My name is Debbie, and I want to tell you about my recovery from a herniated disc, with the help of Illinois Bone & Joint Institute (IBJI). In May, I reached down to move something and I couldn’t stand up again. Over the next few hours, the pain intensified to the point that I literally could not get up from the couch. This debilitating pain lasted for over two weeks. My internist prescribed pain medication, but it barely took the edge off. Finally, I called IBJI and made an appointment with a physical therapist, Rebecca Ogiela, PT, MPT.

We were in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, and the offices were closed, but we had a few Telehealth visits. She also referred me to a spine specialist, Dr. Jonathan Erulkar, who recommended I get an MRI. He prescribed a muscle relaxant (and oral steroids) which managed the pain enough that I could hobble to the car. The MRI showed that I had a herniated disc and I was referred to a pain specialist. (Although this was a spine injury, I never had back pain per se; rather the pain was all down my leg, as the sciatica nerve was involved.) Dr. Brooke Vanderby gave me a steroid injection which helped a lot but I was still unable to perform normal functions such as standing up for more than a minute or two or walking without the aid of crutches.

I continued to attend physical therapy sessions twice a week for the next several months. Slowly, the pain decreased and I was able to function better. My therapist gave me exercises to perform daily and gradually increased their difficulty. By September, the pain was mostly gone, but I had lost a lot of strength, flexibility and endurance. Rebecca referred me to Aleksandra Moe, PT, DPT, a physical therapist who is also a Pilates instructor. Over the next six weeks, she helped me strengthen my core and get to the point where I could resume a regular yoga practice. With her advice, I now do a consistent morning warm-up before proceeding with my day. I am also planning to resume a regular Pilates practice. I cannot thank IBJI enough, and especially the physical therapists I worked with for getting me, literally, back on my feet. Their attention, knowledge, and support have made all the difference.

Below are two pictures of Debbie performing Pilates exercises.

  • Debbie B performing pilates pose
  • Debbie B performing standing pilates pose
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