Wife and Mom, Actress, Christian Eduction Director and Back & Neck Rehabilitation Patient
“Before Back & Neck Rehabilitation, not a single day was pain free. Now I can do just about anything I want.”
Back Pain Problems Cut from Life's Script for Midland Mom and Actress
The old theater adage, “The show must go on,” well describes Christina Westbury’s approach to her roles on stage, as well as life with her active, young family and a job she loves.
In Christina’s case, life went on despite back pain that was part of the 33-year-old’s daily existence since high school. MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland’s specialized Back & Neck Rehabilitation gave Christina relief from pain, as well as tools and knowledge to enable her best performance.
“Before I went to Back & Neck Rehabilitation, not a single day was pain-free,” she said. “In college, I took muscle relaxants, and had physical therapy that was offered on campus. I just ignored the pain. I felt it was normal for me.”
She went on to earn her degree, marry husband Dirk and have two children, now ages 8 and 5. She also worked, volunteered, and performed strenuous singing and dancing roles for productions at Midland Center for the Arts.
“I was functional most of the time,” she said. “Every three or four months, though, I would have a real flare-up. I’d hobble my way through rehearsals and never let it impact a performance. The next day, though, I wouldn’t be able to move.”
In time, the flare-ups got closer together. Then, for two weeks last fall, Christina could not stand or sit.
“I told my doctor it had to stop. Taking narcotics and muscle relaxants is not good when you’re raising a couple of little kids. I couldn’t function.”
Fortunately, she was referred by her MidMichigan Physicians Group physician to Back & Neck Rehabilitation in Midland. MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland offers this specialized rehabilitation for people who suffer chronic lumbar or cervical pain and who have tried other treatments without relief.
Healing and Strengthening
“It was different than what I expected,” she said about her first visit. “They are very friendly and warm and treat you like they’re excited to see you and happy to be there. That’s kind of nice.”
After identifying Christina’s problem, her therapist focused on healing as a first step. Christina performed extension exercises every few hours during the day. She also learned about correct posture, the best ways to do activities, and how to evaluate pain to determine what should be addressed and what not to worry about.
“I couldn’t bend forward at the waist without bad pain. They gave me different ways to move that didn’t hurt and gave my back a chance to heal,” Christina said.
Within a week, Christina reported much less pain. She began to work with the specialized MedEx™ equipment that isolates weak muscles from strong ones and allows them to build strength.
“On the MedEx equipment, they first test your back strength. You can see it on a graph, and my first try was below the ‘below average’ mark,” she said. “By my last session, it was just a hair below average. I thought that was a huge improvement.”
After seven weeks that included the MedEx equipment and other training, plus exercising at home, Christina was able to do things without back pain that she could not have done before. A year of monthly check-up visits, offered for a small fee, is helping her keep on track with maintenance exercises.
Doing It All
Christina says she can now do just about anything she wants.
“I can shovel my driveway and pick up my son,” she said. “My children have noticed the difference, absolutely. My husband would take them to the park to go sledding or play out in the snow, walk the dogs or ride bikes, and I couldn’t do it. Now I can.”
“This summer, when we went to Disney World, I was able to be on my feet all day and carry tired children back to the campsite,” she said. It’s also easier to do her job, particularly her favorite part, working with youth and kids. “During our activities with children, I can run and jump and lift. I can do it all.”
If you've tried other treatments and still suffer from chronic lumbar or cervical pain, Back & Neck Rehabilitation may be right for you. You will need a doctor's prescription and referral to make an appointment. Ask your doctor whether you are a good candidate for MidMichigan's specialized Back & Neck Rehabilitation or call MidMichigan Health Line at (989) 837-9090 or toll-free at (800) 999-3199 for help with a physician referral.