Back pain & sciatica case study

Maintaining quality of life

Jennifer, an active lady in her mid-seventies, arrived with acute lower back pain and sciatica. She had suffered two heavy falls and although she'd had x-rays of her spine taken, they showed nothing abnormal. I felt that something had been missed as previously she had played golf regularly and here she was, barely able to lie down on the treatment couch.

Unexpected scan results

Jennifer had to wait a few weeks for an MRI scan, so I began treatment with acupuncture to ease the pain down her left leg. The scan revealed a disc bulge with pressure on the nerve root, which was unusual as this is more typical of someone in their mid-forties. At this point, the acupuncture had eased the sciatica a great deal and after a few more osteopathic treatments Jennifer was able to walk her dog again and do some housework.

Hydrotherapy reveals all

To avoid this happening again, I suggested hydrotherapy sessions. This form of therapy would help her to build strength and improve fitness in the safety and comfort of the water. As soon as Jennifer began walking in the underwater treadmill, I saw that she had some issues with her balance and tended to walk with quite a pronounced forward lean. The glass sides of the treadmill allowed me to clearly observe Jennifer's gait pattern and customise her programme, focusing on balance and ‘walking taller’ to reduce tension in her lower back. After just three visits she was back playing golf again.

Falls prevention advice

Since working at the Hydrotherapy Centre, I have become very aware of how little I sees of my patients actually walking and how important balance is. As we get older, we tend not to challenge ourselves as much and are then surprised when we slip or fall.