For the first blog for our new website, I thought, what better way to start than to tell you my story.
I’ve always had an enquiring mind. I guess I never really grew out of the ‘why’ stage, which must have sent my parents close to insanity. This was particularly true about humans, I had an innate interest in people, how they move and use their bodies and why they do things a certain way. As I grew up in quite a sporty family, being a county level swimmer and then a county level rugby player, this probably fed my infatuation.
I loved science at school, probably as it let me ask lots of ‘why’ questions, and so something like medicine or physiotherapy as a career seemed logical. But it was at this stage that I was introduced to Osteopathy.
Following a rugby injury, I ended up in A&E. I was desperate to get fit as I had national level trials soon. Unfortunately, the advice I was given was to stop playing rugby.
Well, he may as well have told me to stop breathing, this wasn’t gonna happen!
Soon afterwards I happened to talk to my brother’s ice skating coach (I told you we were sporty!) and she sent me to her osteopath who worked wonders for her injured skaters.
At first, the fact that he was blind led me to think that this was not a great decision but it was an absolute revelation, he just seemed to understand how I worked. He said that he could help and that I could carry on playing. This was music to my ears and proved to be absolutely right.
Over the next few years I got to know him pretty well, as I got injured quite a bit, we talked about how bodies worked and how osteopathy works. As my interest increased he lent me a book, which was a life changer. This was probably the first book that I ever read cover to cover. This was exactly what I wanted to do.
So, off I went up to London to study at the British School of Osteopathy and after 4 years of pretty hard work (and the occasional party!) I qualified. I came back to Brighton, got a bank loan, set up a small room to practise in, put a sign outside and waited for patients to come flocking to see me so that I could sort out their ailments.
Unfortunately, I had made a rookie error, I had not realised that very few people had even heard of an osteopath and that the place was neither in a good location or state of repair and within six months I had to move out. This wasn’t the glittering start that I had envisaged but then things started to get better. I managed to get a job in a large practice and also met a local dentist who let me use a room on a Friday evening and Saturday. So, I worked pretty much full time in one practice and moved the dentist chair out the way, and put up my portable table at the weekends.
By actually seeing some patients, I found out that most didn’t only want to know what was wrong but why and then what they needed to do about it. This ‘why’ question was there again but I knew that I didn’t have many answers, so I started to read as much as possible to help me better understand. This sparked my interest in back pain as I discovered that worryingly large numbers of people suffer from this and the recurrence rates are very high.
Why was this?
Amazing breakthroughs had been made in medical science, but back pain was still very much in the dark ages. I subsequently learnt that it’s very likely that most back pain is caused by certain lifestyle factors and if patients were well informed, take an active role in recovery and receive the best care possible, they would get better, stay better and be happy to tell others. So that is what I set out to do.
This seemed to work as within a few years I had expanded to have a full- time practice within the dentist’s and ran a local NHS clinic. Soon other osteopaths and a massage therapist worked within the practice and within a few more years we had moved to the self-contained premises where we are today. This has allowed us to develop into a truly specialised Back Pain Clinic offering ground-breaking treatments like IDD Therapy and movement based rehabilitation, as well as more traditional osteopathy and massage, being able to help patients with any aspect of spinal pain that does not require emergency surgery.
I am pleased that nowadays there aren’t many people who don’t know what an osteopath is but I still haven’t grown out of the ‘why’ phase and certainly don’t have all the answers yet.
But with further blogs I want to let you know much of the stuff that I have learned over my time (and stuff that I will learn in the future) to address some of the common myths and poor advice around back pain so that you can make the most of your life without the burden of recurrent spinal pain.