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Physical therapy.... Will it ever end?

I have been going to physical therapy since November of last year. I go approx. once a week. The problem is that its $90 every time I go. I have used up the "free" sessions that my insurance will cover. When I don't go, my neck and shoulders get really tight and painful causing even worse headaches and head pain in the back of my head.
Has anyone else dealt with this? What are the options out there? My issues are mostly in my neck and into my shoulders, upper back in the shoulder blade area and arms. I also get issues with sciatic and my toes/feet falling asleep when I sit too long on a hard surface.

My history:
- Feb 2011- Four years of pain starting with muscle spasms in my neck, arm and shoulders that started periodically. Doctors did not help me with the situation.
-Started seeing a chiropractor in March 2014- had adjustments 2x a week, massage therapy for 6 weeks
-Had an MRI July2014- Chiropractor prescribed because of adjustments not working to ease pain. Saw my PCP and was blown off
-MRI results- Discs bulging at C4-C7, C5/C6 was fully herniated compressing the spinal cord and the nerves
-Aug 2014- Saw neurosurgeon and was diagnosed with myelopathy among other things caused by the compressed spinal cord. Doc said that they didn't know if it would help the pain from the nerve damage but it will stop the progression of the myelopathy.
Sept 2014- acdf surgery at C5/C6 for the spinal cord compression
October 2014- started getting severe headaches. Had migraine like qualities for a month straight. Was given a steroids to try to stop it but it didn't help. Started on gabapentin and cyclobenzaprine 3x day. was referred to a neurologist for the headaches. Wasn't working that well. Was taking Tylenol several times a day with no relief.
November 2014- Started physical therapy. Tried Dry needling but made the issues worse instead of better
January 2015- Neurologist diagnosed headaches as cervicogenic headaches with migraine like qualities. Started Nortryptaline working up to 50 mg. She also told me to stop taking Tylenol since it doesn't do all that much for the pain and I was taking it too often.
Present day- Meds are no longer working, headaches and neck pain are increasing, Going to physical therapy for the issues yet and going broke from all of the meds and physical therapy
Tracie C


  • To answer the original question
    There comes a point in time where the treatments cease recovery
    And become pallative

    This is the point where you begin to see Part...of what your life ahead will be like
    Not entirely painfull,but uncomfortable
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • The glimpses of this life in the long term is hard to take. Deep down I know its going to be this way, It just sucks.
    Tracie C
  • PlumbTuckeredOutPlumbTuckeredOut Philadelphia, PAPosts: 325
    I'd have to say that if I looked at my life over the long haul it would make a tragic drama. I definitely cannot look at things like this because I'd get so down in the dumps I'd never get my chin out of the sand.
    I choose to remember incidents where I got to laugh or had a good time. The process of thinking is a voluntary mental action where we get to see and remember the bad stuff but, trying hard not to remember something will make that memory all the stronger.
    I have a feeling that this coming week is going to be hellish but I only need to get through each hour one at a time. It the hours are slamming me, then I can look at time in smaller increments. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Take time to breathe deeply and smell the roses.

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by...... (Robert Frost)
    I still don't know if I should have taken the one that said, "Caution! Dead End" (Me)
  • Great advise Sheila! I totally agree. My parents are very different. They can tell the same story that they both share. More often than not it will be a funny or at least positive story the way my Dad tells it but quite the opposite from my Mum. They're both incredible, lovely people but my Dad was blessed with this ability to focus on the rainbows & rewrite history if necessary to forget the rain. My Mums had a hard life, my Dads had a mostly great life...it's all about perspective. Isn't everything in life?? ;-)

    I read something by the Dalai Lama years ago. I think it was called "The Art of Happiness". I've read a few times that if you force an attitude, push out anger, bitterness etc & force positivity it becomes a habit, it becomes 'you' relatively quickly. (can't remember how many weeks). You can become the 'you' that you want to be, within reason.

    From a pain perspective I find it so much easier to manage my thoughts & attitude when I have my pain reasonably well managed. I know I'll always be in pain, I can handle a flare but if my pain spikes above a certain limit or lasts too long the demons sense weakness & start to creep in.

    Have you tried meditation or visualization to manage your pain? I started when I read that it can increase gray matter in our brains reducing pain perception, anxiety, depression etc. (I don't care if it's true or not) studies show chronic pain can reduce gray matter & taking some time to breath, to focus, using aromatherapy oils etc has become part of my 'Blend' & I feel like it helps in my over-all pain management, brain management program.

    I sound like a bit of a hippie but if it works, even a little bit, I keep doing it....

    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Rtconant1. On the subject of physical therapy. Have they taught you stretching & exercise routines to do at home? To begin with I did 9 months, 3 times a week of bad physical therapy & it cost me a fortune!! Not to be a quitter I found another therapist & he was great! He strongly believed that it should be a way of life & his job was to teach me to do it by myself. For years now I've only gone back when things have changed a lot & I need advise to tweak my routine. It's worked for me & my bank balance....
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    I am a firm believer in physical therapy. Without some of that work I would be in a much worse situation.

    However, I also strongly feel that there are limits regarding PT activity and to the actual therapist.

    I have been going to various PT centers and different therapists since 1978. I have had good and I have had bad. I almost gave up with PT , but around 2000, I went had a therapist like no other. She was a 67 year old woman who used soft techniques, infrared heat, and water therapy. That was unique for that timeframe. She had two therapists that she molded. I started seeing this therapist in 2002 through 2009, after that I started seeing the othe therapist that the older woman molded. I am still seeing this therapist today.
    My point in saying all of this is that it is so important to have the right therapist and stay with them. My therapist knows my body better than I do. When I walk in she an pinpoint what's wrong at the time. She then treats me accordingly. If that means going outside the "norm" treatments she will.

    Irreplaceable in mind that most therapists are folks in excellent physical condition. Some of them forget they are treating someone that has physical problems. Those types have the view "no pain, no gain". So they push and. Push, at times when it creates negative results. That's when you have to say "no"

    A great therapist will know when PT is no longer helping you and work with you for other options.

    So what I am really saying is the overall positive value of Physical Therapy really is in the hands of the therapist. So finding the right therapist and staying with them is the key

    I apologize for errors in this post. I am using my iPhone to do this while I am laying in bed with my surgically repaired achillea tendon is mending.
    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
  • He has been giving me several stretches to try. I have been trying to do as many as possible. I think that it might be time to look at other options. I have a neurology appointment and physical therapy on Thursday. I will be discussing with both on my options since things really are not working.
    Tracie C
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