By Elite Patient: Suzanne Mucha
I pride myself on being a very active and fit person for my age. I have exercised since my early 20’s and when I was in my early 40’s changed over to crossfit and running. Over the past year, I had been struggling in my workouts because I had been having pain in my buttocks, hip, leg and sciatic pain. My injury was caused from not stretching enough and regularly when exercising, probably a little over doing it when exercising and an old injury I never really tended to properly. I never quit exercising because even though it hurt and was uncomfortable – I believe that inactivity is even more of an enemy. Prior treatment for my piriformis injury included taking Celebrex, NSAIDs and a regiment of ice and heat.
Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance. It is also used in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs — in short, in almost every motion of the hips and legs.
The sciatic nerve is a thick and long nerve in the body. It passes alongside or goes through the piriformis muscle, goes down the back of the leg, and eventually branches off into smaller nerves that end in the feet. Nerve compression can be caused by spasm of the piriformis muscle.
The pain and discomfort seemed to be getting worse and causing me to be in pain during my workouts and not being able to achieve my goals. Not only was my active lifestyle being affected but also my everyday life was too… I was miserable! I decided to try physical therapy to get some pain relief. My father had recently had some miraculous results from Elite Physical Therapy. My father is 81 years old and he had broken both legs – 6 months apart! It was a rough road! One doctor had told him he wouldn’t ever be able to get out of a wheelchair again. But he saw life changing progress through getting PT at Elite. They worked with him diligently and now…. he is walking with a walker! He has his mobility back and his life back! I knew if they could help him so dramatically, Elite PT could surely help me.
I didn’t have a referral from my doctor but I didn’t need one because PT in Louisiana is DIRECT ACCESS* – meaning I don’t need one and can get “direct access” to therapy.
Direct access refers to the ability of patients to be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without being referred by a doctor or other healthcare practitioner. If you feel you have a problem that may benefit from the skilled services of a physical therapist, you may be able to refer yourself to physical therapy for treatment. Sometimes direct access is called self-referral.
I just called Elite and made an appointment. They handled all my insurance, and everything was explained and super easy. I got in to see therapist, Juliana Meeker, DPT, the next day after I called. Juliana evaluated me on the first visit and helped figure out the root CAUSE of the piriformis and sciatic pain I was having. Within the first few visits of physical therapy, I already had good advice about my posture, an over compensation in my gait (fancy word for the way I walk!) and about adding a lift in my shoe to even out my hips. Julianna was the bomb! The stretching and little things that we think are ridiculous really work. Some of the stretches you can continue to do at home.
Juliana Meeker, DPT, stated about the initial evaluation, ”During my initial evaluation with Suzanne, I looked at her motion throughout her entire body. I found that her hip and leg pain was just a symptom of her posture and wear and tear. Her posture needed some work in multiple joints due to a lot of very tight muscles, and even possibly some age specific changes and genetic predispositions she had. I could tell which muscles she focused on in her work outs, and which ones she neglected to stretch. Over the last few months, we worked at getting her to move better with stretches, various strengthening exercises and therapeutic movements – reassessing each session to make sure we were on the right track.”
Juliana has been treating me with manual therapy and an emphasis on stretching. The stretching SUCKS… but totally in a good way that makes you feel better when it’s over! It is something so simple that I should and could have been doing all the time that makes such a big difference. People just don’t take the time to stretch properly and our bodies get all tight and tense and injuries happen. I’m so glad I have now learned at PT what stretches work best for me and how to do them properly.
I also got Dry Needling at Elite from Marcus Walker, DPT. My workout friends had kept telling me to get dry needling but I wasn’t so sure about someone sticking needles in me! They promised me it wasn’t terrible and that it would help dramatically. They were right! The needles are so thin you don’t even feel them. You just feel pressure and twitching in your muscles and that’s how you know it’s working! You can get needled if you have pain just about anywhere. It works great for muscle tightness and pain that limits you. My friends have had it done for their elbow, headaches, low back pain, and sciatic pain – same as me. I feel like dry needling played a major role in my recovery!
Dry needling is a treatment technique, in which small filament type needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points (known as painful knots in muscles), tendons, ligaments, or near nerves in order to stimulate a healing response with the goal of permanently reducing pain and dysfunction.
I have been coming to Elite for about 8 weeks now and I can absolutely say I feel 100% better. I had clear goals for physical therapy: TO BE PAIN FREE and to learn what I could do to STAY PAIN FREE! I have learned a lot about MY body and where I compensate here and there. I have learned what to do to keep my body mobile and without pain and WITHOUT MEDS!
I would tell anyone out there who is in pain, hurting, aching that you don’t have to put up with it. You don’t have to “bear” it or pop ibuprofen constantly. There is nothing to lose to try physical therapy – and with DIRECT ACCESS you can do it easy! It’s a phone call. It’s easy. And you don’t need to be an athlete or someone in good shape to benefit from PT. It actually helps those who aren’t (like my father) the most! Just do what they say to do – even if you think it’s dumb 😊- and you will get pain relief. I know I did! Remember mobility is the key to a healthy life…..mentally and physically. Take everything they teach you there and incorporate it in your life. Remember we are in charge of our life and our health. Nobody is going to make you stretch – make you more mobile – tell you that at any age you should be able to squat down…….it is your life……….take control….take my advice……Call Elite……YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
Per Louisiana law, a physician referral is not required for a physical therapist to evaluate or treat a patient, and there are no provisions to treatment. Patients can go directly to physical therapy without a referral from their PCP or specialist. Many insurance programs allow this, but a patient should be sure to check their individual plan as all plans are different.
“Direct Access has been found to save people money and provides a more efficient path for patients to improve their health,” says Bart Jones, DPT and owner at Elite Physical Therapy, citing a study on the cost-effectiveness of Direct Access to PT. “And if therapists don’t see progress within the first few visits, they can refer the patient back to their PCP if needed.”
If you too want to feel better and get pain relief for all your aches and pains, call Elite Physical Therapy today at 318-443-3311. One of our physical therapist will evaluate YOUR pain and give you an individualized plan so you too can get back to living your life to the fullest!