Sciatica Pain Testimony
Just got this email from Brandon in our Chicago clinic and I had to share it. What an amazing story of dedication, ebbs, flows and ultimately, victory over a symptom that had consumed this young lady’s life. Congrats on your success and your successes that are yet to come! I look forward to hearing more positive things from you in the future.
When I found the book, “Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain” by Pete Egoscue, I was suffering from chronic sciatic pain in my right leg as a result of a 5 mm bulge/ruptured disc in L4 and a 2mm bulge in L5. My pain level on a regular basis was anywhere from 6-10 and I couldn’t stand, sit or lay down without its constant company. At this point, my body’s functionality was limited to a very small box of about 8 – 10 inches in any direction from my waist in a vigilant attempt to not cause pain. I was taking anti-inflammatory drugs every 4-6 hours just to take the edge off, icing 3 times a day and minimizing movement as much as possible. If I bent my arms or my legs any more than 90 degrees, within minutes I would experience numbness.
I devoured the book and the Egoscue method resonated with every fiber of my being. So, I immediately took action. I began working with Brandon out of the Chicago office in mid-July of 2010.
As I progressed through the first few weeks of my menu, I noted that I generally felt better after completing the session. As I went into the 3rd to 5th weeks, I started experiencing an increase in the sciatic pain and new pains surfaced. Now, this was counterintuitive to me. In my mind, if I was working very hard every day doing these e-cises, shouldn’t I be feeling less and less pain? But, I got worse and it was very discouraging. It was time for a pep talk from Brandon.
Much to my surprise, he actually said what I was experiencing was a good thing and the amount of change told him that we were on the right track. Of course I thought he was crazy! He encouraged me with a quote from Pete Egoscue – “the road to being pain free is not always pain less.” He also gave me an article that discussed the impact of the “healing reaction” which basically tells us that as we heal we will go back through a period of pain. As difficult as this was to accept, I decided to pull up my boot straps and forge onward.
The Roller Coaster
The next 6 weeks were a roller coaster of pain to discomfort to relief and back again. After I had been working on a new menu for about a week or a week and a half, I would notice a decrease in symptoms and movement limitations would improve. Then, with the introduction of a new menu, the pain, discomfort and limitation cycle would start all over again.
However, I began to recognize that the e-cises that caused the most difficulty and pain started getting easier over time. That never seemed possible when I started them. I would say to myself regularly, “Right, like I am going to ever be able to do this!” But, I found that focusing on those small “wins” or glimmers of hope kept me pushing through each day. Deep down I still wasn’t convinced that it made sense that I would need to go through this pain cycle to heal. And, why was it taking so long!
I sought out Brandon on and off for a pep talk to encourage me and remind me that this was to be expected. I could see the changes in my body that the pictures were revealing, so it seemed as if progress was being made. Near the end of this period, I had backed off on the need to use anti-inflammatory drugs to manage pain regularly. And, my body was moving a little more freely outside of the box I had started my journey in. Although, I was still in the grip of the fear of pain so I maintained strict limits. During this time, I had added taking an easy walk most days for 30 minutes and the Tower 1-2 times per week.
The Road Block
Unfortunately, around the 11th week of my program, my pain had decreased enough that my awareness about being careful left me for a brief moment. I moved in such an odd and twisting way that my bulging disc hit my sciatic nerve. This caused 1,000 times the pain I had ever experienced previously. It sent my body into spasms for at least 15 minutes. I went to the ground and stayed there for about 5 days and slowly became functional over the next 7. I had to seek medical attention, pain killers and muscle relaxants to manage through the awful event. A new symptom appeared – slight numbness in my right leg.
The first business day after this happened, I immediately contacted Brandon. Even though I was in excruciating pain, my first thought was that I could not miss doing my e-cises! I knew the worse thing for me was to remain motionless, but I wasn’t capable of doing my current menu. I was given what I called “My Healing Menu” of e-cises and continued doing those once a day as best I could after I injured myself.
This was a huge set back mentally and emotionally after all the work that I had done. I questioned how this could have happened when I had been working so hard and was getting stronger. An MRI revealed the L4 rupture/bulge was now increased to 6mm. I worried that I had lost all that had been gained. I considered and scheduled a discectomy only to cancel it after a long talk with Brandon. Thank goodness I listened to his counsel.
Within 2 weeks, I was already able to go back to the very first menu prescribed for me. I would find that I still had muscle memory and I recovered much more quickly than I thought I ever would.
After 6 weeks of working slowly back through the pain and discomfort of previous menu’s until I was comfortable again, I was ready for a new evaluation and menu to begin challenging my body once again. At this point, it was mid-December 2010, 5 months since I began my Egoscue program (with that huge road block in between). My focus up to this point had been on how the pain would change every moment of every day and more specifically while I was doing my e-cises.
Through that cloud, I wasn’t able to see the big picture – what amazing things were really happening to my body overall.
Around the first part of 2011 (just 2 weeks later), I wrote this in my status report email:
“I have this sense that I have been climbing this mountain, reached the summit and I am now progressing down the other side. It has been a kind of an awakening in my body. In the past I have been so focused on the pain and what was causing it and how it was changing. Now, as I do these exercises the pain is dwindled to nothing mostly. So, what I started realizing this past week is how I am able to twist my torso more and when I bend down and reach, it is with much more range and functionality. I must admit I have been afraid to twist and bend much over the past months in fear of hitting the sciatic nerve. But, there is some new confidence in my body that it says it is ok to do a bit more and not be so afraid.”
I am writing this testimonial just over 7 months since I started my Egoscue program. Today, I have no sciatic pain no matter how I move or twist my body. I can touch my toes! I can walk as fast as I want again while I am exercising. I have recently added running to my workout because my body told me it wanted more. When I bend my arms and legs more than 90 degrees, I can maintain that position for a normal amount of time without experiencing numbness. The numbness in my right leg is very minor. Needless to say, I no longer rely on anti-inflammatory drugs.
It is so amazing now to look back and remember how difficult it was day to day in comparison to how I feel today. I can hardly recognize that body that was in so much pain and could barely move. But with Brandon’s continued encouragement, my deep down belief that this was the right path, and a lot of hard work, the investment has paid off in spades.*
I recognize that this is a life-long commitment to daily e-cises to stay strong and pain free. But, I no longer question how the benefits outweigh the cost a thousand fold. I am not done yet as I am not 100% functional. Not having pain is not enough for me. I want the fully functional and healthy body that lives within this amazing machine. And, I will get it with the Egoscue method.
I have no doubt it is within reach for me and anyone who commits to it no matter how the pain ebbs and flows and how slow the progress may feel at times. This process is like seeing the rainbow appear at the end of an intense storm.
What’s your testimonial? How has Egoscue changed your life? Let’s hear from you!