I am Ann Petherbridge, physiotherapist and owner of Physio-Answers Physiotherapy.
I have had an intermittent back problem for many years. Some things aggravate it for a few days and it then settles down but that was it.
But two weeks ago, first thing in the morning, out of nowhere I had my first experience of something I have heard many times over the years:
‘‘I bent down to put on my socks and my back ‘went’’
There had been no warning or pain before that moment. The pain was immediate and excruciating. Any movement, however slight sent shooting pains into my spine. For a minute I was paralysed and wondered if I would be able to move or stand up. Let alone go on a 9 hour flight 4 days later!
I did eventually get moving, took some painkillers and made my way VERY slowly downstairs- sideways.
I had to go to work in my pyjamas and wear crocs as I could not get on trousers or shoes. The slightest movement in any direction sent shooting pains into my back.
But however awful things were. At least I knew what had happened to my back and what I should and shouldn’t do. It made me really appreciates how frightening it must be to many people who, without warning, are suddenly disabled by pain and have no idea what is happening. I would have wondered if I would ever recover if I did not know what was going on.
My approach to physio has always been that the more knowledge and understanding you have of your problem the better you can manage and control it but in those first few moments of such an acute attack-is there anything we could do to help someone?
I knew to keep moving, to avoid sitting, how to turn over in bed and what to expect and so things did improve and I managed to get some shoes on and after 5 days managed a 9 hour flight!
We can’t be there at the moment this thing happens but we can help to spread the word!
The faster someone gets some treatment and just as importantly , advice-and reassurance the quicker they will recover -so my advice to anyone is to get to see a health professional ( I am biased so will say a physio!) as soon as they can after an episode like this. Fear and worry has a very negative impact on recovery from pain and needs to be addressed immediately.
Empowering one person who may then also tell others of their experience is the only way we can make those first few moments a bit less frightening.
I did not enjoy it and don’t want to repeat it but I hope my story can help someone feel a bit better when they have to go to work in their pyjamas!
Here’s to a happy and healthy summer!
Physio-Answers Practice Principal
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