I started playing softball when I was eight years old and fell in love with pitching when I was 10. When I was 11 years old, I started having extreme amounts of back pain when playing softball, though. No matter what I tried (heat, ice, rest, etc.) the pain wouldn’t go away. After about two months of these symptoms, we went to my pediatrician and he said it was most likely a muscular issue. He recommended physical therapy. I went through two months of physical therapy and continued playing softball. Things seemed to get better for a short time but the pain kept coming back.
My mom took me to a chiropractor where x-rays were done. The chiropractor said that my hips were out of alignment and with a few adjustments and use of a cold laser on the area, I should be fine. We started that treatment. After approximately two months, I was pitching in a game. I was in tears after the fifth pitch. I could barely move because I was in such excruciating pain. My parents gave me Advil and Tylenol. Nothing made the pain even a little better. My mom called the chiropractor and insisted on an MRI. I had the MRI and CT scan done the next day. A few days later, I was sitting in Dr. Good’s office getting the news that I had a Bilateral Pars Defect at the L4. He told me that I would have to rest from softball and PE for three months. I could not even bend over and pick up clothes off the floor! It was the longest three months of my life! I then started another round of physical therapy. After two months of PT, I was feeling great! I could bend over and run! I was finally able to start softball again but always had some type of soreness in my lower back. I thought it was muscle soreness, but it would never go away. We decided to go back and see Dr. Good to be sure that the fracture wasn’t worse. They did an x-ray and showed that the fracture was not healing as it should be.
He gave me a few options:
- Rest again for another three months and then do PT again.
- Surgery in order to repair the defect. (He strongly recommended against this option).
- Perform a stem cell procedure and inject those cells directly into the fracture.
After a long discussion with my parents, I opted to do the stem cell procedure. This would hopefully allow me to continue to play the sport that I love at a high level.
I had the procedure on June 1, 2016 at only 13 years old. It was the scariest thing that I have ever experienced but it was so worth it! The nurses and Dr. Good helped me through it, every step of the way. I recovered from the procedure after wearing a corset-style back brace for three months. During this time, I could not bend over and had to be very careful. One week after the procedure, I noticed that the pain was gone! I have not experienced pain since that time! After the three month healing milestone, I was able to do PT at home and continued doing so for two months. After my appointment with Dr. Good, I was able to increase the amount of physical exercise I could do. I started doing strength and agility training several days a week and incorporated some pitching drills. After about six weeks of only strength and agility training, I started full out pitching and fielding. I am now back to my regular routine, practicing three days a week, agility training two days a week, and tournaments on the weekends. Just after my 14th birthday, I pitched my all-time fastest at 60mph! My new goal is 65mph! I will be trying out for my middle school softball team in late March.
I am now doing what I love and have NO pain!!
I have learned so much about my body and exercise throughout this entire experience. I learned to listen to my body. When there is pain, there is a reason. I have learned that stretching is so important. I now have to get to practice 30 minutes early because it takes me that long to run through my PT routine and stretch so that I feel warmed up and ready to work. I have learned that a strong core is so important for a healthy back. I can now do a three minute plank! I never thought that I would love to exercise!
If you have back pain that just does not go away, please go see Dr. Good and his team at Virginia Spine Institute! You do not need to live with the pain. Dr. Good is a friendly and honest doctor who has changed my life forever. Because of this experience, I am considering going into the field of medicine. Perhaps one day I can help someone just as Dr. Good has helped me.
Thank you to my team!
- Dr. Good - Spinal Specialist