After I Tripped; A New Physical Therapist (Friday Series #10)

(Disclaimer: The STS machine is no longer available for treatment in the USA. The machine is no longer made. I do not know why. I purchased my own STS machine in 2001, and I still use it to this day.)

I started going to physical therapy to work with a man named Dave Solheim. He believed in chronic pain. He believed in Fibromyalgia Syndrome. And he believed in me! He introduced me to the Sympathetic Therapy System machine; the STS machine. The STS machine looks like a TENS unit, the set up is very similar. He warned me the STS machine may work, but it just as likely would not, so not to be upset if nothing happened during this first trial. The treatment time on the machine was 60 minutes. About 20 minutes in, I could feel my body begin to relax, it was working! I couldn’t believe the relief I was feeling! Sharp pains were dulled. I began to cry, and a very worried technician ran into the room to stop the machine! I explained it was working and I couldn’t believe it. I was experiencing a longed-for relief of the sharp, constant pain I was always in. I could actually take a deep breath in without pain! I began seeing Dave three times a week. Within a month, I could receive hugs without reeling from the pain they caused. I was able to purchase my own STS machine. (I used it once in the morning and once in the evening for years, now only as needed.)

The TENS unit creates a buzzing feeling on your skin to send a message up the spinal cord to release pain-killing endorphins in the brain. The TENS machine did not work for me. Unfortunately, it increased my pain. The TENS unit does work for the majority who try it. You can purchase home units rather cheaply. My husband has one for his bad back. The STS machine works on the sympathetic nervous system.

So let’s decipher what the sympathetic nervous system is? I turn to Wikipedia for the explanation because it made me chuckle at the end! This is the description;

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system, the other being the parasympathetic nervous system

The autonomic nervous system functions to regulate the body’s unconscious actions. The sympathetic nervous system’s primary process is to stimulate the body’s fight-or-flight response. It is, however, constantly active at a basic level to maintain homeostasis homeodynamics.[3] The sympathetic nervous system is described as being antagonistic to the parasympathetic nervous system which stimulates the body to “feed and breed” and to (then) “rest-and-digest.”

Okay, so since our fibro bodies are stuck in the fight or flight response, the STS machine signals the brain that the body response is not needed. We are able to relax go on to the parasympathetic part of the nervous system to “feed and breed and to (then) rest and digest.” 

This machine did not work for everyone. I fact, it did not work for the majority of people who tried it. Many times the signal could just not get through. I was one of the lucky ones. It worked for me…

Class dismissed! (I’ve always wanted to say that.)

(To be continued.)


26 thoughts on “After I Tripped; A New Physical Therapist (Friday Series #10)

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    1. Here’s the kicker, I called that physical therapy office to see if I could talk to Dave… I think 3 years ago, when I was researching for my book. The PT that answered the phone said no one but Dave knew how to even use the machine. I asked why? She said no one cared to train for it. Only Dave. What is wrong with this picture???

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  1. The STS machine sounds interesting, and I’m glad it worked for you Kim. I think even more important than the machine is what you said about Dave – he BELIEVED! After all that time of being in misery, you had someone who believed you, and therefore had the potential to help you. I know you had to be grateful to finally have some relief.

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    1. I just don’t know. I did talk to a PT in Florida. He still uses the STS machine but with no replacements… he’ll have to give up that part of treatment. I think getting your own machine and using it daily makes a big difference. Not enough people were able to purchase a unit and go that route. I am really frustrated they pulled the machine!

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    1. I definitely would have been. I can still get replacements (those sticky things) electrodes… but this machine as a treatment has run its course. I don’t benefit as much as I used to from it. But it was a life saver for me in the beginning.😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not tried a TENS machine but I do know a few people who do & have found it helps, but to varying degrees. It’s a case of you don’t know until you try as to whether it’ll help, how much it’ll be of benefit, or whether it’ll make pain worse. I didn’t know about the STS machine you’d mentioned in your other post so thanks for explaining the differentiation here.
    Good ol’ Dave, he sounds like a keeper! Wish there were more open-minded, compassionate, chronic pain & fibro-believing folks like him around…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My hubby has a bad back. One time it went out and all he could do was basically crawl. We hooked him up to the STS, not much but some relief. We got him into a chiropractor, she did some adjustments and hooked him up to a TENS unit. He responded! He now has his own TENS unit. My point, rambling, sorry! You never know what’ll work unless you try… there’s a new machine I’ve seen on others blogs… I cannot remember the name!!! People are reporting good things… anyway, we are not dealing with a cookie cutter disease.

      Dave was great! Very good. Very caring… he helped me by showing me how to exercise, gently. I ended up in a therapy belt, my pelvis was wonky, too long to explain, wonky works. So many little things in addition to the STS machine. Dave was the bomb! I’d really like to thank him.😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It must have been incredible, feeling the pain ebb away like that. I’ve never heard of an STS machine, but thanks for the explanation, and I’m so happy it worked for you. It’s the same with me and gluten–4 years ago, my arthritis was so bad that I could barely walk, let alone make it through the day, but after reading some studies, I took all the gluten out of my diet. It took a while but a few months later, I was able to go for walks without too much pain, and 4 years in, I can work out, jog, and do all kinds of things, including type this! But like your STS, it doesn’t work for everyone–I was lucky that it did for me:-)

    Liked by 1 person

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