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High school coach finds relief for sciatic nerve pain

How one young man avoided surgery and found a solution to chronic back pain

As a young, active ultimate Frisbee coach, Caleb Syzdlo never expected he would suffer from chronic back pain – let alone be considering back surgery.

"Dealing with a chronic condition was something I never imagined at this age," he says. "I think I pictured I would age more gracefully."

During an ultimate Frisbee tournament in January 2016, Caleb injured his hip. But what he thought was pain from a simple muscle tear turned out to be sciatic nerve pain.

At the age of 31, pain became a part of Caleb’s everyday life. He continued coaching and being active, but sitting for long periods of time and sleeping became increasingly uncomfortable.

Caleb began searching for treatment. He completed a course of physical therapy, visited chiropractors and even had an epidural. But each remedy provided only short-term relief.

“Each therapy I tried seemed to focus on avoiding the pain,” he says. “I didn’t feel therapy was working through the root cause of my pain. And over the course of time, it just got worse.”

Finding Physicians Neck & Back Center

Then, Caleb learned about Physicians Neck & Back Center (PNBC). He had read the book Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, by Cathryn Ramin. The author highlighted the approach taken at PNBC.

“The book described a lot of physical therapy as avoiding pain. But PNBC didn’t,” Caleb says. “It was the idea that things are going to be tough and it’s going to be a challenge, but you’re going to work through it.”

Caleb was up for the challenge. This fall, he began visiting PNBC in Woodbury two times a week.

“It feels like I’m actually doing work and making improvements,” he says. “I’ve learned a bunch of stretches I can do throughout the day to make my nerves looser and help with mobility. They’ve taught me ways to strengthen my back outside of the program, too.”

A pain-free future in sight

While Caleb is still relatively new to the program, he becomes more optimistic with each visit. Since starting, he’s seen improvement in his right foot—which used to fall asleep often—and reduced tingling.

Caleb also feels like he’s more motivated thanks to the program.

“The staff at PNBC is encouraging me to do things I had given up on. They’re pushing me to not give into the pain,” he says.

Caleb encourages anyone struggling with pain to give PNBC a shot.

“They want to see you succeed,” he says. “The goal is to see patients get better and support them along the way, but also make sure you’re equipped with the tools to leave the program and manage the pain on your own.”

Since PNBC opened its doors in 1990, more than 150,000 patients have found the help they need. Don’t let neck and back pain hold you back from doing what you love. Check out or call 651-735-2225 for more information.

In addition to the Woodbury site Caleb visited, PNBC also has locations in:

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