This road has been long and hard. I am so very thankful to have found Prolotherapy without which I would never be able to say with confidence that this road is ending, and my life is again beginning. My name is Anna Hamman, I have a wonderfully supportive husband, and a wild and crazy three year-old son, and my life has been affected by chronic pain for the past few years. We live in Florida, but we have searched the country for advice in treating my condition. Because chronic pain affects the lives of more than just the individual, I label this “Our Story.”
For the past three years I have suffered from chronic pelvic and low back pain. My symptoms have included severe groin pain (7 out of 10 pain), inner leg/thigh pain (6/10), symmetrical hip pain (5/10), and intense low back pain (8/10). These symptoms grew over time to include upper back /collarbone pain (5/10) and pelvic floor pain (5/10). There is no doubt that each of my symptoms was a chain reaction from the initial injury. However, with the pain so intense throughout my entire body, neither I nor my initial doctors, fully understood the problems going on within me.
In hindsight, I can now say my initial injury happened during the birth of my first son in December 2006. I had a great pregnancy, and I naturally (but with the help of an epidural) delivered my healthy baby boy two weeks and one day past my due date. He weighed 9 lbs, 2 oz., and the delivery was very long and hard (14 hours, 5 hours pushing). I believe my initial pelvic injury occurred during the long birth. When I went home from the hospital I was in pain, but I thought it to be normal; I had just had a big, healthy baby.
As time began to pass, I tried my best to return to the active lifestyle I had before. However, I soon realized that I had suffered a severe injury that was not going to heal without proper medical attention.
Thus, my quest to figure out what was causing me so much pain began. At that time, I was an active duty captain in the United States Air Force. I say this to make the point that I was not only an athletic person by nature, but it was required that I maintain a certain physical standard to stay in the military. For the first six months following my injury, I kept taking the advice of the military doctors, that with time and physical therapy my body would heal itself so that I could return to being the active woman I was before my pregnancy. I pushed myself to return to my normal exercise routine even though the pain was extremely intense and much worse with exercise. Time passed, the doctors ran some preliminary tests to ensure nothing obvious was being overlooked. A year into my quest to find an answer to my chronic pain, the only diagnosis I had included a “minimally bulging disc material present at L1-2, L4-5, and L5-S1, as well as an annular tear in the midline of L4-5,” and “minimal sclerosis of the right sacroiliac joint.” Not having identified the true injury to date, I did not realize at the time, that all of the above mentioned injuries were developing because of the underlying problem that no doctor had yet been able to diagnosis.
The prescribed method of treatment under the military system included routine chiropractic manipulations, physical therapy, and steroid /cortisone injections. I endured a rigorous once-a-week treatment schedule for 12 months following the birth of my baby. Times were tough. My husband deployed three times that first year, leaving me to raise a new baby, work, and try to fit in all of these doctors appointments all while feeling like I had been run over by a semi-truck. Despite a hugely supportive immediate family, I became depressed as the pain began to get the best of me. Still, I kept looking for an answer. The tipping point was the three cortisone injections I received in my lower back and SI joint at the direction of the military doctors. In hindsight, I certainly wish I had not gone through with the cortisone injections, as they did absolutely nothing to ease my pain. Furthermore, they could have proved detrimental if continued as prescribed! All of these courses of action were simply methods of masking the pain rather than getting to the root of it. I found myself extremely frustrated and weary that I might have to spend the rest of my life in this horrible state.
In 2008, nearly a year and a half into my quest for an answer, I finally convinced the military doctors to send me to an orthopedic specialist who specialized in pelvic reconstruction. This doctor was not associated with the military. Clearly, the military doctors were not able to figure out what was wrong with me, and civilian attention was required.
Upon examination by the orthopedist, a pelvic reconstruction specialist, he suggested I complete a new pelvic ultrasound and weight-bearing X-rays of my pelvis, standing on one leg in a flamingo-like pose. The X-rays showed a mild separation of my pubic symphysis and a definite shift of the weight-bearing side when standing on one leg. Just as expected, the MRI also returned signs of “early-mild osteitis pubis,” or inflammation of the suspect joint. We had finally found the root source of my pain: pelvic instability due to an injured pelvic joint. This, my orthopedist told me, could have been a result of the hormonal changes a woman goes through during pregnancy as her body prepares for delivery and the joints open to make room for the baby. But more likely, it was aggravated by a 9+ lb baby coming down the birth canal and the long labor that I had to endure. Slowly, my back, hip, and groin pain began to make more sense. After receiving the results, the obvious question became, how do we fix this? The orthopedist suggested I consider fusion of the symphysis pubis. My husband and I left his office, happy to find an answer, but unsure that surgery was the answer for me. There were simply too many questions that the orthopedist and the military doctors could not answer with certainty for us. My main question persisted: would the surgery address my lower back pain? Nobody could say with certainty that fusion of the pubic symphysis would solve all my problems.
I set out to find alternative sources for treating pelvic instability. My search led me to a physical therapist who specialized in women’s health and pelvic floor injuries as well as to a wonderful team of doctors at Florida Health Center East. The doctors at Florida Health Center East were DOs who specialized in family practice and osteopathic manipulation, a method of smoothly realigning out-of-place joints back to their proper position without the use of chiropractic techniques. By this time, I was very weary of chiropractic manipulation because I had endured so much under the military’s method of addressing my low back pain, and I knew it was not the treatment I needed for pelvic instability. My ligaments were already too loose, I did not need chiropractic manipulations to make my problems any worse! Thus began an intense schedule of appointments once every three weeks, for six months, for osteopathic manipulation.
