Building a hen run for his son in the backyard ended in disaster for project supervisor Alan Reeves. After slipping on one of the fenceposts, Reeves landed flat on his back, unable to get up and in extreme agony.
“I just lay there until I managed to crawl inside and get help. I spent the entire weekend hobbling around and thought I’d be right.”
But a trip to the chiropractor confirmed the worst, and a visit to a specialist was recommended. Subsequently, Reeves was told he would never fully recover, and was left feeling more than a little defeated.
“The pain got worse and worse, I kept getting cramp. It was absolutely horrible. I had no feeling in my foot for about a year and a half.”
After looking at the results of the scan and discussing the situation with the clinical team, it was decided that surgery was necessary and a posterior lumbar interbody fusion was carried out to create space for the nerve and ensure the spine was more stable.
The fact that an existing injury had flared up certainly struck a nerve with Reeves. “The first time I had my surgery, I had no physio and I wish I had.”
At the time, Reeves had been unaware of how much difference physiotherapy would actually make to speed up the recovery process. Committed to restoring himself to full health as quickly as possible, Reeves became completely dedicated to getting himself back on track.
The surgery was extremely successful, and the results were almost immediate. With his back function improving every day, Reeves has been amazed with the level of success of the treatment process. “I could actually walk,” says Reeves.
Post-operative care and assessing the level of pain Reeves was experiencing were a huge part of becoming fully mobile again. Working out in the gym with exercise therapist Jo Timmerman to
Persuaded by the nurse at the construction company he works for, Reeves sought a second opinion from the team at The Back Institute (TBI Health).
Orthopaedic spinal surgeon Peter Robertson ordered a CT and MRI scan that revealed the source of the problem. “Because the joint hadn’t healed properly (from a previous operation 20 years earlier), bone spurs had developed and these were pinching directly onto a nerve. Alan was reluctant to move his back because it caused significant pain,” Robertson says.
Strengthening his back was a crucial part of the treatment. The gym programme was uniquely designed to help Reeves perform his work duties in a controlled manner.
With his back function improving every day, Reeves has been amazed with the level of success of the treatment process. He has a new confidence, a spring in his step, and is enjoying life to the fullest, and there’s no doubt his quality of life has been vastly improved. “I have no pain whatsoever. I’m getting more and more movement and I feel on top of the world.”
Tip for managing your back problem
If sitting aggravates your back pain:
- Change your seating position regularly and use a lumbar roll and/or ergonomic chair to support your spine.
- Learn to self manage your back pain. A routine of simple exercises can be very effective in relieving spinal pain and maintaining your core strength.
A positive attitude and supportive friends and family can be very helpful when recovering from a back problem. It may take a while to recover – but keep a note of your achievements and don’t forget to celebrate the progress you are making!
Most back problems settle down over time. If you feel you are not improving, or you are getting concerned or anxious about your back pain, seek help from a qualified health professional.