A Complementary Therapy Treatment Plan for a Pre-Existing Back Problem
Some of my clients come to me with long standing health conditions. They may have had surgery, physiotherapy or have been seeing a chiropractor. They are still suffering from pain and are looking for ways to alleviate their symptoms. As a Complementary Therapist, I can use a variety of different methods to find a good outcome for my clients. I am able to diversify the treatments to see which method gives the client the best results.
A client came to see me suffering from back pain after back surgery. I asked the client if they would be willing to take part in a case study. I wanted to use as many different methods as possible to enable me to find the treatment that gave the client the most benefit and relief from pain. We agreed upon a treatment plan whereby the client came to see me every week for 8 weeks. We also incorporated a healthy eating plan as well as an exercise routine that included swimming, aqua fit and aqua jog.
The client was happy for me to publish the results so that any potential clients could use the information to make a judgement on whether or not to proceed with a treatment plan for themselves to treat any existing problems that they may have.
Case Study – Client C
I asked Client C to tell me about the problems she had been having with her back. Here is a brief summary:
“About 15 years ago I started to experience discomfort in my left leg after walking for a few miles. Over the years this got worse and worse. I kept thinking it was sciatica and it would go away. After seeing a PT and increasing my fitness, my first test was skiing. I had more energy and did more runs but the next day I couldn’t control my left leg. I went to the doctor who referred me to a specialist and following MRI scans, my consultant said “what’s not wrong with your back?” I had degenerative discs in S1 through to L3, bulging discs, an additional vertebra and some wonky bits. The first treatment was injections and caudal epidural. My condition improved for 8 weeks or so. I went back and had more injections, this time no effect. I was referred to a surgeon who began by establishing which of my issues was causing the pain, using spinal discography. I undertook an intensive course of physio but there was no improvement and my condition worsened. Standing for more than a minute led to pain, walking 400 yards led to pain. Every time I went anywhere, I was always looking for a seat. The pain was so bad it reduced me to tears. I became depressed, I put on weight and drank too much.
After much deliberation and discussion with the surgeon, I took the decision to have the surgery, total recovery time, 18 months. After 7 months, I can walk pain free but still feel a strain on my back. My core strength and balance is practically non-existent. I have not lost the weight but gained more. I am right back into my career and putting me and my health second.
I have been given a second chance. I am fortunate to have company private health care, otherwise I would not have had the operation. I am so lucky but am now not playing my part in my full recovery. Early post op stages I was very good. Now that I’m back in a normal life, not so good. Weight gain has affected my confidence as a woman.
Lynda from Blissful Moments has suggested an exercise plan, healthy eating and an 8 week course of treatments to work on my back, mind and my well-being. The first week of the plan started with swimming, aquafit, plus massage – feeling positive and determined. Massage treatment raised awareness of more soreness/weakness in left side. Feels good to be doing something for me.”
The 8 week treatment plan
Here I describe the methods that I used each week and any observations:
I used a cold wheat bag – the wheat bag had been in the freezer overnight. I focused on the scar area using circular motions up and down the scar and stretching away from the scar. I then massaged the upper back and the hamstrings.
This time I used a hot wheat bag – microwaved for 30 seconds. I placed a pillow under the stomach and hips as well as a rolled towel under the ankles for comfort. I massaged the scar area and located a sore spot slightly lower than the scar and to the left, the gluteus medius muscle – I worked this area. I massaged the shoulders as there was some tension there.
As the pain is located on one side of the body mostly – the left – I feel there must be an issue with client C’s posture. I have noted how badly she walks and discussed this with her. I used a massage ball on the spot located in week 2 for 10 minutes then followed this with 10 minutes of relaxing reflexology. I recommended that Client C purchase a massage ball and use it on a daily basis.
I used trigger point therapy and massage tools but the client reported the next day that she had been unable to sleep on the left hip. We discussed posture again and concluded that the client leans forward whilst walking so she needs to be mindful of her posture.
Focussed on the buttocks and ham strings. I used my forearms and my fists along the buttocks and hamstrings putting pressure into the tender spot. Client C said it was the best massage she’d ever had.
I used an Aromatherapy Hot Poultice – Eucalyptus, Black Pepper and Rosemary to alleviate aches and pains. I placed a pillow under her hips and a roll under her ankles. Whilst the poultice was on I gave a back massage, Client C felt her muscles relaxing.
Gave a traditional Swedish massage incorporating vigorous hacking, cupping and beating.
Lava Shell Massage. The Client is well with no major aches. Client C enjoyed the use of the hot shells on the Gluteus Medius. I think the heat is very beneficial.
It was good to find the root of the pain and be able to work on that area using pressure and heat. The client really appreciated the relaxing treatments enabling the muscles to release tension. The treatments also encouraged Client C to have more self worth and realise how important it was to put herself and her health first. It was useful to be able to discuss health issues on a regular basis and identify ways in which the client could help herself and encourage her to continue on the road to recovery as well as maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
There is a definite benefit to having regular treatments. If a client comes to me with a specific problem that they would like me to treat, I recommend coming once a week for 4 to 6 weeks, then fortnightly for 4 – 6 weeks, then monthly for maintenance. To encourage clients to come regularly, I offer discounts depending on whether they come weekly or fortnightly.
I absolutely loved working with Client C and having the opportunity to ease her aches and pains. But mostly I enjoyed the open dialogue between us as we looked for ways to think positively about improving her health, well-being (physical and mental) and lifestyle.
If you think that a treatment plan could benefit you, please do get in touch, I would love to hear from you.