A 35 year old male was treated at the Illinois Back Institute for severe Back Pain and Sciatica. This is his case study.
The patient came into our clinic with back and leg pain that was not getting any better. He had been experiencing the pain for years, but six months ago it became intolerable. On a scale of zero to ten, with 10 being the worst pain imaginable, the patient said it was on average a 7. It had gotten so bad that he could no longer work!
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Before he came to the Illinois Back Institute he had tried many different therapies, but none of them helped. In his words some of them made him feel worse. These therapies included:
- Wearing a Back Brace
- Physical Therapy
- Narcotics for pain
- Epidural Shots into the Spine
The patient's goal in coming to us was to get rid of the pain in his back and leg, and more importantly avoid surgery. He had heard about us on television and wasn't sure our treatment would work because nothing else had. But he was desperate to avoid going under the knife, so he wanted to give it a try.
On the patient's first day of treatment, he rated his pain as a 7 and his Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) was scored at a 42 (on a scale of 0-100). The ODI is an indicator of how well a patient can perform the activities of daily living. The score is used as a way to measure the effect that pain has on the ability of a person to live their life, and the higher that the score is, the more that their life is affected by pain. The ODI scale is measured as follows:
- Score of 0-20 - Minimal Disability: These people can cope with most day-to-day activities. Usually no treatment is indicated, other than some advice on proper lifting, sitting posture, physical fitness, and diet.
- Score of 20-40 - Moderate Disability: This group experiences more pain and problems with lifting, sitting, and standing. It is more difficult for them to travel or have a social life, and they may not be able to work. Their back condition can usually be managed by conservative means.
- Score of 40-60 - Severe Disability: For these people, pain remains their main problem. Their back conditions require detailed investigation.
- Score of 60-80 - Crippled: Back pain affects all aspects of these patient's lives. Intervention is required for these people to get better.
- Score of 80-100 - These people are either exaggerating their symptoms, or not able to even get out of bed.
A score of 42 indicates that the patient was severely disabled from the pain, and usually indicates that the person cannot get better on their own. Doctors will most often recommend surgery for patients with this level of pain for an extended period of time, which our patient was hoping to avoid. So because all other previous interventions had not helped our patient feel any better, we were his last hope for regaining a normal life.
The patient's MRI revealed that he had a Grade 1 Degenerative Spondylolisthesis accompanied by a Diffuse Disc Bulge that resulted in Bilateral Stenosis in his lower back. In another area of his low back he also had a Herniated Disc that was pinching the Sciatic Nerve, causing the pain in his legs. These are complicated back problems that would definitely lead to surgery if they did not get better. The surgery of choice for these problems would most likely be a fusion of the vertebrae of his spine, which is a very complicated and costly surgery with a lengthy recovery time.
During our evaluation of the patient it was also determined that he had issues with his posture that caused an increase in the load on his discs, along with some muscle weakness in the primary stabilizer muscles of his spine and core. Our goal was to decrease his pain by facilitating healing in the discs and spine, while also reactivating and strengthening his stabilizing muscles to correct his posture. His treatment was scheduled for three times a week for three months.
After 12 treatments the patient's pain had dropped to 4, and his ODI was already down to a 32. After his 24th treatment his pain was a 2, his ODI was at 30, and the pain in his legs was nearly gone. We knew that back problems as severe as his would indicate a slower recovery period, but he was improving steadily as expected.
At the end of his treatments, the pain in his back and leg was at zero and his ODI had dropped all the way down to below 20. He was able to avoid surgery and get his life back!
The Illinois Back Institute is dedicated to educating people, because we know that the more that you understand about your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it. If you are suffering from Back Pain and Sciatica, we can help!