Lisa's Story

Spine Center’s targeted therapy program returns woman to pain-free life

As an avid gardener and nurturing wife, Lisa White is accustomed to taking care of everything and everyone.

But when she needed treatment for a painful injury, finding the right caregiving team proved difficult until she found the team at the Henry Ford Spine Center - Brownstown.

“I had an incident coming out of the flower bed and catching my shoe on the pavers,” Lisa, 54, said. “I felt something tear and it got progressively worse to the point of actually having horrible muscle spasms.”

A CT scan revealed severe spinal stenosis. She was put on muscle relaxers and sent home. “It didn’t get any better and I knew I had another surgery coming up that I could not go through with my spine not being right,” the Brownstown Township resident said. “I was in a time crunch and very nervous.”

Finding the right answers

Finally, Lisa’s doctor recommended that she go to the Spine Center. There, she found the answer she needed. She was diagnosed with a torn piriformis after an evaluation with Sarah McDade, M.D., and her team.

“They heard what I said and validated what I felt,” Lisa said. “They validated that the pain was not coming from my back, but from the torn piriformis. It was very interactive – they had me bend and stretch to determine what was wrong. It was such an in-depth appointment, and it was a conversation. I didn’t feel talked to, I felt talked with.”

The piriformis is a small muscle behind the gluteus maximus that runs diagonally from the lower spine to the upper surface of the femur and helps the hip rotate, turning the leg and foot outward. The sciatic nerve runs underneath or through the muscle.

“After I saw Dr. McDade and the physical therapist, I came out with an action plan for physical therapy,” she said. “What I liked is that they tag teamed it and had the physical therapist in the room when I was being examined.”

Lisa said her resolve to follow through with the therapy was strong. “If this is going to fix me, I’m going to do it,” she said. “It took probably about four or five sessions and then I turned a corner, I made a move that I wouldn’t have done before and there was no pain.”

Twice weekly sessions for five weeks involved stretching for her quadriceps and targeted therapy to strengthen her hamstrings and quadriceps.

“What I call the magic bullet was a machine to dig into the muscle from my butt cheek all the way down to my leg because my hip flexors were so tight,” she said. “My physical therapist was great. He walked me through everything and gave me such great ideas.”

Living pain free

Now Lisa is back to an active, pain-free life of gardening, Pilates and enjoying her other favorite hobbies.

“I truly am so happy,” she said. “My injury didn’t necessarily stop me from doing things. I still got things done but I just did them in pain and now I don’t have to.”

The dedicated team at the Henry Ford Spine Center-Brownstown takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients whose chronic pain has been unresolved with traditional approaches.

An assessment is performed jointly by a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician and a specialized spine physical therapist – all with the goal of identifying underlying causes and providing comprehensive treatment through a plan of care designed to meet each patient’s unique needs.

“It really is amazing,” Lisa said. “Even my husband said, ‘I think you’re standing three inches taller’ and I feel like I am. I’m not hunching forward and not afraid or nervous that I’m going to hurt myself anymore.”

To make an appointment at the Henry Ford Spine Center - Brownstown call (734) 671-1771 or complete our appointment request form.

Take the next step
Let us help you schedule an appointment.

Schedule Appointment Online

Please call 911 if you have an emergency or urgent medical question.

Already a Henry Ford patient?
For the best experience, existing Henry Ford patients can request and self-schedule appointments through Henry Ford MyChart.

Henry Ford Health System is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email [email protected].

Schedule Appointment for