ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For more than 30 years, licensed physical therapist Lisa Chase has helped her patients recover from injuries and diminish their pain.

She even spent nine years with the Women’s Tennis Association pro tour, working with athletes like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

Now, she’s been forced to call upon a lifetime of knowledge and professional expertise—along with a community of peers—to treat herself.

What You Need To Know

  • Licensed physical therapist Lisa Chase was herself diagnosed with arthritis

  • She continues to treat patients while undergoing her own healing regimen

  • She says her treatment helps her relate more closely to others

“After I left the tour, which was at the end of 2009, I started to notice I was having pain in my hands,” she says. “Over the years, you know, you just keep using your hands, and it got to the point that I went and got an X-ray and they said ‘yes, you’re getting some arthritis in that joint.’”

The X-ray, taken around two years ago, showed problems in Chase’s wrist and thumb joint. Up to that point, she’d been treating herself using various therapies; with an official diagnosis, she began seeking out additional, more intensive non-surgical options, including some used at her own practice, Back 2 Normal, in St. Petersburg.

“We do something called Astym which is using instruments that help with the regeneration of ligaments, tendons and muscles, so there’s not so much load and stress on the joint,” she says. “We have a technology, deep laser therapy, I was able to do deep laser to control the inflammation and to facilitate my own body's ability to heal, so it was great to be able to use that.”

Despite sometimes excruciating pain, she continued to work, taking only a couple of days off following an injection. She sometimes wears a brace when working, but believes her prognosis is good, and that she’ll be able to continue helping patients heal well into the future.

“I’m definitely hopeful,” she says. “I mean, I’ve got the best people around me, I’ve got great technologies and access to things… I'm confident that we can limit the progression of it. I feel better now than I did two months ago, where it was hard to even load into the tissue and be able to grip.”

She says that more than anything, her health issues have helped her better relate to, and thus better treat, those who come to see her with their own.

“I had a herniated disk when I was on the tour. That was very debilitating, way more debilitating than my hand, so I have experienced injuries, and I'll tell you what injuries do to anybody who's in the medical field is, it gives you a very good perspective on pain, and how it affects your life,” she says. “I feel like I can really relate to my patients, because when I have somebody who comes in and they can't move and they're like, ‘is this ever going to get better,’ and they're fearful of moving and they're scared and they're frustrated, I understand that so I think it really gives you a perspective.”