instruction on what to do with your problem. They teach you how to get up correctly without straining your back, what the best position for sleeping with a bad back (on your back with a pillow under your knees), and other useful mobility tips. Hearing all the correct ways to treat my body, it was apparent to me that I’ve really been abusing my poor spine for most of my life. No wonder I’ve had lesser bouts of back pain for the last twenty years, culminating in a more severe case this time around. I learned my lesson.
The therapist told me to slowly, gradually, build up my stamina by walking and doing light exercizes. He told me to listen to my body, if I feel pain then it’s time to stop. I did a little walking this evening. Thanks to the traction therapy, I am much more comfortable. It will be a long and slow recovery from sciatica but at least I now know there is hope. Having to go to a spine doctor and for physical therapy for the first time in my life was initially really scary to me. But, truthfully, it was an unexpected relief. Nobody gave me shots in my spine, or manhandled me. There wasn’t any torturous pain inflicted on me, just a few tests to see how strong or weak my muscles are, a CT scan and a few x-rays. I heard another patient ask the therapist what happens if the physical therapy doesn’t work. The next step is getting shots in the back, he said. No way, I told him to fix me, so I never need to get to that level of treatment. The next level of treatment after those shots is surgery. I want to avoid all of that, and am glad to know that they don’t push these things on us. They wait to see how we respond. And, I can tell that the therapy is working, so I am going to build up my stamina by doing as told.
If you suffer from crippling back pain, make sure to go to a specialist and have him look at your back. He will probably give you pain killers and prescribe physical therapy. I reccommend it, and wish you a speedy recovery. I’m so glad I finally went. No more toughing it out for me. It gives me hope of a pain-free future and shows it’s needless to suffer in silence. Been there, done that.