I decided to go into physical therapy school to better understand and treat my own back. I had injured my back in 1987 when I was a diver for my high school swim and dive team. During one of my dives, I landed on the diving board. My entire upper body landed on the board, while my buttocks and legs were off the board, causing me to hyperextend my back. I instantly felt an explosion of pain and thought I had broken my back.
I remember floating to the surface, not daring to breathe or move for fear I would find that my legs no longer worked. Thankfully, nothing was broken but this was the beginning of years of back problems. Within a few years, I began having neck pain as well and it was hard for me to find a comfortable position to sleep.
My First Patient
I was my first patient. After experiencing 10 years of back and neck pain, I was determined to figure out what was going on in my spine.
Graduate school helped me to gain a solid foundation of the human body and the amazing abilities we have to heal. While I loved physical therapy school, I was disappointed that I was not a master clinician at graduation, able to treat every condition with precision and exactness. PT school, as it turns out, was just the beginning. For the last 21 years I have sought out the best treatments of the spine by attending numerous continuing education courses.
I have studied the works of some of the leaders and pioneers in physical therapy. My approach is eclectic and pulls from many of the best spine therapists in the world. My skill is in my hands.
I don’t use electrical stimulation, ultrasound, or many of the modalities that other therapists utilize because the science shows these have very little, if any, affect on the actual healing of our injuries. What science does show is that our nervous system plays a much bigger role in our pain than what was previously believed.
Fortunately for me, I had an amazing professor of neurology in physical therapy school who taught me how the nervous system influences every aspect of our bodies. Her name is Dr. Darcy Umphred and she wrote the neurology book that most physical therapy schools were using at that time.
I learned many things from her but one concept in particular has shaped my understanding of pain more than anything else. This concept, as I was to find out later, is the key to unlocking our pain.
She said she would shake her head every time she heard a physical therapy say they did not work with “neuro patients,” they only worked with “orthopedic patients.” She explained, “Every patient is a neuro patient, some of them may also happen to have an orthopedic condition.”
NOTE: A “neuro patient” is typically considered someone with balance, stroke, or vestibular issues. An “orthopedic patient” is considered someone that has a musculoskeletal injury – like a sprained ankle, sports or work-related injury, etc.
Many therapists do not address the influence of the nervous system when treating orthopedic conditions and this is a big reason many fail to produce results. I combine manual therapy with targeted exercises to help the nervous system feel safe and reset, much the same way we need to reboot a computer that is not working correctly. The effect is rapid pain relief.
Relief From MY Pain
All those years ago, I remember what it was like to have severe back and neck pain, unable to find answers from doctors and other health care professionals. My fear of the unknown was almost as bad as the pain. Why did my back continue going out? Would I end up paralyzed, crippled, or in a wheelchair? Would I ever be able to run and play with my future children or participate in sports? Would I need surgery?
My search to treat myself has finally brought me the answers and relief I sought. Now I live a pain free life. I am active and love to explore the beautiful mountains in Utah. I love most all sports, especially pickup basketball, organized soccer, and skateboarding at all the skateparks. I am so happy I picked physical therapy as my profession and learned how to care for my spine.
I love helping others on their journey to healing and is why I opened SPINE PT, a clinic dedicated to healing the spine. I only hire physical therapists that are as passionate about the spine as I am.
Let SPINE PT help you live life to the fullest, pain free, and able to stay active without surgery or medications. Contact us now to start your journey of healing.