McKenzie Method relieves teacher from neck and arm pain

By the time he met Dr. Tom Lotus, Ric Balius, 50, was exhausted from months of pain in his neck and moved down his left arm, worsening with time. He had become discouraged from waiting long periods to seek relief from a variety of healthcare providers and frustrated that pain medication and surgery were the only solutions he was offered.

A high school teacher and father of two, Balius had reached a breaking point. He was barely able to get through his workday and spent evenings lying down. He missed his kids’ sports because he couldn’t sit in the stands. He missed fishing, hiking, biking, and coaching baseball. The pain was unrelenting, and it was taking an emotional toll.

Getting on the right track

“One day at work a friend shared with me that she had experienced pain relief from Dr. Lotus,” Balius explained. “Because I was eager to try anything and avoid surgery, I crossed my fingers and made an appointment with him.”

Tom Lotus, DC, FACO, Cert. MDT, is a Primary Spine Physician specializing in the McKenzie Method at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH (MOR). He specializes in assessing, treating, and preventing spine, neck, and extremity injuries.

When they met, Dr. Lotus could see Balius’ pain and frustration immediately. “Dr. Lotus told me, ‘You’re not broken, and I am going to help you,’” Balius remembers. “He was very reassuring.”

Dr. Lotus listened to his patient’s history and performed a detailed neurologic and orthopedic assessment in which he was able to identify the problem. One included a simple strength test on his affected arm. “I was shocked to see how much strength I had lost in my bad arm,” Balius shares.

“We pride ourselves on taking time with each patient to conduct a detailed examination,” Dr. Lotus explains. The muscle weakness that Mr. Balius had was concerning and I knew we needed to make a positive change quickly. When patients have neurologic weakness, it is us against time and time was not on our side since he had been suffering for so long."

Pain relief starts immediately

In their first appointment, Dr. Lotus explained the importance of centralization of symptoms. This means taking the symptoms out of the arm and moving them back to the spine. This was achieved by utilizing the McKenzie Assessment and Treatment and finding the condition’s Directional Preference- the specific load and direction to move the cervical spine (neck) that resulted in centralization. For Mr. Balius, a neck exercise called retraction resulted in centralization of symptoms, relief of the neurologic symptoms, and immediate improvement of strength in his left arm. This exercise was performed repeatedly right away Balius’s pain dropped from a 9/10 to a 2/10.

“I teared up because I finally felt hopeful that I had found someone who could help me,” Balius says.

Dr. Lotus and his patient then developed a treatment plan for the next four weeks with the understanding that if any progressive neurologic symptoms returned or worsened, he would be referred to the Spine Surgery team for a consultation.

Back to living

Today, just several weeks into treatment, Balius has significant relief and is getting back to his favorite activities, including fishing with his son with no weakness in his arm. He credits Dr. Lotus with helping him both physically and emotionally.

“I was just lucky to find him,” he says. “His confidence gave me the confidence that I had found the right care.”

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tom Lotus, click here or call 877-632-6637.