A Farmer’s Journey to Get Off Pain Killers & Get His Life Back

Charles Hanscom Shares His Story

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Marsha performs a manual lumbar rotation stretch with mobilization

Having spent much of his adult life working in construction and the last decade sheep farming, hard labor is nothing that Charles Hanscom shies away from. Five years ago, while splitting wood he sustained a back injury that put his active lifestyle in jeopardy.

He was diagnosed with a ruptured disc and was told that two others were bulging. “I slowly healed from that but I kept having incidents of severe pain 2-3 times a year,” said Charles. “As the years passed these incidents became more frequent, each disabling me for longer periods of time. No lasting solutions were ever offered. I was given medications, and I endured the pain for many years while relying on good friends to help with the farm when I could not.”

Prior to initiating treatment, Charles had been experiencing one of those periods of intense pain that just never seemed to ease up. Muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, and pain medications had become a routine “and they barely took the edge off,” Charles remembers. For three months he couldn’t sit; standing or lying down at all times. One night while at the kitchen counter, Charles began to fall apart.

“When pain is so constant and never eases up, it creates so much stress. I had a stress free life up to this point, so it was very hard to deal with it at times. You find yourself contemplating quality of life, and I felt that I had lost all of my fight. My brain had been registering pain for so long it just didn’t know anything different. Talking with my wife that night, we decided it was time to pick a new direction. Cioffredi & Associates had kept coming up as an option, so we decided to give it a shot, and I’m thrilled that I did.”


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Charles does forward lunges on the TRX

“My wife set up an appointment for a consultation and it was then that I met Marsha Wykes (PT, OCS, Cert. MDT) whose initial exam far exceeded any help that I had previously,” said Charles. “She discovered muscles that had ‘shut off’ to protect themselves and formulated a treatment plan to make me more comfortable. Up to this point I had been afraid to move my body at all. Marsha stretched it in ways that I would have been terrified to do on my own, just for fear of the result. Even though it hurt a bit to wake those muscles up, it felt ‘right’ from the start, and I got some relief even at that first visit.”

Charles’ treatment started with a lot of hands on manual work, and non-weight bearing movement and strengthening activities. As he gained more confidence in his abilities, he moved to more functional weight bearing activities that would mimic things he would be doing in his regular routine on the farm. Each step along the way Marsha was able to help him work through the fear, and showed him how to safely progress. Marsha noted, “Despite his early apprehension, Charles was consistently willing to participate in any and all treatment suggestions. He came in for each session remaining focused on the positive changes he was seeing in his body, and was increasingly energized by those changes as the weeks progressed. He moved along and gained strength, mobility, and confidence in his function on a faster time line than either of us expected. It was a pleasure to see Charles overcome his apprehension as we restored his confidence in his body and its abilities.”

In just eight weeks of treatment Charles has tapered himself off of the medications, and is back to confidently working on his farm. Currently, he is in the midst of spring lambing season; their busiest time of year. They’ve had 60 new lambs thus far and are still expecting a few more. Charles intends to continue building the strength and resilience needed to keep his back healthy by working with one of our Personal Trainers after the completion of his rehab.

“There are times now when I realize to myself that I’m doing OK, I’m not in agony. It’s a huge relief. At one point I thought I may have to sell my farm if I could not take care of my animals. Now my life is taking a turn back towards the positive.”


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Charles with his flock of sheep (and a few llamas!)


Charles invited Marsha and her kids to come see the baby lambs this spring. They had a great time!

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Marsha enjoys some lamb snuggles
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Marsha’s kids bottle feed some of the lambs