Bushey-based sports therapist and rehabilitation specialist Jane Collins considers some conservative solutions to address pain and reduced mobility, using clinical Pilates methods
Back with a future!
Back pain is most likely to present itself in the mid 40s as a result of hereditary conditions, injuries from accidents, sporting injuries, incorrect lifting or repetitive strain, trauma from operations, obesity, lack of exercise and poor posture.
Spinal issues can result in a prolapsed (slipped) disc or a stenosis where the disc impinges the spinal cord, often coupled with sciatica, causing pain in the leg.
Prior to an operation which will still leave the patient in discomfort, often for many months, a consultant may administer injections to lessen the pain. This will mostly be limited to three or four injections after which the muscle can begin to deteriorate.
Whilst these injections will not address the underlying condition, this period of respite permits an opportunity for a conservative approach of rehabilitationary exercises which would otherwise be too painful. Many leading orthopaedic consultants that my patients are referred to tend to agree with this approach, especially with clinical Pilates administered by an appropriately medically trained therapist, often removing the need for risky surgical procedures.
In such cases I compile a bespoke programme of exercises for each patient, depending on the direction of the prolapse, the location (neck, mid-back, lumbar) and their physical ability.
Initial exercises are on the clinical Pilates machines, working on core stability and strengthening the affected muscles. This is reinforced by exercises that the patient can follow at home between sessions. For those with a tendency for back pain I also offer ‘prehab’ – that is exercise programmes to help prevent the onset.
Mr M.S., a photographer, suffered with chronic back and neck pain. He had been treated by numerous practitioners before coming to me, but none identified the root cause. Following my programme, he now has had longer lasting relief. He states “Since attending Jane’s clinic I have greater mobility and can function in my work with far greater ease, through her approach”.
Sometimes surgery is unavoidable as in the case of Ms. E. K., a teaching assistant. Following the operation, she underwent an intensive programme of clinical Pilates. In just six weeks her spine was stable and she was fully functional, leading a normal life without the need for a spinal fusion. She said “My Pilates sessions have not only improved the health of my spine but also my general well-being and state of mind.”
The second most common pain that I encounter is arthritis where joints become painful, preventing free movement and a barrier to mobility and independence affecting walking, climbing stairs, driving and activities of daily life. Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint in the body, but most often affecting the knee and hip.
Osteoarthritis can also be helped with Pilates rehabilitation exercises. These are aimed at reducing pain and strengthening muscles around the diseased joint so that if a replacement joint is required, the muscles are stronger and the recovery period is accelerated. These exercises can be preventative and are proven to stem the onset of osteoarthritis and reduce pain.
Mrs L.L. from Bushey had undergone weekly physio sessions for a number of years before coming to me. She recognised that the physiotherapy just masked the stiffness, whereas the clinical Pilates took the pain and stiffness away. She claims: “It has changed my file and I feel like I am 20 again!”
Poor posture is a contributing factor to various conditions including spinal pain, specifically neck and shoulders, whilst compressing the vital organs and inhibiting respiration. Clinical Pilates helps patients achieve improvement in posture and improved levels of fitness, performance and general well-being.
My conservative approach to pain provides a solution for conditions that are likely to affect practically every member of the community as the population ages.