Osteopathy Case Study 2 – Acute Back Pain

Mike is a 37 year-old self-employed roofer who has made an appointment for
acute back pain following a lifting incident at work three days previously.
He is in obvious pain, is struggling to stand up straight and has been finding it
difficult to relax.

During the history he mentions that he has had a few previous similar episodes,
usually brought on by heavy work and that they usually last for a week or so. He
had one more serious episode of back pain radiating to his left leg which lasted
for about 6 weeks and which his doctor told him was due to a ‘slipped disc’.
The osteopath examines him standing and moving and also does some basic
neurological testing. This reveals nothing sinister and the osteopath explains
that he has probably just incurred a simple muscle strain and is also in a lot of
spasm. However, it is likely that he has had a previous lumbar disc injury and
that this, plus his job which involves a lot of lifting and working in awkward and
cold conditions is pre-disposing him to repeated back strains.

It is decided that today’s treatment will be ‘first aid’ aimed at reducing the muscle
spasm and making him more comfortable. The osteopath treats him with some
deep tissue massage, some rhythmic stretching and some spinal manipulation.
He is sent home with instructions to do some gentle exercises, take some overthe-
counter painkillers and do a little ice-packing.

He comes back in 3 days and reports that he is much better and is keen to
return to work as soon as possible. The osteopath treats him again and gives
him some advice to try and prevent further episodes. He is advised to warm up
before undertaking heavy lifting or bending and to try and vary his working
position so that he doesn’t overwork his back muscles. He is also shown some
exercises to strengthen his core muscles.

Mike is happy that, on this occasion, his problem wasn’t serious and responded
well to treatment. As he is self-employed it is important to him to get back to
work quickly and the fact that he can be seen and treated within a couple of
days makes osteopathic treatment worth the investment.