What to expect in Physical Therapy?

Physical Therapy Summer Work May 26, 2012

Injury Update: Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis March 15, 2012

Life before December 2008:

12+ years of:


5x a week of:


Teaching cardio box+ 5 am boot camp= Spondylolysis (Pars Fracture of the Spine)

I was the girl that could workout for hours at a time and never face an injury and that all changed in 2008. My first broken bone was a spine fracture. I really would have been alright with a broken arm, but in true Super Sana Fashion, I had to be dramatic.


image [Source]

The hardest part about being injured for me was the fact that I ignored the pain for about a full year, and when I finally did something about it I was misdiagnosed.

What I hope people gain from reading my story, is to never stop until YOU get the results you want.

Dec. 2008– I was sick for a week with “mono” ( quotes because I had the symptoms but the test was negative)

– I felt some pain in my lower back, but I was laying down for a week I figured it was nothing.

-I was busy with finals week oh did I mention I also had bronchitis?

We were good friends with the Dr. at this point and we realized that we did not like her. Due to insurance conditions we could not switch doctors if we had seen them within a month. Because I kept getting sick I had to stay with her.

Finally when it hurt to bend down and brush my teeth I went to my doctor- after pounding my lower back she sent me home with a prescription for 800mg of Ibuprofen 3X a day. And muscle relaxants….

– I don’t like taking drugs for anything but cramps- I had a bad reaction to a cough medicine and I am now terrified of any sort of medication.

I decided to take one pill a day and I felt a bit better until the effects wore off.

At this point, I had stopped doing my own workout- but I was still teaching cardio box…. (Mistake)

I would feel my back in pain when I did jumping jacks- or anything that required impact. So I would demonstrate for one or two reps and then cue my classes to continue on. This worked out pretty well, I was able to keep teaching and not “hurt”

-Not sure if this was a good idea but, it worked.

I went back to the doctor and she sent me to a spine surgeon, after more poking and pounding my spine I was “diagnosed” with a bulging disc  and sent to physical therapy.

At this point I was having trouble lifting my legs to put my pants on, sitting and using my laptop hurt. I would also have shooting nerve pain down my legs. It was not a burning or tingling feeling- it was more of an uncomfortable sensation.

It honestly felt like I had broken my butt or something…

My general doctor also wanted me to have an MRI- but the insurance denied this because I was not in any sort of car accident or other trauma.


Summer 2009- So while taking two summer classes ( Physics and Organic Lab) as well as teaching boot camp.

I started physical therapy for my ” disc” problem- I was going 2X a week. Along with back extensions to move the disc back in place I was getting ice and electrode therapy.

I was disappointed that nothing was helping, but I decided to stick with it because it might work out in the end.

Meanwhile my symptoms were getting worse, I could not sit or walk for long. Sitting for long like driving caused a tingling nerve pain down my legs. And bending down to tie my shoes was out of the question

I went back to my spine surgeon at the end of the summer for some more options.

Option #1 MRI

Option#2 Steroid Pack ( to reduce nerve inflammation)

I went with the open MRI.


Yeah- it looks totally harmless, but I am not ashamed to admit I had a panic attack in the middle of the MRI and I wanted to stop. I did not have my contacts on so I could not see that I was not as trapped as I felt. However, their was no way to stop the test and have me come back another day. So my mom came in and sat next to me and I was able to finish it.

The results of the MRI showed that I had Spondylolysis (Pars Fracture of the Spine). This is not the same thing as the disc problem I went to PT for. In fact all the exercises I was doing- worsen the condition that I do have.

Well my doctor called me over the phone and told me to exercise by walking up hill and that I should be better in 6-8weeks.

6-8 weeks later– I was NOT better and still miserable and so I went back to the doctor.

Here were my options:

Option #2 Steroid Pack ( to reduce nerve inflammation)

Option #3 Back brace

I went with the back brace.


Meet turtle!

image  I wore the back brace and took the steroid pack for 6-8 weeks. And honestly that improved my back pain by 90%

The other 10% is what I deal with today. Some day’s are good while others are bad. Standing up for long periods of time are not fun and my back stiffens up pretty quickly. However, this is nothing compared to the pain I felt when I was not treated by the back brace.

Our bodies are special and should be taken care of, we are our biggest advocates and have to step it up if we want the care that we deserve and need.

Moral of the story: Keep going back to the doctor until you get the RIGHT solution. Being injury and pain free is worth it.

