Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Physical Therapy Ch. 10: Headed for an MRI

It looks like I will be getting a shot.
Cathy (my physical therapist) yesterday referred me to a physiatrist. I had never heard of this medical specialty before; it's an orthopedic MD who specializes in non-surgical solutions to bone and joint issues. Today, I had an appointment with the physiatrist's physician's assistant, Jim. He listened to my long boring tale of back woe, looked me over and said I had done all the right things by trying PT, core work, ice, and ibuprofen courses--but that at this point I am definitely a candidate for a steroid injection. What started out as a sacro-iliac joint issue, he says, has caused chronic inflammation around my lumbar vertebrae. The injection should bring that down.
First, though, I have to have an MRI to confirm his diagnosis, rule out cancer and other unlikely problems that a shot wouldn't help, and also to reveal exactly where my inflammation is. That MRI is scheduled for Friday. The physiatrist, who will be the one to administer the shot, is on vacation for two weeks, so we're looking into August for the shot itself. (I shared all this info with Darren, and once again felt so glad I had hired him.I'll apparently have to take a week off of intense exercise after the shot. I'm hoping Darren can bring me back fast from that. I hate the idea of taking even seven days off!!)

Jim, the physician's assistant, happily, is pro running. He says running is actually not bad at all on its own for my kind of back problem. And he thinks as long as I keep my core strong (and you can bet I'm committed to that--Pilates forever!), I'm likely to be one of those people who doesn't show up again in five months needing another shot.
Fingers crossed that he's right!
On Darren's advice, I'm also going to see an ART (active release therapy) guy next week to deal with my recalcitrant right hamstring, which has been needling at me just a tiny bit for a couple of weeks now. Darren wants NO hamstring issues as we move into real training. And now that I know the prognosis for my back, I'm ready to deal with the hamstring, too.
Though I'm SO grateful to live in a place like Boulder, where sports injuries are taken seriously and there are plenty of skilled doctors, PTs and alternative practitioners around, I will say I'll be glad to move on to a few months with no doctor visits, no co-pays, no trying to fit appointments in between my job and my family obligations. I just want to work, raise my kids, enjoy my husband....and run.
It's time to get healthy!


  1. You're definitely lucky to be where you are, and here's hoping you're soon to be through with taking advantage of all these medical people and soon to be enjoying the great races and locations. :)

  2. here's to hoping everything turns out ok with the MRI and that you will be able to get that shot and just ONCE and that Jim is correct!!!

  3. BostonboundbrunetteJuly 18, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    You are a lucky lady, well not because of all of the things that you are having to go through, but because you have some great doctors and skilled people watching out for you.  I think you are going to be super strong when all is said and done.  Good luck and I wish you all the best.

  4. really sounds like you are being fully supported, which is amazing! I think so many other docs would just say "quit running" and want you to move on with your life.  I didn't like reading the c word though - hope your MRI is as expected and the shot will help!

  5. Wow, you are lucky to have so many skilled people to help! I just use Google...... Ha, get well soon.

  6. I can only imagine how tired of it all you are! You've been a trooper throughout this long saga. I really hope whatever course of action comes next does it once and for all for you!

  7. I love ART and have had tremendous success with it!  I was having major SI issues two months ago, and after about 8 visits, I was totally pain free for my race day!  I've done the injections too, and they can bring immediate relief.  Keep seeking out solutions and do what you need to do to get back to running!

  8. You have kept SUCH a great attitude through all of this. I am so hoping that this MRI and shot FINALLY have you healthy and strong, 100% so you can start kicking butt. And Yay for great doctors and your coach. You have a wonderful support system. Hugs!

  9. The good news = prognosis! I know that you hate hearing that you have more appts, etc. but at least they know what is wrong and have a solution to fix it right?! Fingers and toes crossed that the shot is the magic cure and you are ready to proceed forward, full speed ahead (pun intended :))

  10. we are lucky to have such great access to health care professionals that "get us".  

    If I don't keep my psoas muscles stretched out - I have terrible back pain.  

    The first time it happened I didn't know what the problem was, but my massage therapist knew exactly what the problem was and when she released them - magically the pain was gone.  I know if I was still living in Dallas - my doctor would have prescribed "muscle relaxants" and sent me on my way and it would have been the beginning of chronic pain.  

    Now I know that keeping things stretched that I can avoid completely unnecessary medication and keep my muscles working the way they are supposed to work!

    don't worry - you're life will be back to normal soon!!

  11. Well, it appears things are moving forward???  I think so so we'll go with that!  I know this is taking a lot longer than you hoped, but things are happening and that's good.  Keep being the strong girl you are!!  :)

  12. Crossing my fingers that this works for you. You have been down a long and persistent road to recovery. Good luck!

  13. That is definitely one of the best locations to be- where they're really taking you seriously.  I feel a little lost in the crowd here, after getting my shin checked out... now it's not 100% and I think I'm going to take 2 weeks to focus on cross training, but I should probably find someone else who can actually guide me through this, instead of running too soon and making it worse, which I seem to keep doing!

  14. Goodness it has been a long process -- but it definitely looks like it is on the downhill side.  Fingers crossed this does the trick.  

  15. I am so glad you hired Darren!  Sounds like a fantastic coach!

  16. You’re one lucky gal, indeed! When you’re experiencing bone and joints issues, nothing can be more helpful than seeking assistance from skilled doctors and therapists in town. It would be a plus if they are committed enough to providing top-quality services for you, which includes being compassionate and understanding about your situation. Luckily, you met Jim, who can truly relate to your feelings as both of you have the same passion to run.

  17. As a physician, I am sorry to say, that my course through the health
    care system was not what I expected. I was urged by both neurosurgeons
    to have surgery as the best, perhaps only, way to end the pain I was in.
    I was told by the physical therapists all the things I shouldn’t do
    (look down, chop vegetables/prep food to cook, walk my dogs) – and all
    the things I could probably never do again (trail run, shovel, garden,
    go backpacking) –and all the expensive equipment I should by ($400
    traction device).

    nj physical

  18. Like what Jim has told you, it's okay for a runner to run with lower back pain, as long as it does not make your back feel worse after. It's a case to case basis. Most of the time, constant pounding of the feet when running can send shockwaves to the spine and hips. By the way, a physiatrist can either be a medical doctor (MD) or a doctor of osteopathy (DO), which among those two did Cathy refer, Terzah?

    Candy Rowe