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John's Featherstone Experience Managing Chronic Pain

I am a 77 year old man, and have suffered from chronic pain in my neck for over 40 years.  I have experienced ongoing neck pain, restricted neck movement, as well as severe headaches, that pretty well stopped me functioning. 

The doctors diagnosed osteoarthritis in my upper neck, which was causing the neck pain and the crippling headaches.  In addition to my neck problems, I have been diagnosed as a sufferer of PTSD following my time serving in Vietnam, and as a Police Officer in specialised squads, contributing to the muscle tightness in my neck and shoulders. 

Over many years, I had tried various treatments to reduce the neck pain and headaches. Doctors had prescribed mild, then later, stronger pain killers; and physiotherapy with Edwina Bassingthwaighte, the Specialist Complex Pain Physiotherapist at Featherstone. Whilst the physiotherapy and pain medication helped my neck pain, the headaches remained crippling.  This physiotherapy treatment was over a number of years. 


As part of the team treatment approach, Edwina sent me to a Pain Specialist Physician, Dr John Salmon. Dr Salmon helped reduce the headaches by changing my medication initially, and later implanting a spinal electric stimulator, which reduced the intensity of the headaches, although they were still easily flared-up from time to time. 


I have always been an active sporty person, having played sport at an international level.  I enjoy physical activity, and exercise, and was frustrated that this often made my headaches more severe.  I would put up with the pain while doing the activity, and would then suffer afterwards with a flareup when the activity finished. 


Edwina encouraged me to attend Physio Exercise Rehabilitation at Featherstone Physiotherapy, in addition to her treatment sessions. The plan was for this Clinical Pilates programme to help me get stronger, and increase my flexibility. 


I guess like many other physically active people, initially I did not see Clinical Pilates as being the saviour to my neck pain and headaches.  After some encouragement from Edwina, I started Clinical Pilates, albeit with some trepidation as to how it was going to help, and was it going to be “hard” enough for me.  Clinical Pilates certainly is “hard” enough!  Even in the early days of my rehabilitation programme, I would finish sweaty & exhausted, both physically & mentally. I was working my body differently to how I had moved before.  My pain level improved once starting Clinical Pilates, however I still required pain medication, and analgesics, as it still flared up frequently, but not anywhere near as much as it used to be. 

In February 2023, Edwina suggested that I change the focus of my Clinical Pilates programme by implementing weight training to strengthen my neck and shoulder muscles.  Supervised by Jess Baker, a Physiotherapist at Featherstone, I added weight training to my programme focusing on different arm and leg muscles, as well as my neck & trunk muscles. Over time I have also been able to slowly increase the weights, and the exercises have become more advanced. 

The effect of this additional element into my Clinical Pilates rehabilitation has made a huge difference in reducing my neck pain and headaches.  I no longer take regular analgesics, PTSD medication, or use the nerve spinal stimulator.  I still get breakout neck pain, and associated headaches, but it is so much more manageable. 


I cannot offer enough praise for the dedication and professionalism of all the Physio's at Featherstone.  Jess who has been my primary Clinical Pilates Physio, Adele who looked after me earlier, and Courtney who I see occasionally, have all offered professional Physio guidance, but also friendship and helpful advice.  The warm community that Featherstone encourages, makes it a welcoming place to attend.  Now I can manage my pain and enjoy life.   


The benefit of having Physiotherapy trained Pilates and rehab instructors is that they have an excellent understanding of my needs, and are able to manage my exercise program, ensuring that I do not overuse any muscles, or aggravate my neck and shoulder muscles. 


So, if you are like I was and hesitant about Pilates, come along to the Featherstone Studio, and team up with any of the fabulous Physio's and Pilates instructors.  They could change your life for the better, as they did for me.  The friendship and fun within the exercise studio makes it an enjoyable time! 

If you have been inspired by John's experience at Featherstone head over to our website to see how we can help you achieve the best version of yourself!


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