CJ presented in clinic during her first pregnancy suffering with low back pain and sciatica in her right leg. We began by settling down her acute symptoms, balancing a significant pelvic torsion pattern, which was putting increased strain on her lowest lumbar disc and nerve root. This was done using a variety of osteopathic techniques (stretching, soft tissue massage, articulation, manipulation & cranio-sacral techniques).
We worked throughout her pregnancy to maintain the best balance possible through the muscles & joints in her lower back and pelvis, achieving an improved postural alignment. CJ also helped herself enormously by taking up Pilates. The labour was relatively long, but she had a successful vaginal delivery of her baby girl.
Following the birth, an MRI Scan was necessary to assess if her back was strong enough for another pregnancy, which the doctor felt it was. But it showed significant dehydration (thinning) of the lower 3 discs in her back, the middle of these in particular.
During her second pregnancy, CJ had similar symptoms early on and we commenced treatment right away. She also had pubic symphysis pain due to the ligaments across the joint being stretched, as the bones separated. We supported this with a pregnancy pelvic belt to wear in the daytime. Now caring for a toddler, as well as her work commitments, was putting her body under more strain. She managed reasonably well with osteopathic treatment & pregnancy Pilates, but had a set back during the last trimester, where she experienced an extreme episode of back pain lasting 7 days, needing medical care and pain relief through morphine. This gradually reduced resulting in the last 2 weeks post due date becoming pain free; a welcome relief. She managed to deliver her son vaginally who was 2 pounds heavier than her daughter.
Another MRI scan took place after the birth of her son, to check what damage had occurred during the 2nd pregnancy. On meeting the surgeon, he was shocked to see she was walking and still had full use of her right leg. His opinion was that surgery was inevitable as her nerves were being crushed. After a significant increase in symptoms some weeks later (numbness in right foot / ankle spreading up calf) she had a L4/5 microdiscectomy to release the crushed nerve root. She began Pilates again after 8 weeks and osteopathic treatment after 9 weeks; involving intensive osteopathic treatment for 6 weeks, reducing to every 2 weeks, then monthly and finally bi-monthly. She has now had a period of 6 months where she hasn’t needed any osteopathic treatment.
This case is an example of how osteopathic treatment can work alongside the medical profession in the care of our patients. In a small amount of cases the body needs the extra help of a skilled surgeon, but combined with manual therapy and patient motivation, a good outcome is achievable.