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Setting limits sorry for the venting!

gethealthyggethealthy Posts: 303
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have to vent.

I've been going to PT and it has helped and it's hurt too. My last 2 walks I could barely get through due to pain and that has never happened. My neck is looser so that's good but geeze!

I've had to tell them to lighten the arm bike each time. I forgot and did it as they set it today BIG MISTAKE! I also gave in and laid on my stomach for the massage they give just before they hold my head in their hands and stretch it to a scary degree. I've refused and requested a chair prior to today.

I also had to limit them on the weight they wanted me to lift over my head!

PT has always saved my butt in the past but I'm wondering about this time. If I didn't have 40 years experience as a fitness specialist and hadn't gone to tons of PT in the past I think I would be in bad shape. I would have done all they wanted me to and paid big time for it.

I want range of motion so I know I need to do some of the neck stretching but I think they're getting way too aggressive.

I'm going to talk to them Monday and tell them this is not working. Changes are needed or I'm going else where.

This is the PT my doctor uses so he's suppose to be good but I think I'm running into my common problem. I'm very petite! I had a terrible time with the anesthesia because they gave me too much. I think the PT isn't use to working on wee little people. I look strong and am but I only weigh a 100 pounds and some change on a good day.

Be careful when you go for PT. If it hurts refuse to do it!



  • Unfortunately there are too many examples where physical therapy does more harm than good. And some aren't very receptive if you stand up and tell them you aren't supposed to be doing something...or you have a gut feeling it is going to be bad for you.

    One of my surgeons, who is a solo practioner, has his own PT. That way he knows the guy is doing things the way the doctor wants...and if there is ever a question, the doctor is right there for a quick answer.
  • My doctor sent me to these guys. They're right down the street from his office. Too bad the doctor isn't there to set limits. Have you used his PT for your recovery?

    I'll let you know how my guys do with my comments on Monday. I don't want to burn bridges but I do want to let them know they need to listen to me. Making mistakes on a cervical spine is scary. Once a PT messed up my shoulder but it was an easy fix. Your neck isn't.
  • I have had my doubts about PT as well.

    I've gone to 9 different places in the last 4 years - mostly based on what the different dr.'s recommended, but, when it was MY choice, I went with the PT that I thought was the best.

    I'm pretty sure I've done damage in the PT offices before. Laying on my stomach - YES, I remember that one - BIG mistake. Then the time the one group tried traction - I couldn't move for an hour, I was literally frozen in pain, EVERY move was agony. Oh, and the grissage(sp?) work - I think that was a mistake as well - rubbing around over my scar to loosen the scar tissue - never mind that I have hardware issues from being thin.

    I'm not comforted hearing your perspective (what with you really KNOWING based on your experience in the field) but now I at least feel more empowered to say no next time.
  • I got the courage to cancel my Monday appointment and am going to call my surgeon. Thanks Paulgia. I'm going to make sure they're on task with what I'm really suppose to be doing.

    If my PT calls I'll ask him if he's contacted my doctor to see what I'm suppose to be doing. We're all different. We can't be sent thru like a cookie cutter deal. Hopefully he did and if not this could be a wake up call for him.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    To start with, I am a firm believer in Physical Therapy when performed by the right therapist, but I will also be the first to say that Physical Therapy has its limits and when pushed can cause more harm than good.

    Now that was a mouth ful!

    Coming out of surgery, a recent flare up or something new, Physical Therapy is one of the conservative treatments that can get many past the problem and without alot of follow on activity.

    In over 35 years I have probably been to about 20 different Physical Therapy centers and have had almost as many therapists. I am now talking about PT after surgery. Generally the first couple of sessions are going to hurt. You are beginning to use muscles/tendons/etc that have not been used in a while or where surgical altered. Here is the time when most people tend to give up on Physical Therapy. But that is the time to stick with it. Afgter those initial pain sessions, you should start to see some progress. Here is when things are beginning to work, but also when you need to play closer attention.

