grow old with me

Physical therapy with heart and soul

When is physical therapy not just physical therapy? When it’s manual physical therapy.


I have been involved in physical therapy as a patient for many years — on and off — mostly on. In my younger days when I was a jogger, tennis player and swimmer, I had problems associated with repetitive action… knee problems, tennis elbow, shoulder calcifications. Usually the treatment was injections and then the physical therapy of the time.

During my years in New York, I had the tendons in my right hand surgically released because of painful trigger fingers, and though it relieved my pain, my fingers developed arthritis, a known (except to me) possible side effect of the surgery, which greatly slowed them down at the piano. I was decidedly unhappy about that. I’d heard about a manual physical therapist who worked with all kinds of body problems and I went to see him. Working with my left hand which had also developed trigger fingers, he made them move again without surgery. No arthritis developed. No problems at the piano. But I had also begun to experience pain and dysfunction in my hips and back that prevented me from walking the long distances I loved to cover several times a week. The manual therapist treated me weekly and enabled me to walk with reduced pain. And then I moved back to Florida.

Maybe it was my loneliness for the Big Apple, maybe it was all the unpacking and putting away, maybe it was the climate. More likely, it was simply my aging process. But soon, worsening arthritic hips disabled my active life. I realize that more terrible things could befall me. I remain a grateful and appreciative woman for what I have. But the heart wants what it wants. Mine wanted my active life back. An orthopedic surgeon gave me the news. Hip replacements would return that to me. I was not ready, emotionally, for the surgery. I chose to have physical therapy until I could rev myself up to do it. But, I wanted a manual physical therapist.

The Universe usually answers the call for what we need, whether it’s what we want or not. This time it was exactly what I wanted... and needed. I was waiting in my attorney’s office when I overheard a conversation. A woman said: “I’ve tried so many physical therapists and no one really helped me until I found ‘him.’” Was she talking about God? I didn’t think so, but I had to know who ‘him’ was. So I walked over and asked. When I went home and Googled ‘him ’I found, to my great satisfaction, that he was a Certified Functional Manual Therapist. Woohoo!

Next week I’ll tell you about the man and his practice. And why I have such confidence in this kind of therapy for what ails your body, mind and spirit, be it injury or wear and tear or preparing for and following surgery.

I leave you with this:

“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

— Muhammad Ali