Enjoying Life in the Face of Chronic Pain

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Barb Miller FamilyBarb Miller of Greenville wasn’t sure what to expect the first day she stepped inside MotionWorks Physical Therapy two years ago. She had already had many advanced treatments to address a lifelong history of low back pain and previously herniated disc, including a spine fusion and implanted pain pump, but three years ago her back pain had returned. This pain was severely limiting her life, including limiting her full time work in an office setting to part time, as well as being active with her husband and growing tweens/teens, Hunter and Savanna. Since her kids were very involved in sports, Barb wanted to practice with them as well, but her back pain was limiting activities like throwing the baseball in the back yard and sitting on bleachers to attend their games.

Barb’s doctors tried many different treatment options, including medications and injections, and her insurance was limiting any surgical options at this time. By the time Barb set foot in MotionWorks, her options and hope for pain relief were running out. When Barb met her therapist, Dr. Jill Murphy, she was pleasantly surprised at the different care she received compared to the other times she had visited physical therapists in the past. She was pleased with the care she received, and the time and focus her therapist gave her and her functional limitations. “I didn’t feel rushed and in the way of her next patient. She really wanted to make sure you got everything you needed while you were there,” Barb remarked. “This was much more personal care. I wasn’t just another person in a room with a physical therapist working with several people at once. Jill takes her time and makes sure you are comfortable with all she is doing before the appointment is over.”

With physical therapy treatments involving hands-on treatments, exercise instruction for stretches to help her feel better, and strengthening to make her stronger, Barb was seeing results, slowly but surely. Eventually her visits included special training to get back to daily life activities in a different way, with instruction in how to pick something up off the floor, sweep the floor, and rake leaves without straining her back.

Barb Miller KayakSince completing her physical therapy at MotionWorks, Barb has come a long way, returning to the activities that used to be too challenging and pain-provoking in the past. She can now carry her laundry basket up and down the stairs, sweep her floors, do yard work, and cut the lawn with a self-propelled mower without back pain. She also has felt comfortable enough to get back on her ATV for short rides, and going on camping trips with the family. Two years ago, she didn’t think it was possible to get back to these fun, recreational activities with her family, but this year she even tried kayaking for the first time. Now she feels capable of trying new things, listening to her back to see what she can do and try, and using the techniques she learned in physical therapy to treat her pain quickly at home when it starts to return.

“I know I will live with chronic pain everyday, probably for the rest of my life,” Barb comments, “But I am not letting it stop me from enjoying life. I work full time and have a full, fun, active life outside of work. It took a lot of hard work to get here and I owe a lot of that to Jill. Even when I didn’t think I could do anymore she knew I could and kept me going.” Barb felt the coaching style that her physical therapist utilized to give practical advice when an activity was challenging and brainstorming ways to make everyday tasks like sitting at work was successful in finding back-friendly ways to do things. Happy with her personalized care at MotionWorks, Barb’s advice for others in pain is to be comfortable with their physical therapist, and to make sure they are giving you their full attention to get the best results from physical therapy.