    I have some rules regarding going to Physical Therapy:

    1 - Check out the center(s) first. See what kind of rooms/equipment they have. See what the patient to PT ratio is. Check to see what their scheduling is like. Most doctors will recommend 1 or 2 centers but would always write a script to another center that you decided on.

    2 - Once you decided on the center and you understand what the script your doctor has written, meet with some of the therapists. The first session in Therapy is generally an evaluation where the therapist gets to understand you condition and what can be done. But to me, here is the time for you to meet some of the different therapists. Thats very important. For me, I know that I could only have a female therapist. Now, I am far from a sexist, but I know I will always listen to a female therapist and would have a difficult time with a male. One of my biggest pushes is to stick with one therapist. Do not allow being bounced from therapist to therapist. Too much gets lost in the translation. From 2006 to almost the end of 2008, I was in therapy at first 3 x week , then 2 x week, and it was the same therapist. She got to know me better than I knew myself. Each visit, she would stand at the end of the hallway and have me walk in. She would know by the way I was walking, moving, how my hips were, was one shoulder up, etc what my problem right then was. She when then precede to work on that. We developed such a strong mutual respect for one another, I would listen to her before I would listen to some of the surgeons who sent me there to begin with.

    What I respected the most about her was that if there was something that I felt was not going to be doing any good and going to cause my problems, we would talk about it. She knew that I had over 30 years of PT, so I wasnt just being scared of PT, but knew what worked for me and what didnt.
    I was so sad when she left this center to move away with her husband and baby to a country environment. The therapist that took over tried to push me in ways I know shouldn't be. Think about this, most therapists are in excellent shape, so to them the motto " No Pain , No Gain" is real.

    So it is so important to know when to say NO, enough is enough and stick by it. Pushing beyond what you should be doing, you could really create new problems.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I once had my PT dump me b/c the moron made me doing 10 push ups.. which i couldn't do and it crippled me and I cried. I also wouldn't com twice a week. he couldn't understand that i have a job and can not afford 40 bucks a co-pay twice a week. he was an ass. I told him i was sensitive and he pushed me too far. This was two years ago when i was in a much better place physically too. Let the Physical Therapist know when it is too much. You know your own body the best. There is a difference between pushing yourself and hurting yourself.

    I had a great PT in college who would laugh at me b/c of how easily i would harm myself. He altered what I did so that I wouldn't. It is the only PT I ever liked and helped me and he is in Massachusetts and I am in Ny/NJ area

    You need to find the right fit for you.
  • Hi the PT I attend seems really strange to me, I go in and during my hour or so session I probably have 7-10 different therapists, the first tells me what to do sets the timer and leaves, when the timer goes off another therapist comes over tells me what to do next sets the timer and leaves, this is how my entire session goes.Its like they are all responsible for everyone, and no one gets personal attention. Does anyone else have therapy like this? I think I should go somewhere else where I will get more personal attention. I have only had PT once before and it was a session done by one therapist, she was my therapist each time I went. Which way is the norm.
  • Thanks for all of your comments. I just want to make sure my progress has not been hurt. I have to humble myself and tell my doctor's office that I'm scared and tell the PT that I'm scared. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • I have had countless encounters with Pt. I had one therapist who I took a special liking to. He made it clear that with my condition, chances were we weren't going to go very far. He assured me though, he wouldn't let me get hurt anymore than I was. He with held is part of the bargain and I mine. He knew in his heart that my ROM testing and the pain signals, I was headed for surgery and this was a process to get through the insurance process. Post surgery I asked to go back to him, as he really knew what he was doing.

    Since I have a work comp injury, they have therapy places that only take work comp patients. I went into the therapy with a open mind. I assumed there is noway they would want to get someone, more hurt. Long story short from the get go, they said your restrictions don't apply here. Needless to say it took about a week, before I had failed PT and was headed back to a MRI scanner, which revealed another level had popped. The surgeon was unaware they were not following his weight restriction orders. They were not only not following them, they had patients signing papers to that fact. When I produced the papers for the surgeon, needless to say they are no longer on his list of therapist.

