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Chronic Pain

A Conversation with Dr. Rebecca Klingenschmitt, Active Solutions Rehab and Wellness

Doctor of Physical Therapy Rebecca Klingenschmitt, wants to share a road to health; a place in your life where you can be active and happy. We spoke with Rebecca at her clinic in Tampa, located inside the Put Bull Fitness Center, to find out about her journey and mission for health. 

“When I first got out of school, I worked at a bustling clinic and found myself getting burnt out within the first year. I was expected to see 12 to 15 patients per day. By the end of the first year, I was exhausted and thinking about how I had just spent seven years in school to do this. It was very unfulfilling.

“I started looking around and found others who had started their own businesses, seeing patients one-on-one. They were happy not dealing with insurance and all of that red tape. At that time, I had only been out of school for about a year, so I didn’t feel ready to jump out there on my own. I changed jobs only to find more of the same. Then, I changed jobs again. It was a little better—but really, more of the same.”

Through this unfulfillment, Rebecca knew there was another way to serve the community in the field she loved. After moving with her husband to Tampa Bay in October 2020, she started her own business. Her research began even before the move.

“I started doing some stuff on Instagram, hoping to make a few connections. My husband attended high school here, so we had a few friends already.”

Rebecca started her business in January 2021 as a mobile therapist, and she would constantly reach out to different people and groups.

“I began establishing business relationships with psychologists, some direct care physicians, chiropractors, and the fitness community. I met with various personal trainers, massage therapists, gym owners, etc., just trying to make connections. It was pretty slow moving,” Rebecca says.

By August 2022, Rebecca was able to move into her new location inside Pit Bull Fitness.

“I felt I was starting over again, in a sense. The patients I had been seeing as a mobile practitioner finished up their care plans. They were spread out everywhere, so many didn’t want to drive to my new physical location.”

Since moving into her new location, Rebecca has focused on doing workshops and having and attending events to create a presence in the community. You can find Rebecca and her team at the First Friday Block Party held monthly at the Westchase Town Center. 

“The main challenge with my type of business is that we don’t accept insurance. I can network with other physicians, but most healthcare is in the ‘network.’ When you meet physicians in the network, their patients are likely to expect to use their insurance. It’s tough to get people to change their mindset about insurance. I try to help people understand their bodies are an investment.”

Coming out of the military with an injury has turned the lives of many from active and healthy to sedentary. Without a personal trainer to identify specific needs, a person can be lost in the system with prescription pills to remember the pain. In an effort to stop masking the pain with prescription meds, we asked Rebecca her thoughts on exercise through pain.

“Pain has a really bad rap in general, and it’s scary when you have pain or an injury. People stop moving because they are afraid they will make something worse. The one thing to do first is to start changing the way you think about pain,” Rebecca says , “If you are having chronic shoulder pain, for example, there’s probably a lot of things you can do that are okay. Maybe you have some pain while doing these moves, but it doesn’t get any worse when you stop the movement. You must always proceed cautiously and listen to your body, but pain does not always mean you are damaging something. There is a saying I love, ‘Hurt does not Equal Harm. Pain doesn’t always equal damage.’”

STARTING POINT

Rebecca has her patients begin an aerobic exercise regimen when dealing with chronic pain. Her goal is to start with something that does not increase their pain. Based on the patient’s experience, for example, with a back injury, there may be more pain when walking, so she will choose a recumbent bike instead of a treadmill. 

COMMITMENT IN SMALL BITES

Once Rebecca has identified suitable movements, she will ask her patients if they can commit to five minutes daily and then build on that.

“I know there is the mindset to go hard the first time, especially people who are in the military, but I like to tell people when you’re dealing with chronic pain, and you’re trying to get back into some exercise program, start with some aerobic exercise and then build up from that. Don’t get yourself to a point where you cannot work out because you did an hour of biking after not biking in five years. Even though you feel you could do more, you should stop. I know it is hard sometimes for people to change their mindset on those things, but it can be tricky when dealing with pain, especially chronic pain.” 

GETTING STRONG

There is another phrase that Rebecca lives by, “You can’t go wrong getting strong.” Rebecca says, “Getting strong and strengthening helps with many conditions.”

She understands there are some situations where people have chronic back pain and have been doing tons of core work for years and still have pain.

“This is an indicator that there is something we are missing and need to identify for a successful program,” she explains. 

MASTERING PAIN

It is known that upwards of 70to-80 percent of people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Generalizing a program for back pain is tough since everyone’s situation is different.

“Physical Therapists are trained to identify things that are contraindications for therapy and can identify red flags that may indicate the need for an X-RAY or MRI.” Rebecca says , “In the majority of cases, people with chronic pain have been dealing with it for a long time and have had tons of imaging. In Physical Therapy, we treat what’s in front of us. An MRI image doesn’t really tell us how to treat you.”

In a physical therapist/patient relationship, the therapist can get to know a person and spend actual time with them, unlike rushing through a clinical environment. “We believe in a personalized program because not everything works for everyone,” Rebecca says . 

At Active Solutions Rehab & Wellness, Rebecca and her team like to work with active adults, but the term “active” is very broad. Active could mean that you want to go on a daily walk or you are training for an Ironman competition.

“Some people just want to be able to do a squat, or deadlift, or another type of exercise,” she explains, “My first objective with any client is to identify their goals. Knowing the ultimate goal allows me to break things down and determine if a person is capable right now.”

“Imagine living a life where you can move without limitations!”

“Your health is an investment.”

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