Chris could barely walk. In September 2016, his back problems got so bad he had trouble doing anything.
His back had been causing problems since 2015. At that time, Chris visited a physical therapist along with many doctors, eventually learning he has degenerative disc disease in his lower lumbar. His earlier visits to a physical therapist worked, but after insurance stopped paying, he stopped going.
But by last fall, Chris’s disc had bulged out and pinched the nerve. Although Chris’s problem came from his back, that’s not where he felt pain. Instead, he left leg would seize and he felt cramps down his hamstring and down the calf. Chris walked with a crutch because his left leg was giving out when the nerve pinched. His ankle was also struggling.
“I was in desperate shape,” said Chris, who lives in Fuquay-Varina. He first tried to reach his previous physical therapist, who couldn’t see him for three weeks. “I couldn’t wait that long.”
His wife, a Back In Action client, called to find out if one of our team members could see him.
“Dr. Laura Wilson literally reorganized her schedule to see me the next day,” Chris said. “She’s been fantastic and accommodating.”
Physical therapy wasn’t overnight change.
“Yes, I got some relief quickly in terms of the pain levels. My ankle straightened out,” he said. “That was all short term.”
During the North Carolina State Fair in October, Chris hobbled in with his wife and four kids, but due to his pain he could only sit while everyone else wandered off to enjoy the fair. By November, he had also spoken to a neurosurgeon and had to decide whether to try surgery or continue with physical therapy.
“I wanted to rely on surgery as a last resort,” Chris said. “I just continued to work with Laura. I felt that I could trust her. She was extremely approachable.”
An Amazing Impact
By mid-December, the two had made progress. First, his ankle began to feel better. Then his hamstring. Next his calf. Suddenly, he felt the pace of progress increase.
“I finally got back to the point where I could start exercising on my own,” said Chris, who has a recumbent bike and weight machine at home. “I started the bike first and three weeks ago I got back to the weight machine. Today, I’m riding the bike three to three and a half miles every day and working out on my weight machine with light weights.”
“Now I’m playing soccer with my kids (gently). I’m re-engaged with my family. I have all that back. Physical therapy literally got me back on my feet and gave me back time with my kids. This year, I know we can go to the State Fair.”
Chris says he’s still not 100 percent, and he has to be careful not to overdo things. But if he has pain now, he can recover fairly quickly. He still visits Laura regularly, but the visits are less frequent. Eventually, he will visit Back in Action on an as-needed basis.
Worth the Effort
Chris knows some people are nervous about the work that goes into physical therapy.
“Physical therapy can be a lot of work. Yes, it does hurt initially. If you know the fact that up front it’s going to hurt a little but it’s going to make things much better in the long run. If you see it through, you’ll find it really does help. It gave me another option and it worked. So I’m very grateful for the fact that I didn’t have to undergo the surgery. I am extremely grateful to be at a functioning level in my life.”
Thank you, Chris for sharing your story with us!