In a time when we are hurt, we get a rush of emotions, including fear, anxiety, hesitation, anger, depression, and many more. It is a unique feeling because we are not quite sure what to do, what we did to cause it, and what is happening internally. As physical therapists, we pride ourselves on being able to evaluate a condition by assessing symptomatic responses, weakness, range of motion deficits, and other tests and measures. But what happens when the physical therapist gets injured?
This past week was eye opening. As the owner of a physical and occupational therapy practice, an advocate for the rehab professions, a McKenzie Certified clinician, and passionate practicing clinician, the tables turned, and I was the injured. This wasn’t the first time, but it was the worst time. Tuesday morning started with a tweak, ended much worse. Wednesday began with a failed running attempt but I continued to stretch and move. Thursday I couldn’t start my day without help and that was just the beginning.
Being the stubborn person I am, I decided to muscle through. But what happens when no position feels better except laying on my side? Well... it got worse! I continued to put pressure on the injured area and the symptoms continued to escalate. At one point, the scariest point, I stood up and felt lightheaded, dizziness, nauseous, and got a rush of fear running through my body. This resulted in full body sweating, but luckily I did not pass out; although I felt like I was very close.
Thursday ended on a fearful note. With a family vacation about to begin, I couldn’t even lift my daughters or hug them without being scared of sharp pain. What did I do? I turned to the basics. Thursday night I found the position of relief, laying on my side with a pillow between my knees, and I stuck to it for the night. I woke up on Friday and decided to spend the day resting, using an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, positioning, support, and movement. The movement was simple, basic, and mid-range/single plane to keep things flexible within tolerance. I even tried walking, although that may be an overstatement. I walked .5 miles at over 30 minutes per mile pace. Any aggravating movements were avoided at all costs. Friday night was spent in the same relieving position.
Saturday morning was a different day! A new day! A day that started with minimal discomfort, more of a tightness than a sharp pain. It was local and wasn’t aggravated by slight positional changes. I didn’t have full range of motion, but I could move without wincing. I continued keeping the movements limited to single plane, but progressed throughout the range, hitting full range of motion by early afternoon. I progressed with a mild full body workout focusing on posture and abdominal bracing.
This was a huge reality check that I am not invincible, but it was also a confirmation that movement WORKS! If you stick to the basics, reduce strain and let the body rest, then reintroduce movement in a progressive manner, you have a better chance of healing, both physically and mentally. The key is quick intervention. You will build confidence and an understanding of how your body works. Additionally, you may also understand how to assess a condition just in case it happens again in the future.
Am I 100% back to normal? No, but I am well underway in just under a week’s time. Now for a gentle progression introducing new controlled movements in multiple planes followed but more varied motions returning to baseline! From there, a continued dose of exercise, including stretching, strengthening, stamina, and fun!
If you live in the Greater Philadelphia area, we are here for you! Our locations offer Direct Access services to help you get on the right track FAST! Much like electrical work or plumbing work in our homes, if we don’t know how to fix something, the key is to know where to turn! At Full Range our therapists work one-on-one with you to help get you on track. They take the time to sit down with you, learn what your goals are, and help you get on the path to success!