This 56 year-old woman came into the office with lower back pain that shot down the back of her right leg and into her foot. In her consultation she said, “She noticed slight lower back stiffness and discomfort about a year ago and it kept getting progressively worse until 2 weeks ago when the pain started going down her leg.”
She then relates that, “She’s had some lower back pain and stiffness and suffered from frequent constipation and diarrhea for over 10 years.” Which, after getting thousands of dollars in diagnostic tests (CAT scans, lab tests, and colonoscopies), was told that they couldn’t find anything wrong and that she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and put her on medications for some symptomatic relief.
On examination, she had tenderness, tightness, and swelling in her lower back. We took some initial x-rays of her lower back which you can see below:
As you can see from the picture on your left (which is the view of her lower back from the front) that she has a scoliosis measuring 5 degrees and from the picture on your right (which is the view of her lower back from the side) that she also has an increase in the normal curvature (red line), her 4th lumbar has slipped forward (called a spondylolithesis), and had a loss of the disc heights with spur formation indicating disc degeneration that had gone on for several years unchecked and as a consequence has continually gotten progressively worse. Which ultimately was causing pressure on the nerves going down her leg and into her foot as well as the nerves going to her small intestines and colon.
Once I found out exactly what was causing the problem and exactly what kind of condition her spine was in, and after performing a few necessary orthopedic and neurological tests (to rule anything else out), I performed a successful test adjustment (to find out if we could even correct what was causing the problem) and was confident we could help her and put her on a treatment plan which included a set schedule of chiropractic adjustments, in conjunction with a physical therapy modality called electronic muscle stimulation (to help reduce the muscle tightness and joint swelling), as well as certain restrictions on acts of daily living (sitting, standing, sleeping, bending, lifting, etc.) and the home use of therapeutic ice at specific time intervals to control the inflammation (instead of potential dangerous and more expensive oral anti-inflammatories).
After treating her 3 times a week for 2 weeks then 2 times a week for 2 more weeks we stopped and took another look and some progress films to see what if anything had changed. Which you can see below to the right next to her initial films for comparison.
As you can clearly see, the scoliosis came down to 3 degrees. As well as an improvement in the side curve toward normal (red line) and a slight improvement in the 4th lumbar misalignment. The lower back pain and pain down the back of her leg into her foot was significantly reduced and she noticed her IBS symptoms lessened and that she needed to use much less medications.
We continued her treatment as planned 2 times a week for 4 more weeks, switching her to a physical therapy modality called intersegmental traction (to help remove joint adhesions and promote regeneration of the degenerated discs), and then re-examined her. At which point she reported was even better had very little lower back pain and no pain down the back of her leg and hadn’t had any IBS symptoms for 3 weeks now!
We then gave her a few specific stretches and exercises to do at home and continued to check and adjust her as planned once a week for 4 more weeks to keep her spine in alignment while she stabilized it.
Following those 4 weeks she was re-examined and we took more x-rays to see if we accomplished what we need to. Which you can see below to the right next to her initial ones again for a comparison.
As you can see, the reduced scoliosis remained stable at 3 degrees and the side curve improved further to near normal (red line), the forward slipped 4th lumbar is corrected, and she even had a slight increase in the heights of the deteriorated discs. Now she’s far from perfect because of how much damage over years of neglect and lack of proper chiropractic care, however, she reported that her lower back and leg pain is completely gone and she has not had any IBS symptoms in almost 2 months now!