Patient Spolight: Kristen Lyle

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In early August of this year, I encountered severe pain in my left hip.  It came on suddenly but I couldn’t pinpoint the cause and no major trauma had occurred.  Perhaps it was the hour long run I had done the day before through some grassland trails in Minnesota near our camping spot.  Or, maybe it stemmed from the standing, dancing, and jumping I had done the night before when we took our twelve year old son to his first concert-Bruno Mars, in Fargo, North Dakota.  Yes, Bruno in Fargo, who knew?  It was awesome!  The day after the concert, I could barely stand up without collapsing on my left side, and excruciating pain radiated up and down from my hip.  I had experienced tightness in my upper hamstring area, lower back, and deep in my glutes in the past, but never, never ever, had I experienced a situation that was this acute and debilitating to my general movement, let alone any higher level activity like running, which I love to do.

I have always considered myself to be an athlete.  I played soccer, softball, basketball, and ran track growing up, and played soccer in college, all of which led to a lifelong love of moving my body and staying active.  As an adult, I ran a lot, biked some, and tried alpine skiing.  Unfortunately, the skiing part led to a total of four knee surgeries over the past twenty years, and during the past ten years I’ve slowly had to reduce the miles I’m able to run due to increasing joint pain.  But, I have been able to run some, which is OK, and during the winter, my knees are not bothered by skate skiing.  When I moved to Bozeman a year ago from the Lake Tahoe area, I joined the BSF Nordic Masters’ program.  It was a great way to meet people, learn the area trails, and receive some amazing instruction to improve my technique and efficiency, which I desperately needed.  I was also thrilled that cross-country skiing allowed me to enjoy the winter fun in the region and, no doubt about it, it definitely helped me get my cardio junkie fix.

I am better when I move.  I think more clearly, feel healthier and better about myself as I age, and I am a better person to all those around me.  So, when this hip “thing” happened, it was very upsetting to me.  I knew that I was past my marathon running days, but I am only 53 years old and I have a 12 year old!  I couldn’t imagine having to give up the exercise and activities I do on a regular basis, but initially, my hip was so aggravated, I couldn’t even go for a walk!  Needless to say, I was alarmed at my situation.

Luckily, a couple of days after we returned from Fargo to Bozeman, I ran into one of my husband’s work associates who is also a client of Jess & Jen’s at Physical Therapy Elite. I shared with her that I was on a three week waiting list at an orthopedics’ office and that I was desperate for some pain relief.  She told me that PT Elite specializes in helping athletes (lots of runners) work through injuries using manual soft tissue therapy, careful assessment, and focus on proper movement mechanics in order to strengthen and avoid future injury.  After a phone conversation that afternoon with Jen, I was grateful that they could see me the following day.

I have to admit, I cried at the end of my first appointment at PT Elite.  I was still worried about what my future activity levels looked like, but more than that, I think the tears flowed because of relief.  I knew that I had found the right team to help me get through this injury.  I was willing to work hard, which I told Jen & Jess, and they reassured me that they believed I did not need any kind of surgery (my mind was definitely thinking hip/knee replacement time).  Yes, my hip area was agitated and angry, but they saw a clear pathway to healing, and not once did they say I would have to give up on running or skate skiing.  Their goal was not only to get me past this injury, but to go back further and help me improve my running mechanics so that I could continue to protect my knees but not compensate for them as much, which was probably what led to my hip damage.

Due to my previous three ACL surgeries and a fourth to remove my right meniscus, I have seen my share of physical therapists.  I could tell right away that this duo was different.  Jess spends a great deal of time on manual soft tissue work which really loosens my tight areas and Jen oversees my assigned exercises.  Over the past two months of weekly appointments, they have helped me with pain reduction and healing in my hip area and have incorporated strength, agility, and stability exercises (which they monitor very closely while I'm at my appointments). Their treatment and plan have really helped me return to a much improved activity level that I desire.  They check in with me at every visit with true interest to make sure my activities are complimentary to the work I am doing in their clinic.  I have learned that they specialize in helping athletes of all age levels, from runners to climbers, skiers to hunters, but I have never seen more than two other clients at any of my appointments.  They take so much time with each individual; they specialize in you!

Before my hip started giving me grief, I was trying to consistently workout and I was planning on skate skiing when the snow arrives, but I had pretty much given up on any kind of goal setting like I had done when I was younger.  But after working with PT Elite, my hip has improved immensely, and although I will always have to be careful of my knees and their lack of padding, I am actually starting to think about some running and ski events that I would like to participate in over the next few months.  I have accomplished the first goal I set out to conquer – running for one hour on the TrueForm manual treadmill at PT Elite.  I ran 3 pain free 20 minute segments as part of a circuit at the clinic and my plan is to keep working until I can go for one hour straight.  I love it when Jen says, “You’re crushing it, Kristen!” and I’m grateful to have her and Jess on my team.