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Turning the Clock Back 15 Years – John Senkinc’s Success Story

By, Allison R. Weder

John Senkinc spends much of his life behind a desk, like many of us. By working this way, eight plus hours a day, John was left with daily aches and pains in his back. He coped for years with the nagging on-and-off again pain until he experienced a major injury while taking care of his aging father in 2015. The pain then turned excruciating. He remembers the diagnosis. “The MRI showed I had stenosis, compressed discs and three bulging discs. I had been going to a chiropractor and a massage therapist and I even tried acupuncture. It wasn’t working. It was getting worse. I finally went to an orthopedic doctor, and he sent me to a pain doctor. That doctor put me on prednisone. But it did no good.” Physical therapy was next on his list of things to try. John’s first PT experience was rough. “The first clinic I went to, you’d meet with the Physical Therapist, and never see them again. You’re put in a big room to do your exercises and maybe someone would check on you. So, I gave up.”

John still couldn’t walk 15 feet without being in unbearable pain. A trip in a car was agonizing. Sleep was difficult. “My lower back was in a knot; my leg would go numb. I had a kneeling chair, to take the pressure off my lower back. I had a yoga mat and at lunch, I’d try to stretch my back out. I’d stand at a file cabinet with my laptop because I couldn’t sit. I was in agony all the time. I can understand how people get addicted to medications and get depressed when they live with chronic pain.” Scared for the future, John took matters into his own hands. He reached out to friends and asked them for advice, hoping to find someone with a successful physical therapy experience. It worked. One recommended Phoenix Physical Therapy in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.

John’s first appointment with the Scott Township team involved creating a step-by-step plan to relieve his pain and get him back to living his life again. “It was a buildup plan. (The Scott Township clinic) was a small place, allowing for four to five patients at a time, but you also had PTs, and assistants; you weren’t sitting by yourself doing exercises.” During each session, John would meet with his Physical Therapist, lay on moist heating packs, utilize traction machines, and usually add something new each week, “like ankle weights and weight machines. My routine just kept building and building.” John knew this physical therapy experience was different, and would put him on the road to recovery. “The whole experience from the word GO was different. It was more hands on. It was a smaller environment. They spent time right out of the gate to talk to you, look at your problem, talk about why it’s happening, what you can do to fix it, and how you can maintain it. The whole staff over there was very hands on. Just a good experience.”

John noticed a difference in his pain level within a couple of weeks. “I could start to feel it loosening, the tension and the tightness kind of coming out. Getting started is hard, but once you feel the difference, you get motivated to feel better and do more. I never missed an appointment. Because I was finally, after so long, starting to feel better. I made the time to go. I was getting my life back. It was a huge deal! Not with drugs, not with surgery.” John went to physical therapy 3 days a week for 3 months. He’s ecstatic about the results: “At the end of the 3 months, I felt better than I had in 15 years. No joke!” But his recovery didn’t end there. John was given a home exercise program to keep him feeling great for years to come. It was something he would need to do every day. His Physical Therapist was honest with him. John recalls the conversation. “He said, ‘part of the problem is your body structure; it’s easy for you to injure yourself. You will need to do this routine for the rest of your life. I guarantee if you don’t do this for the rest of your life, you will be back in here.” The routine includes six simple exercises and stretches that take about 15 minutes each day, something John has no trouble finding time for. “I don’t want to ever go back to that pain. I will always do my exercises. If I start slacking, and I get a little lazy, it starts sneaking up on me, and I can tell. I say to myself, OK you fool get out your exercises and get your butt moving. You get motivated really quick when the pain comes back.”

John is grateful for the time he spent with the Scott Township team and encourages anyone with back pain to look to physical therapy as a solution. “What do you have to lose? NOTHING! Anything is better than being in pain. Go get your life back! After seeing someone 2 hours a day, 3 days a week for 3 months, you get to know these people. You get to know about their family. They become like family.”

John looks forward to living his life without anything stopping him. “There’s nothing I can’t do. It was like turning the clock back at least 15 years.”