For more than two decades, Caristia’s pain stopped her from pursuing her passion for cycling. After missing out on biking with her kids and years of riding opportunities, she finally found pain science and the joy of returning to the saddle.
“In my mid 20s I did a huge ride in Britain. For three months I rode a bike,” says Caristia. “I loved riding and it was just a fantastic experience.
“I came back, ended up in Adelaide and went for a ride on the back of a motorbike to Sydney - it was a brand-new bike and it was very, very hard and at the end of that, I could hardly walk.
“What I found after that was that I couldn’t actually ride a bicycle without having pain. A health professional told me there was a problem with my coccyx. That was probably 31 years ago and I believed it for more than 20 years.
“It’s sad, because I used to look at my children riding with my husband and think, ‘oh - I just wish that could be me’.
“Before I ended up coming here [to Form Physiotherapy - PTM’s clinic] things had changed even more to the point where I had something in my leg and every now and again it would just spasm and it was completely unpredictable.
“When I came to Form and started talking to Dave, he asked me, ‘Why don’t you ride your bike?’ And I said, ‘Well - I have this problem with my coccyx and the seat makes it sore’.
“But, he told me that if I could see an x-ray of my body on the bike, I would see that my coccyx doesn’t come anywhere near the bike seat. At first, I said, ‘I don’t think I believe you’.
“What changed my mind was that I was desperate. And he really seemed to fully believe what he was telling me. I just got to a point where I thought if there was any chance this could work out, I was going to give it my best shot.
“He started me on a weights program. I only did one session a week - and I did nothing else, it was just that one session a week and it made all of the difference.
“After the fifth session, I asked Dave to come to the bike shop with me and help me find a bike. On my first ride, I got all the way up Norton Summit and went right on through to the Norton Summit pub, which I rather like.
“And I have been riding ever since. I just can’t believe that it happened that easily.
“Many years later I started having this pain underneath my big toe and my little toe on my left foot. So, I went to K-Mart and bought pads to put in my shoes and told myself it was just part of getting older.
“I thought, ‘as long as I can keep walking then that’s ok’, but recently I decided to give it one more shot to get rid of the pain.
“This time I saw Toby [another physiotherapist at Form]. I had developed the belief that there just wasn’t enough padding left under my toes. Toby couldn’t find anything physical wrong with my foot and that had a huge impact on me - to have these tests done and have him say, ‘There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to walk’, was very reassuring.
“So, then we went back into the whole pain science thing.
“I think what I have really gotten this time is about how much credibility I am giving to the pain - the decision I am making about how relevant and how important the pain is.
“It’s a completely different learning - with Dave it was, let’s do this activity and prove to you there is no problem. With my foot, for some reason I didn’t allow that to work, so this time we’re going more through the education. Step by step it’s making me feel a little better about everything each day.
“Recently, someone called me up and said, ‘let’s go and do a run’. And I thought, ‘Maybe I can’. So, on Saturday morning I did a 5km run. I just thought that was amazing and my foot wasn’t sore at all.
“I was stunned - I really didn’t think something could make such a huge difference.”
Permission to Move is a set of tools to treat chronic pain. It is an online course for patients looking to overcome their chronic pain, and it is a collection of resources for clinicians to use in practice.