John’s still not quite sure what led to the misalignment of his spine, but he does know one thing: the pain was excruciating.
It started in January 2016 with some “off and on” discomfort in his right hip, then the pain moved to his left hip. He tried “working through it” with some self-prescribed exercises, but by springtime the pain was constant in both hips and lower back.
He then went to a primary care doctor who ordered x-rays, but was unable to determine the reason for his pain. “It was getting worse and worse — and it was killing me,” says John, 60. “Some mornings, I just didn’t want to get out of bed.”
A neurodiagnostic technologist with UPMC, John spends most of the day on his feet carefully maneuvering around wires connected to ICU patients while using special equipment to examine brain, nerve, and muscle activity. The pain became so bad that his daily 45-minute commute was almost unbearable. He could no longer enjoy Friday evening cornhole games at his son’s house or fishing at Cross Creek Lake.
After several months, his PCP suggested opioids for pain and referral to a surgeon, but John refused. “I just didn’t want to go that route,” he says. As a last resort, he opted to try physical therapy.
In June, John started physical therapy with Jeff Klug, MPT, facility director at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services’ Castle Shannon location, just 15 minutes from his South Park home. Jeff quickly determined that John’s spine was misaligned. Additionally, his muscles were very tight through his hips, quads, and hamstrings.
“He figured out right away what was wrong with me! A couple months of physical therapy and my pain was gone,” says John. “It was the worst pain of my life, but they fixed me without drugs or surgery.”
Almost immediately, John could tell the therapy was helping. Over the next eight weeks, the therapist had him do targeted stretching and exercises to realign his spine and strengthen his core. “They got things moving in one way, then worked on other things,” John says. “They got me pain free and I couldn’t be happier!”
Although his physical therapy ended in August, John continues to do daily stretching and exercises to keep his spine aligned and hips and legs loose. And, if something starts to hurt, he knows what to do.
“I was stubborn before and thought I could handle it myself. I suffered a long time before deciding on physical therapy,” he says. “I’m not going to wait so long the next time!”