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A little physical therapy to avoid surgery

samjordan_temlateBy Samantha Jordan DPT, OCS, CSCS – Physical Therapist at The Orthopedic Institute at Southwest Health

Jim Hying of Muscoda, Wisconsin had been dealing with pain in his lower back off and on since the 80s. At 75 years old, he’d tried everything he could think of the help alleviate the, sometimes severe, back pain. Then, last winter it took a turn for the worse when Jim accidentally took a three foot step the wrong way. Jim saw his physician and tried pain medication for what was described to him as a pinched nerve, but he found little to no relief.

Jim’s pain kept him from being able to live his life, and work on his farm. He had pain with most movements, difficulty walking, getting in and out of bed, and even reaching forward to open a door. His physician referred him to a spinal surgery center for a potential surgical fix. But prior to surgery, Jim had to agree to try six months of physical therapy. He was skeptical. If it hurt worse to move he could not see how therapy would help relieve the pain, but he knew he had to try something.

Jim faithfully drove his two hour round trip from his home to Southwest Health twice a week for his physical therapy appointments with Samantha Jordan, DPT, OCS, CSCS. Samantha worked with him on exercises to improve his strength and flexibility as well as education on how to perform daily activities safely without increasing his back pain.

“I was skeptical about this whole process, but I knew I needed to complete it in order to get the surgery to fix my back. At my first visit, Sam explained that she wasn’t going to hurt me and that her goal was to get me up and going again,” says Jim.

Jim completed nine visits over the course of five weeks and when he was finished he reported a 90% improvement in his ability to perform his daily tasks.

“I don’t need surgery anymore. My back hasn’t felt this good in over 30 years.” Jim adds, “I can lift a 50 pound bag of fertilizer with no pain at all.”

Research has proven that physical therapy is one of the best early interventions for low back pain. Beginning physical therapy early in the process of managing low back pain maximizes patient improvement and reduces the total cost of healthcare.

“It is our goal as therapists to help patients reach their maximum potential to return to the activities they enjoy” says Samantha.

For causes of low back pain which do not require surgery, it has been shown that the total cost of healthcare for the episode of low back pain increases the longer it takes for the patient to begin physical therapy.

Says Jim, “I still do the exercises she taught me to this day. This was a treatment that worked!”

Samantha Jordan earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. She is also an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist. Samantha specializes in the Graston Technique, Evaluation and prescription of custom shoe orthotics, WorkWell Functional Capacity Evaluations and return to work evaluations. In addition to performing physical therapy at the Orthopedic Institute, Samantha teaches a running clinic to help runners improve their form and performance level. She is an avid runner herself and enjoys working in sports medicine.

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