When I was in training, they always talk about the aspect of relaying to the client the importance of getting back on the road to recovery. I think the most valuable thing that a therapist can experience the same thing that they treat. When my back went out last year, it was so bad that I couldn’t move or turn without a severe spasm of my core stabilizer muscles including my lower back and all my abdominal muscles. This lasted for about 3 weeks before I could even stand up. Having experienced this has dramatically altered the way that I approach treating a client. When I experienced the pain, the best thing for me at the time was all laying around, gentle pain free movements and ice ice ice ice. Spasm is like an alarm that continually goes off even when it isn’t necessary anymore, and the icing helps to reduce this unnecessary spasm by numbing the area. It’s helps the client to get over that hump so they can get back to being active slowly. I’m a big fan of ice over the A535/Tiger Balm and similar as a primary analgesic. The creams are good to a certain level but you need to get to the deep muscles and ice is the big one for getting that deep.
Once the severe spasm and flareups have reduced, then it is easier to get in and treat the cause. This all is only in the event of severe spasm. Less painful conditions can often be treated more directly and it is all assessed on a case by case basis.
Now that I’ve just had heart surgery, it has given me an appreciation for the aspect of returning to activity slowly. It is slow and you have to be patient. This isn’t something where you can dull the pain and fight through it because I literally get out of breath if I do something too rigorously.
When I tell a patient that they have to do this, it is good for them to hear that I have gone through it too whether it is back pain or returning from any injury. I suppose it is more likely that they will follow my advice if what I am suggesting worked best for me.
In respect to my back, I have made big changes to my posture and have dramatically reduced the precursors to my pain that I had a year ago. It took a while before my body adjusted to the point where the posture was automatic and I didn’t have to think about it. That too is experience that I am happy to pass on. Posture changes are not automatic and take time, but are very beneficial and your body will love you for it.