What advice would you give someone else with your condition?
Don't wait! I was terrified of the back surgery. I was going to back out! I am so glad that I didn't. Listen to what they have to say. See the physical therapists at VSI. The therapy that you get there is like no other. You will get a clear and concise explanation of what is happening and what they can do for you...as well as what you can do for yourself!
For my shoulder injury:
Shoulders are a different kind of joint. Surgeries are not always as successful as a knee or a hip. You lose NOTHING by trying Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). Surgery can always still be an option, but the risks of PRP are so minimal. Just go in and talk to Dr. Bharara. He will lay it out for you! You can't go wrong by getting all the information.
You always want to go with the least invasive way to correct a problem, and VSI always looks at the non surgical approach first. I highly recommend this group.
How did your condition affect your life?
I have had two wonderful experiences with Virginia Spine Institute. The first one was a degenerative disc (and all the other diagnosis that go with it). It peaked in 2012. I was unable to play soccer, unable to exercise, unable to complete tasks at work. Worst of all, I was no longer a healthy role model for my son. My 11-year old was taking care of me. I couldn't tolerate sitting for long, so vacations were out. I was gaining weight and miserable. The second experience with Virginia Spine Institute was a dislocated shoulder. I immediately started physical therapy. Four weeks later, I went for an MRI that showed a fractured humorous, torn rotator cuff, and two separate labrum tears. I had to sleep sitting straight up, I had significant difficulty dressing myself, putting away dishes, carrying a laundry basket, and completing tasks at work. The pain was worse than the back, and there was NO relief.
How has your treatment changed your life? What are you able to do/feel now?
For my back, I feel better than I EVER felt before. I have VERY mild occasional nerve pain in my right foot, usually only when I have worked my back out really hard. I can now run, play soccer, do Pilates, yoga, cross fit. I am 110% at work and at home. I have to remind myself that I had a fusion! There are VERY few things that I can't do. I am in the best shape of my life at 40.
For my shoulder, the change was immediate and astounding. I went to Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center for physical therapy, I love the hands on approach that is like no other therapy. I saw some improvement before I even went in for the first PRP injection. But the day that Dr Bharara did my first PRP was the first night that I slept through the night without waking up in excruciating pain. I saw improvement in muscles and range of motion within a week. The next injection two months later made an even bigger improvement. I am still a little limited in working out (no push ups yet). But I am pain free, I have almost all of my range of motion back, and the injured shoulder is STRONGER than the
How was your experience at Virginia Spine Institute?
I couldn't have been treated any better. Dr. Schuler and Physician Assistant, Thao Allen came in on their vacation day to do my surgery on my back. Dr Bharara is in constant communication with physical therapist, EVERYONE from the front desk, to the physician assistants to the medical assistants, the physical therapist, the X-ray tech, the surgical scheduler, the insurance expert - they have a system down that is phenomenal. They are caring, efficient, professional, and true EXPERTS in their field. I could not have felt like I was in better hands!
How long did you experience symptoms before you decided to seek treatment?
For the back, I had symptoms off and on for eight years, with flares becoming more frequent.
For my shoulder, after three months of "conventional" physical therapy with minimal improvement, I called VSI.
What forced you to seek treatment?
For my back, I started to have knee swelling. With physical therapy, I discovered it was related to right leg weakness, related to my back. I did about six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen my right leg, but everything I did made my back hurt. I talked to a friend who had seen Dr Schuler, and I made an appointment.
For my shoulder, the therapist and the orthopedic doctor both thought my only solution was surgery, although there was no rush. I could not see having my arm immobilized and starting therapy all over again. A friend suggested PRP, I looked it up, and VSI popped up. There was no question, I was going back to VSI and Dr Bharara.