21 Responses to Recovery

  1. run4fun11 says:

    I’m sorry about your back pain, I hope you get better very soon! I just came across your blog and wowwww we have so much in common! I’m 20 and i’ll be commuting to college too this upcoming semester. I like running and I really want to maintain a healthy lifestyle even in school!! it can be hard with all that studying and other activities..

  2. bHealthier says:

    wow! sorry to hear about your back pain! I have endured many injuries from high school volleyball , gymnastics through college track and then college cheerleading as well! so I can sympathize but it sounds like you have a severe injury!

    in college I lived off campus and didn’t have a car- so for keeping meals healthy I turned to frozen fruits and frozen veggies, which last forever and can be added to a gazilllion things like cereals, soups, oatmeal, smoothies – etc.

    Hope you have a speedy recovery!

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog. You have an awesome one yourself. Can’t wait to catch up on it. Hope your back problem makes a speedy recovery.

  4. Camille says:

    Knowing what is hurting your body is always a bit of a relief.
    Your body is forgiving and it will make things right again!
    Keep at it girl, you are a rock star!

  5. tom says:

    the dude from omegle thinks your cool…

  6. lisa says:

    hi sana! you have such a nice story. :) i;m in college too and trying to teach myself how to prepare good meals and bring them with me to my commute to school. sometimes all of it is really tough, so i see where you’re coming from. But i’m glad I came across your blog!

  7. Emily says:

    I was so excited to find your blog we have a lot in common!! When i was in high school I played volleyball about 5 hours day, it was my life. After about 4 weeks of unbearable back pain my senior year, I finally went to a chiropractor who took x-rays and told me I had 2 fractures in my L5. I wore a back brace for 2 month ( which I named turtle). I still have back pain that is unbearable sometimes but I have managed to control it some by laying off competitive volleyball. I appreciate you telling your story, very inspiring!

    • Sana says:

      Did you have the same back brace???? My back still hurts but nothing like what it used to because I totally stopped working out. You should e-mail me, I feel like we can start a support group.

  8. Nicole says:

    I have never read this before—what a nightmare! I’m glad to hear you’ve regained some sense of normalcy. I’ve gone through a similar situation with a hamstring injury and most recently, a neck injury. Pain is a bitch!

    • Sana says:

      Yeah, I don’t know what “normal” is, I am still dealing with the injury today and I have an appt with a different doctor tomm.(blah)

      I think the hardest thing for me has been dealing with what has happened mentally. I am perfectly healthy but I am still physically impaired and might be forever.

      However, I am super thankful that I can do day-to day activities. It can always be worse.
      Yikes, I hope your neck feels better :(

  9. Jess says:

    I have the same problem with my back. I have two stress fractures L4 and L5. I also had crazy scoliosis and ended up with a fused back. I love working out also! I just wanted to say keep up the great work, because exercise totally helps (as long as you don’t over do it). Great blog! X

    • Sana says:

      Yikes. Back issues are no fun :( I hope you are feeling better! I don’t over do it at all- I appreciate what I can do sooo much more now!

  10. wow, this is an amazing story. I am going going through some back problems, L4-L5 herniated disc confirmed by an MRI, an although your injury is totally different than mine, it is good to hear that you are 90% better :) And I can totally relate to taking Organic Lab with back pain…..its terrible! Your story is amazing, thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Pingback: 5 Lessons on Injury

  12. Omy goodness Sana, what a crazy story you have! It’s pretty scary if I’m honest with myself, because I never even thought of the possibility of a fractured spine unless I were to jump from great heights. I have to say that you are soooo strong and I love how you’re inspiring and helping others by hopefully preventing this from happening to them. Keep up the good work–bless your heart! :)

    • Sana says:

      Yeah the whole injury is so strange because I have no idea how it even happened. But the good news is that I can still be active just not as intense as before.
      Thanks :)

  13. Bess says:

    “Hurt when I bent over to brush my teeth.” Yep, I feel ya’ sister! So glad I got my Pars fracture diagnosis early rather than going through what you did. Best of luck with the rehab!

  14. This is an amazing story with a good lesson in it, thanks for sharing! I’m so glad I found your blog, thanks to Julie from PBFINGERS! Whoop whoop! :)

  15. masala girl says:

    wow, that’s such a long process! i would feel so discouraged. i’m so glad you finally figured it out, but it… really sucks (for lack of better words!) that your doctors and insurance weren’t very cooperative :(
    i have minor scoliosis and general body problems from gymnastics, so i can understand where your are now, but that was A LOT to deal with before :(

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