Living with Chronic Back Pain: Part 4

Reinventing Myself

Living with chronic back and leg pain

By Cathy Smith

Part 4: Breaking Through with ART and Myofascial Release

One thing I quickly learned during my recovery was that I needed to fend for myself and come up with alternative treatments to try to break through the spasms/tight muscles and pain. The main treatment offered by my pain management doctor was epidurals (which did not work). Through internet searches, I learned about ART (Active Release Technique) that breaks through scar tissue. Practicing ART requires training and certification in the technique and is usually done by a Chiropractor or physical therapist. I found a local chiropractor and began weekly ART sessions. I quickly saw results. After a month of treatment, hope returned that I would get out of this pain cycle and have an active life again. After 2 months of ART treatments, I starting adding in myofascial release (releases tension in the fascia) to further help break up adhesions and regain some flexibility. By the summer of 2017, I was up and about and actually tried swinging a golf club and tennis racquet. Although both of these activities did not end well (brought on increased pain and tightness), at least I felt well enough to try. And, I was now walking and biking.

I should note, my sister is a physical therapist and had me working on nerve glides and core work immediately after my surgery. I have a core stabilization program I do every day. I will share some of my key exercises in future posts. I firmly believe that a strong core is key but if your back is locked up (as mine was), no amount of core stabilization exercises will set you free.

ART set me free and started my recovery on a positive path. Myofascial Release further increased my flexibility. What worked for me may not work for others but I think it is worth sharing alternative treatments, what worked and what didn’t.

Note: Epidurals at L4/L5 originally did not provide any relief but I am now seeing a new pain management doctor and have had success with both epidurals and facet injections. I will discuss more in a future post.

** This is my own personal experience. Consult your doctor before trying ART or Myofascial Release. **

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