Recently I was able to help give lower back pain relief to a patient who came to my chiropractic office of 37 years. Jean, a 79-year-old woman, had been experiencing severe lower back pain for approximately one month. Her pain was growing worse, and she was at a point where she decided she had to gain pain relief. Jean’s case was complicated, and interesting, because she had undergone lower back spinal fusion surgery five years earlier. This article described lower back pain, spinal fusion surgery and how a multi-faceted chiropractic care approach gave this patient low back pain relief.
Jean’s case was like many I’ve seen in my three-plus decades of chiropractic practice. Over the course of her life, she injured her back multiple times. When she was younger, when experiencing episodes of lower back pain, she would cut back on her activities, rest and her back pain would completely resolve. As she grew older, into middle age, her lower back pain episodes became chronic, leaving her with a mild, low level, constant, nagging ache. Five years before she came to my office, she experienced a severe bout of lower back pain. She went to her PCP who referred her to a back surgeon. She underwent lower back fusion surgery. The fusion she had involved inserting metal screws and clamps to fuse her lower two spinal vertebrae together. Jean told me it helped diminish the strong lower back pain she was having, however she reverted back to the milder nagging pain she’d had before the surgery.
When I initially met with Jean, she was having significant, constant right lower back ache which referred into her right thigh. She could only stand and walk approximately 10 minutes due to her lower back pain before having to sit down to rest to gain some measure of relief of back discomfort. Perhaps most disconcerting to her was her inability to visit with her children and grandchildren.
X-rays of Jean’s lower back confirmed previous fusion surgery with metal screws and clamps easily visible. X-rays also showed misaligned joints of the pelvis causing the pinching of her sciatic nerve. She also had compression lower back intervertebral disc below the fusion area that was causing a great deal of her lower back pain.
Her physical examination found her having significant muscle spasms of her lower back and a great deal of inflammation.
Jean’s treatment consisted of traction, which was aimed at decompressing her lower back disc problem. A gentle, safe type of spinal manipulation using a specialized chiropractic adjusting table helped to realign her pelvic joints and relieve her sciatic pain. Electrical muscle stimulation and pressure point therapy gave her relief of the intense muscle spasms she was experiencing. She learned how to use applications of cold packs, on her own at home, to reduce swelling and inflammation. I also gave her stretching and strengthening exercises to do.
Over the course of six weeks of treatment consisting of roughly 12 visits to my office, Jean’s lower back pain was improved by 90%. She was able to stand and walk sufficiently so she could do her normal household chores and go shopping.
I was especially pleased that she was able to return to visiting with her family. She said it was the greatest source of her life’s joy!