I was diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis at the age of five. I wore numerous braces over the years and then had a spinal fusion at age ten. I was fused T7-11 and T4-L2 with two rods and a bunch of hardware. I was pain free before and right after my fusion up until several years later. It was during high school that I started to experience severe pain at times while walking, lying down, sleeping and doing normal everyday activities including my favorite thing -- horseback riding. The loss of sleep was causing a huge impact on my life because I couldn’t think or focus during school. I was able to finish high school and went to college, but eventually dropped out because my pain had gotten so bad it was affecting me during school again. I couldn’t walk to classes and was so far behind.
I tried different local doctors during these years, but nothing helped. I tried injections, different medications, physical therapy … nothing worked. I would lay around and then I thought “This can’t be me at 22 years old. I need to do something”. This finally forced me to do some research and find a specialist close to us. I decided to look on National Scoliosis Foundation website to find a specialist in our area and found Dr. Good at Virginia Spine Institute. On their website I found a patient success story of a girl my age that had had a spinal fusion and continued riding horses. I will never give up riding so I felt Virginia Spine Institute could finally help me!
My parents were skeptical at first, but knew I needed a second opinion to get my life back on track. When I first met with Dr. Good he looked at my x-rays and didn’t find anything unusual with the hardware from my first spinal fusion. We were back to trying different types of treatments but I actually loved his “let’s try this before that” attitude because I didn’t want to have more surgery! We tried different treatments including physical therapy, massage, dry needling, craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, medication – and some were effective and others weren’t. Eventually we found the perfect mixture – massage, dry-needling, and craniosacral therapy helped my back with the severe muscular pain I experience at times. Dr. Good also suggested I work with Pain Management Specialist Dr. Bharara. The combination of these treatments and my work with Dr. Bharara has allowed me to return to school full time and continue doing what I love, riding horses. Recently I was even able to do what NO ONE would have ever imaged – I rode my first 25-mile endurance ride with our Arabian pony.
My experience at VSI has been great and like no other place. The doctors, physician assistants, and even the front desk/office staff have all been really nice and caring. They will go the extra mile to help you out when you need it.
My advice for those experiencing severe back pain, or dealing with scoliosis is to never ever give up! Continue trying different things no matter how bad you want to give up because something will definitely come along and help you. I had said years ago that I was never going to get better and that it would be impossible for me to finish college, but I was wrong. Dr. Good tried different treatments with me, found out what worked best and now I'm doing what I never imagined possible – finishing college and horseback riding!