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Alison - facet joint disease

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Aged 41, Facet Joint Disease of the spine and 'slipped' discs.

Alison41 year old Alison had suffered from 4 years of severe back pain which had begun when lifting something awkwardly. She was diagnosed with Facet Joint Disease and had tried a number of treatments unsuccessfully. E.g. Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Hydrocortisone injections, Pain Management Clinic, nerve pain block, cryotherapy etc.

When Alison attended for an assessment she was in constant pain despite being on morphine and she had been unable to work for over 2 years. Her life was severely restricted, she had put on a lot of weight and she was unable to travel, which she used to do a lot. She had also had to give up driving due to severe episodes of anaphylactic shock that she had suffered from for 9 months. She had to inject herself with adrenalin regularly as tests had been unable to find out what she was allergic to.

Within days she was off the morphine, within 6 weeks she was completely mobile and predominantly pain free and had not had any further episodes of anaphylactic shock since her first appointment. Within 4 months she had joined in a 10k run, lost weight, was back working and enjoying life again. The following is a press release written about her recovery, followed by a letter from Alison herself.

From 4 years of severe back pain to pain free and running 10k!

Just 5 months ago Alison Price* from Sheffield was at desperation point with back pain and sciatica, despite high doses of pain medication, including morphine. Within weeks of following a pioneering programme for pain relief inYorkshire, Alison first began aquarobics and then more energetic exercise classes at her local gym. Within 4 months she had completed a 10k run raising £200 for Cancer Research UK, has lost 3 stone, is back working in their family business again and now that she is free of the debilitating pain she had had for 4 years she is about to complete another goal of flying abroad on holiday.

Alison and others who have learned about this self-help programme now use their new understanding to prevent future stress-related health problems which with Christmas coming up, everyone would benefit from!  Alison’s problems began 4 years ago when she injured her back while lifting.  Since that time, despite seeing a Specialist and Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, plus trying treatments such as Cryotherapy and nerve blocks into her spine, nothing had given her more than a few days ease of pain. She was diagnosed with Facet Joint Disease and due to the pain she was unable to work or do all the other activities she loved, such as scuba diving and skiing and ultimately she began to pile on weight.

Just over 3 months ago Alison’s Osteopath mentioned a book written by Dr John Sarno in New York, which explains Dr Sarno’s pioneering work with chronic pain, called Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS). Alison read the book, realized that this may be the answer to her pain and then found that despite the lack of awareness in the UK about this approach, there was a Specialist not too far from her.

Alison was unable to drive very far at the time due not only to the pain, but the fear of having another anaphylactic shock which she had begun suffering from since October 2007 for which the Doctors could find no reason. Her husband therefore drove her to her first consultation with Georgina Oldfield, the Chartered Physiotherapist who runs the Pain Relief Centre inHuddersfield, and they returned the following week to attend a lecture.

From that day on Alison made rapid progress on the TMS Recovery programme, run from the Pain Relief Centre, and in September she completed a 10k run, which was just one of the goals she had set to help motivate her during her recovery.

Alison says, “I quickly accepted the principles of the programme and decided to start with some gentle exercise to test the TMS theory that it wasn’t the facet joint disease or slipped discs causing the pain, but the pain was caused unconsciously to protect me from having to deal with the stresses in my life. When the pain didn’t increase after starting aquarobics it gave me the confidence to do more and more and gradually the pain became easier and even the anaphylactic shock episodes I had been experiencing over the previous few months just stopped soon after my first visit to Georgie.”

Alison’s update letter to Georgie, 3 months after her initial assessment

“I am still in training for the 10k with less than 4 weeks to go! Aaaaaargh! I am now attending at least 2 fitness classes A DAY (sometimes 3!) to try and boost my aerobic fitness but my weight doesn't seem to want to shift so running is still very difficult - it is like running whilst carrying a small child! I am sure I will get there if I can shift another stone by Sunday 21st September! Even though my weight doesn't want to leave me (it has become very attached!!) I have gone down in size from a size 22 to a size 18 though, which is amazing!

We cancelled our holiday abroad a while ago because I was worried about anaphylactic shock, however since starting the TMS programme I have not had a severe shock (a couple of lesser reactions) - which again is another milestone. My confidence on that score has increased and I have decided to set another goal (which hopefully will not be too far away) which is to book a last minute trip abroad as soon as I reach a size 16.

I have found setting myself goals as part of my recovery works really well. After diagnosis my first goal was to go to the gym. Being so overweight because of inactivity for 4 years and (up until this point) being in so much pain because of my back this was a huge step. But I decided to listen to my body, not what the doctors told me I should and shouldn't do, and it worked. I did aqua aerobics and went on from there.

My second goal was to get myself back into business. We run our own business which my husband has had to manage on his own for such a long time. Being away from the business for so long meant I had lost a lot of self confidence which made it even more difficult to want to go back. However after a couple of hours my confidence started to grow and I have now managed to get us in front of a major player who has agreed to use us - which will double the size of our little company - so I AM BACK!!!!

My third goal, as you know, is something really major. To run the 10k. When I decided to do this I was still struggling up a flight of stairs. Now I am happy to say I do at least 2 hours pain free exercise 5 days a week and I can run over 1k already - so I will be able to do the 10k in 4 weeks (albeit very slowly!).

My fourth goal is to go abroad. Up until 4 years ago we went away every couple of months as we are keen travellers. When I first slipped the discs in my back we stopped going as frequently and we did less adventurous things (I used to ski and scuba dive and enjoyed safari's. I ended up watching the rest of the family do it while I sat on the sidelines). Even when we did go away I felt so self conscious because I had leapt to a size 22 and found the seats too small on the plane. We have booked and cancelled many trips because of my back, and more recently, the anaphylaxis.

Now I have decided as soon as I hit a size 16 we are on that plane!! One dress size to go!! It should be October -ish and I hope to scuba dive. We have already booked a two week trip toCanadain March to ski. I set one goal at a time and as soon as I near completion of a goal I set another. I found this helps focus my mind on getting better and it always gives me something to look forward to.

Kind regards

Alison

p.s I am still rubbish at journaling. I still do it in my head and tell myself off!! No major twinges or anaphylactic shock since our last meeting

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