Another interesting case experience – a patient with low back pain

Posted On: May 1, 2017

I am going to continue with my series on interesting cases from the past.I am Dr. David Johnson a chiropractor and physical therapist in Highland Park and Lake Bluff. I am the director of North Shore Spinal and Sports Rehabilitation. I started as a chiropractor in Lake Forest, Il in 1988. I integrated physical therapy into my practice in 1990. I have close to thirty years of experience in the field of chiropractic and rehabilitation and I want to share some of my more interesting experiences.

When I first started off in the field of chiropractic my first clinic was Chiropractic of Lake Forest and I ran an advertisement in the local paper that said, “Thorough Evaluation and Quality Care”. I have always believed in this simple concept and have practiced it my entire career. My initial exams even today, in the midst of managed care, typically last an hour. I don’t believe a doctor can thoroughly evaluate some ones situation in less time.

Now on to the case I want to review. A woman in her mid-forties presented to my clinic with lower back pain. She explained that her pain was severe and was limiting her ability to do her job as an administrative assistant. She went on to explain that she had go days and bad days. When I tried to pin her down on activities she may be doing to provoke her pain, she explained that it didn’t really matter what she did, her pain would come and go randomly and had been doing so over the last month or so.

I inquired about he past history and she said other than having a benign mitral valve prolapse she was healthy. She had not had any surgeries other than a recent root canal, which she said went fine about two months ago.

Her vital signs were normal. She had no neurologic involvement. She was in distress and had a hard time even getting on and off the table. All of her ranges were painful. Her x-rays were negative for frank pathology.

I proceeded to provide palliative care, which consisted of physical therapy modalities to include interferential electric stimulation and ice. Being a chiropractor I naturally mobilized her spine in areas that I had identified as having articular restrictions.

The next day she came in and was miraculously healed. I couldn’t believe it as people don’t typically respond that rapidly. I was right and she came in on her third visit and was worse than ever. Something didn’t feel right with me about the case so I ordered a lumbar MRI.

The MRI revealed a spinal infection at the L5/S1 level. It turns out she hadn’t taken prophylactic antibiotics before her root canal. She was admitted into the hospital and received over a month of IV antibiotics and recovered.

Years later I ran into her at a café in Lake Bluff and she was happy and healthy. She made a point to thank me for what I had done. I was humbled as I was simply doing my job.

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