    My point is therapy is not supposed to cause that much pain. If a particular activity causes increased pain that day, the therapist should be able to switch up what he/she is doing. By all means call the surgeons as well. The surgeon doesn't want to see you fail, either. If something isn't right, in a therapy place, be sure to inform them. Good luck and let us know what the surgeon says. I do hope they can find you another place to continue on your road to recovery.
  • The therapist called and asked me to come in and be tested for damage. If he saw weakness or any indication of problems he'd send me to my surgeon. He didn't see any problems.

    He massaged me and did the pain unit with ice. He told me I do not have to go on my stomach and I was to tell him all that bothered me so we can work together. . He did say he needed to get my neck stretched out because my ROM is very bad and if left that way it will be permanent.

    He showed me my xray from the surgery and showed me the big screws they use. He said they use to have people in neck braces and had them hold still for a long time now that they have the plates recovery is much faster and easier because you can move your neck very soon after surgery.

    I hate taking pain medication and haven't taken any since my first week. He said that's good and bad because I guarded my head so much that I've lost 75% of my range. The pain medication would have allowed me to move a bit more. He said it will be tough for me because I'm soooo tight.

    Does that make sense?

    He was very accommodating, patient and kind. I don't want have to turn my body for the rest of my life. That will be very hard on my lower back.

    This is a tough journey. Not for the weak or timid that's for sure! We spiney's are strong people!

    I so love all of you! I truly do not know what I would have done without you.
  • The PT was very gentle and caring today. Setting limits can pay off if you're working with a good PT. I think I'm going to live!

    I can't wait until my body feels like mine. I thought the surgeon was kidding when he said it takes a year or two.

    My regular doctor said it's 3 months of hell, the next 9 months of getting better and then at a year you start to feel like you and at 2 years you are good to go. That's so hard to believe but it could be true. I was hoping to be me at about 4 to 6 months. I hope I'm right!
  • Ron- your mention of how your PT would watch you walk in... that's exactly what 'the good ones' would do to me as well. Also, 2 of my doctors (the one ankle doc and the NS)

    It was a bit disconcerting to be 'read' so easily though. I used to think that I could hide my hurts and that only I knew how much pain I was in. I know better now. It is a skill I am still working on perfecting though - the hiding part - at least as far as my work & family are concerned. I hate being considered 'injured' or a cripple.
  • The physio biz has gotten to be he "in" trend the last few years and they're popping up like mushrooms everywhere. Everyone, certified and skilled or not, is jumping on this lucrative band wagon. Any and everyone seems to be opening up shop. The good ones are few and far between and hard to find. But if you are lucky enough to find a good therapist and put in the sweat equity, it really pays off. The key is a skilled therapist, knowing your body and being ready and willing to work your butt off until you reach you goal. If you don't have good insurance, i don't know how anyone affords any PT at all!
  • It is so good to read everyone's posts...I am now finishing up PT in an effort to stave off extensive c-spine surgery as much as possible. In 2006, I had PT and in my last session the therapist gave me a very strong manual traction pull after a mobilization and I ended up with vertigo for three months..AWFUL. I told the PT now (different one) that he could not touch my neck..so he is working on the thoracic and lumbar regions which were surprisingly tight..along with strength training using weight machines to stabilize the c spine. I was skeptical about that at first, as I am not supposed to be doing lifting (do nothing overhead), but surprise of surprises, my musculature is much stronger and I have less dizziness than I had been having. I am also relearning Pilates to assist with my posture. He wanted to work on my neck manually, but I just keep refusing..I agree with all the posters..if something does not feel right..have the therapist stop and do something else.

    I've noticed that some PT offices offer 30 minutes sessions and some have 1 hour appts..Mine has only 30 minutes, which I don't really think is long enough, but then I can go to the PT gym to work out..
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