I saw some improvement and was encouraged enough to continue my non-surgical methods of treatment. Furthermore, the doctors at Florida Health Center East, as well as my new physical therapist all shared the opinion that the pelvis has joints for a reason: a little movement is necessary, if not imperative, for normal healthy female function. I still had dreams of being able to run again and, if my health is good enough, have one more baby. Both dreams were even less of a reality with a pelvic fusion. However, a full recovery with non-surgical treatments was still possible according to the doctors at Florida Health Center East. I had no choice but to continue to work with these specialists while continuing my personal search for an answer.
New Year’s Eve of 2008 came, and I remember counting down the last few seconds praying to God that 2009 would bring about change. God is good. At one of my appointments at Florida Health Center East, my doctor suggested I consider a method of treatment called Prolotherapy. After hearing their explanation of the procedure, I agreed. I received a few concentrated Prolotherapy injections around my lower-lumbar and SI Joint region. I returned about four weeks later and received several in my SI joint and symphysis pubis. I continued Prolotherapy for about four or five months under the care of the DOs at Florida Health Center East, all the while doing as much research as I could on this method of treatment, trying to learn and understand what it was that was beginning to make me feel better!
My quest for more information, and ultimately a permanent cure to my chronic pain, lead me to Caring Medical and to Dr. Ross Hauser. Since I knew Prolotherapy was working for me, I decided it best to make an appointment with a leading expert in the field. Last February, after two years of living with severe chronic pain, I began treatments with Dr. Hauser. Dr. Hauser did more than diagnose my problems surrounding pelvic instability and the pain associated, he began to dig deeper to find out why it was taking me so long to heal. It is Dr. Hauser’s method of Prolotherapy combined with his “whole body” methodology of peeling back the layers in a chronic pain case that, I believe, finally caused me to begin my path to recovery!
The difference between using Prolotherapy to compliment a treatment and using Prolotherapy as the main source of treatment was the turning point in my battle with chronic pain. Upon examination, I received some 300+ Prolotherapy injections throughout my lumbar spine, my hip joints, my groin, and my collarbones. Additionally, I began a rigorous course of vitamins and supplements, all of which I continue today. I did not see results immediately. I was disheartened at first, but the doctors and nurses at Caring Medical did a wonderful job explaining that in my case it would likely take time and numerous treatments (an estimated eight or more) before results were surely evident. Dr. Hauser asked me to think of my ligaments surrounding my lower back and pelvis as over-stretched rubber bands that, with each injection, would heal tighter, but not until they were tight. Just tight enough to hold my bones in place to take the strain off of my muscles. Since I had been living with this condition for over two years, there were also overcompensation issues that my body would have to overcome with time, proper medical attention, and patience.
On my third visit, I still was not seeing the results I wanted, so I agreed to complete the Hauser Diet Typing and food allergy panel as well as a panel of blood work in which Dr. Hauser checked my hormone levels and thyroid. The diet typing, or blood sugar response test, revealed that I should mimic an “Otter” in my eating habits with a 50% protein, 25% fat, 25% carbohydrate diet. The food allergy results were very shocking – I was allergic to dairy, eggs, gluten, and even a few choice fruits! All of these foods, while they didn’t cause me digestive strain, were, according to Dr. Hauser, causing systemic inflammation increased body aches and pain. Although very strange and difficult, I made an immediate change. The blood panel also revealed some eye opening problems: I was hypo-thyroid, and my testosterone and progesterone levels were not within the normal ranges for ideal healing. I now take natural thyroid medication as well as apply natural testosterone and progesterone creams daily. All of these changes made were to help my body return to an optimal state of healing. For the first time in my quest for finding an answer, somebody was listening to my entire body, and my entire body began to respond!
I have seen Dr. Hauser for treatment seven times, thus far. At my last appointment, I reported an overall 85-90% decrease in pain. Additionally, I have had recent MRI scans run, and there are no longer any bulging discs to report in my lower back—a true testament to the Prolotherapy treatments. I am continuing the vitamins, supplements, and prescribed medications as directed, as well as doing my best to eat well and follow the food allergy guidelines. I am slowly adding exercise back into my routine, and am limiting my stretching and increasing my resistance activity. I enjoy swimming, however, I am still challenged by walking long distances and running, both which continue to cause me increased pain. I am not done, however, with my treatments. I strongly believe the 100% recovery exists for me, and I continue to see Dr. Hauser every few months with the goal of once again being the active woman I used to be!
While I am not yet at the end of my battle with chronic pain, it is only because I am seeking full recovery, and I believe it is possible with Prolotherapy and Natural Medicine. I am so thankful that I did not follow through with the pelvic fusion. I have had to separate from the military in order to seek continued treatment from civilian health care providers. While one is able to see civilian health care specialists in the military, the referral system is long and tedious. Juggling my toddler, my poor health, my own career, and my husband’s constant deployments was not something that we, as a family, could continue. Since my husband and I had decided against the pelvic fusion surgery, the military doctors and insurance system made it very difficult to pursue additional civilian options. I do not write these words to justify my decision to get out of the military, but instead to highlight how desperate I was to find an answer to my chronic pain.
I share my story here in hopes of reaching out to that one person who is questioning Prolotherapy. I am not ashamed of anything that I have been through, instead I am a much stronger person because of this experience, and I hope that through our story someone else finds the courage and determination to find the answer and to once again reclaim his or her life.