Osteopathy Case Study 3 – Chronic Back & Shoulder Pain

Sarah is a 30-year-old teacher, currently on maternity leave after having her first
child 4 months previously. She has come because of generalized back pain,
aching in her low back which worsens during the day and also tension in her
neck and shoulders.

Her health is generally good and she was quite sporty
before her pregnancy but she gained a lot of weight which she still hasn’t lost
and also had a difficult labour which resulted in an emergency Caesarian
section. She is still breast-feeding her daughter.

Sarah is quite despondent about her back pain and feels very tired at the end of every day.
On examining Sarah it is obvious her posture has suffered due to the weightgain,
pregnancy and the Caesarian. Her stomach muscles are weak and her
low back is over-arched. She also looks quite round-shouldered. No movement
is particularly painful but prolonged standing makes her low back begin to ache.
The osteopath explains that Sarah’s symptoms are probably due to the postural
changes associated with her pregnancy. The Caesarian has weakened her
stomach muscles and led to her lordotic (over-arched) posture. Her upper body
compensates by bending forward , shortening her pectoral (chest) muscles and
making her look round-shouldered. This, coupled with the bending and lifting of
the baby and the long periods spent sitting breast-feeding has led to fatigue and
aching of her spinal muscles.

The osteopath suggests she tries two or three sessions of treatment to stretch
the shortened low back and chest muscles and also gives her some advice on
some exercises she can do to improve her posture and muscle tone. As the
baby becomes less dependent and she gets more time, it would be good for her
to resume some regular exercise, perhaps yoga or Pilates which would help
with her strength and flexibility.

After a month or so, Sarah reports some improvement in her back pain and her
posture is looking better. She continues to lose weight steadily and has joined a
mums jogging group which meets once a week in the park. She is getting
stronger and fitter and is feeling more positive.