So I’m fully prepared for a fall out on this one but bare with me because it is personal. In the 9 years it took to get a diagnosis on AS (ankylosing spondylitis) I have seen 3 physios (plus lots of other professionals). 1 local NHS (ordered an x-ray, never touched me), 1 private (mix of assessment, exercise modifications and manual treatment) and 1 from the hospital (only talk). Guess which one actually helped??

A physio who is not prepared or equipped to offer assessment, advise AND hands on therapy in my opinion is not helpful and I’ll tell you why; NONE of them will admit that exercises can only get you so far with chronic conditions like mine. There is no silver bullet, there is no magical plank time that, once reached, the back pain will be forever banished! You absolutely need a mixture of care and relief, even if it’s temporary, so, prescribe all you like but give people a bit of a squeeze at their appointments too! One of the most powerful things I have heard from my doctor is “look, I get it, the prospect of living another 40 years like this is pretty terrifying”- truth is appreciated. Help people navigate maintenance and stop spouting off in general terms about “pain” like it’s all the same and can be remedied. Now, of course, not exercising is just not an option and I would never dream of telling people not to bother. I genuinely would not be walking around right now if I did not have my own rehab-based Pilates practice, but I have developed this ON MY OWN. On discharge from hospital in a wheel chair in 2018 I was left to my own devices with nothing but a pair of crutches, so thank god for upper body strength and my ability to pay for private care when I could get out the house (2 months later!).

It’s Therapy Live tomorrow, an annual expo featuring lots of therapists giving talks on all things rehab. I have chosen not to attend this year for 2 reasons, 1; women are woefully underrepresented and 2; a lot of the speakers are the ones who shout loudest on Twitter getting into spats over straw man arguments. I recently purchased a booklet from someone I did admire in the rhelm of rheumatology but was SO disappointed when it arrived. It was a thin hand-out, 5 pages of easily googleable bullet points and contained incorrect information. I was furious, and the only reply was an offer to return it. I’m sure many women let their imposter syndrome keep them from speaking more at such events but all this really shone a light at what some people feel is OK