My Pain is Taking Over My Life

by Sophie Anne
(Saint Paul, MN )


I'm a 24-year old female who spent most of my childhood very active. I played every sport I could as often as I was allowed.

In high school I began to develop low back pain. It became so bad that I often had to stand up during class. It seemed the longer I stayed in one position the worse it became. I went to see a DO and he said that I had one hip higher than the other and then spoke to me about proper posture. I became religious about my posture though it didn’t made much difference.

When I went to college I began to develop low leg pain on my left side. It prevented me from running, and walking around campus became a struggle. I saw many Dr’s in Boston but they were all stumped. I was given a steroid shot in the area that was hurting, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I began to practice yoga frequently. As a sophomore in college my leg pain continued and I limited myself to yoga and swimming (interestingly I couldn’t breath on my left-side because I couldn’t get my arm back far enough). I felt very limited in my ability to engage in physical activity, though I was fine in my everyday. I still had my back pain but my low leg pain was worse.

Before I entered my senior year of college I became a yoga instructor and began to run again. Mid-way through my instructor training I began to notice my knee clicking and my low leg pain went away. I began to back off, but still my knee pain got worse. I stopped practicing yoga and was limited to taking a short walk a day. My knee pain became a lot worse. It even went out once and I couldn’t move at all. A couple weeks after, I was doing a little bit of yoga to see how my body would feel and my back went out completely. I sat on my mat, totally immobile and couldn't move. My instructor had to help carry me into her car and drive her home. I was totally bed bound for a week.

My low back began to feel better, but my knee pain was really bad. I began seeing an Orthopod and Physical Therapist, but the exercises greatly exacerbated the issue. It was at that time that I was unable to do any physical activity without pain.

After I graduated, I returned home and began to meet with all the top specialist in the area. My goal was to find a diagnosis. My pain had changed and now included the entire left side of my body. I met with Orthopedic Surgeons, Non-surgical Orthopods, Cranio-Sacral Therapists, Osteopaths, and Neurologists. No one had answers they were totally stumped. Many of them did find mechanical asymmetries, ie shorter muscles on the left side and a pelvis that wasn’t balanced. I had many MRI’s too. There was some fluid loss in my lower lumbar, but my knees looked good. I didn’t feel good though, far from it.

My life began to radically change this past winter. My pain became intense all the time. So intense that it is all I can focus on. My left side feels a constant tensing and pulsing in the bottom of my foot, my knee, behind my gluteus maximums , behind my shoulder blade and in my hand. I was finally referred to a wonderful Physical Therapist who does hands on manipulation. She had done some pelvic floor releases that helped a lot initially, but not so much anymore.

I’m at a point where my pain has totally overcome me. It makes daily tasks very challenging. I find it hard to focus on conversations with friends because I’m distracted with pain. Work is also a major challenge (I work as a Midwife Assistant ). I’m unable to go for walks and I spend a lot of time in the bath. It has hugely impacted my work, and relationships.

Movement in general in not possible for me. My physical therapist has said that she is able to do releases on my body but everything always tightens up again by the following week. She is stumped. I feel it 95% on the left side of my body but sometimes it switched to the right side. It is very strange now because it will be really really intense in my pelvis and then it will release and then shift to being really intense behind my shoulder blade. It is a bit better at night.

I should add that I’m tremendously grateful to have access to phenomenal medical care. Even though Mayo has not accepted me at this time, so many other well intentioned healers of all modalities have. Even some who have refused to charge me.

This condition that I have has taught me more than I would have ever imagined to learn by this age. For that, I feel lucky. It has taught me about the love and tenderness of the human condition, the value of life and health, and the capabilities and resilience of the human spirit. In some twisted way, I feel thankful for the experience. Though, I'm ready to be healed.

Any ideas about the root-cause are VERY much appreciated!

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Stephen O'Dwyer, cnmt

Neuromuscular Therapist & Pain Relief Researcher

Stephen O'Dwyer, CNMT


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