Rhenn Casto hurt his back while moving heavy block, resulting in two perforated disks and a lot of pain.
Over the next three years Casto tried a variety of treatments, including physical therapy, chiropractic care and cortisone shots. With little relief, his doctor then recommended surgery. But L&I didn’t approve the surgery. Instead they sent him to St. Luke’s Pain Rehabilitation Program.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he says. “I thought it would be a waste of time. I thought it was a bunch of bull that L&I was pulling on me.”
But Casto says he decided he would try to have a good attitude and give it his best, hoping the program actually did help him. “And it did,” he says. “The staff is absolutely awesome. Everyone up there was top notch. They were very concerned about every individual that was there.”
When he started the program in the fall of 2009, Casto said his pain was consistently around a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 and his daily life was very limited. “I didn’t do very much at all.”
Just a few months later he says “the worst it gets is a 3.”
“They gave us more insight into chronic pain and basically gave us the tools to be able to manage that,” he explains, adding that it was also helpful to meet other patients who are dealing with chronic pain. “When you have chronic pain, you feel like you are the only one in the world who has it. You realize there are more people going through the same things you are going through.”
“My whole life came back because it gave me a different outlook on my problem. That I could go out and move,” Casto says, describing how he learned how to stretch and exercise in ways that would strengthen him and not exacerbate the back injury. He says he also uses what he learned in biofeedback to relax and manage any pain.
“The stretching and exercising has been a tremendous help, and that biofeedback is very beneficial. The breathing part of it is what I do. I don’t do it as faithfully as I should, but it does help, especially when I get tensed up. I take five to ten minutes to relax and breathe correctly and it is very beneficial.”
For Casto, rehabilitation was critical in learning how to manage pain and return to a normal life.