Failed Back Surgery

The Effects of Massage After Failed Lumbar Disc Surgery


Background: 31 year old woman presents low back pain with radicular pain into hips bilaterally, the right knee behind the patella and pain and some numbness into right ankle. The low back pain has been ongoing for a number of years and since 2000 had progressively worsened leading to excision surgery of extruded nucleus pulposus at L4-5 vertebra in June 2011. Client reported that for about three months post-surgery, low back pain diminished. Since then low back pain has progressively increased and daily living has been difficult. The client has been given the option by her medical doctor of lower lumbar spinal fusion.

Purpose: The objective in this case report is to describe the effects therapeutic massage has on the client’s symptoms and impairments of low back pain after failed disc excision surgery.

Research Design: The research design was a case report at a private school- The Center for Neurosomatic Studies. The application of assessment and treatment designed over a 6 week period of 5 sessions of 1 hour per treatment session. Common Swedish type massage and myofascial techniques were applied. Assessment and therapeutic massage was based on neuromuscular therapy. Massage and myofascial release techniques were applied to the back, pelvic region, thigh and lower leg. Client homework was also given to include exercise in activating supporting musculature and educating the client about condition management. Progress outcomes utilized visual analog pain scale and Oswestry Disability Index.

Results: After the five treatment sessions the client’s symptom’s had improved substantially. There was a reported decrease in pain and improvement in quality of daily living. The client also had a better understanding of the physiologic barriers lumbar disc dysfunction presents.

Conclusion: This case report was very interesting in that it allowed a better understanding of how massage therapy can affect pain associated with failed spinal disc surgery; 2 years post-surgery, in this individual. Additional research is needed to observe a relationship between massage and failed back surgery.

Key words: spinal disc excision, spinal fusion, low back pain, lumbar region, failed back surgery syndrome, massage

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