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Baylor Spine Center

Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine

 
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Patient Story 

Katie Coyle of Fort Worth was 16 years old when she injured her back in a car accident. Now 28, she has visited a string of doctors and has tried numerous treatments ranging from drug therapy to reflexology and even massages. “Nothing gave me relief,” she says.

Coyle lived with the pain for 12 years before she decided to visit the Baylor Spine Center at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine.

“My doctor explained why I was in so much pain—after the car accident, I had soft-tissue damage, and I carried myself in such a way so as to protect my back. I had really bad posture, and my muscles were weakening,” Coyle says. “She was the first person who gave me an action plan.”

Coyle’s treatment included trigger point therapy, which helps break down fibrous tissue that’s causing discomfort, as well as physical therapy. She also learned a series of stretches, exercises and self-massage techniques that can help keep the pain from returning.

“For the first time in 12 years I am pain free—it’s absolutely amazing,” she says. Meredith Adams, D.O., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist on the medical staff at the Baylor Spine Center at Baylor Grapevine, points out that, like Coyle, most people can get their back and neck pain under control without surgery. “A lot of people are fearful,” she says. “I spend a lot of time educating them and reassuring them that nothing drastic is going to happen. That eases their anxiety, which helps with the pain.”

Dr. Adams says that while all cases are unique, in many cases treatment follows a similar path:

  • X-ray, to look for arthritis and get a general idea of the condition of the spine
  • Physical therapy, generally twice a week for four to eight weeks, focusing on stretching, strengthening and injury prevention
  • Medication, such as muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories, particularly if you have trouble sleeping.

For many people, these steps are enough to control the pain. If not techniques such as trigger point therapy and epidural steroids can help with pain management.

Dr. Adams notes that healing takes time. “If you have herniated discs, for example, it might take eight to 10 weeks,” she says.

Education is an important part of treatment. By paying attention to ergonomics and everyday activities, people can avoid reinjuring their backs and necks.