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Student Case Study: Sleep Quality & Back Pain

Sleep Quality and LBP

The Effects of Massage Therapy on Reducing Pain, Improving Sleep Quality, and Increasing Breathing Function on a Sciatica Patient: A Case Study

Melinda Lugo


Background: Sciatica is one of the most common variations of low back pain. As many as 30% of sciatica patients experience pain symptoms one year after onset, making a substantial impact on quality of life and workplace productivity. The efficacy of medications prescribed to treat sciatica is unclear, and the long-term effects of using these interventions makes them undesirable for chronic pain patients.

Participant: A 36-year-old Hispanic female office worker with recurrent pneumonia presents with low back pain and sciatica in the left hip following a weightlifting injury.

Diagnosis: Sciatica; notable health issues include a history of low back pain, recurrent pneumonia, and bronchitis

Purpose: To discover if the utilization of massage, combined with inner unit stabilization exercises, can decrease pain, improve sleep quality, and increase breathing pattern functionality

Intervention: The practitioner is a 44-year-old female in the 8th month of an 18-month program at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies (CNS). Biweekly targeted, deep-tissue massage treatments were performed, and the patient completed inner unit stabilization exercises as at-home practice. Results were tracked using the Bournemouth Back Questionnaire, ODI, PGIC , and postural assessments.

Results: Pain levels were significantly reduced in both the lower back and hip, and overall quality of life scores improved as indicated on the Bournemouth Back Questionnaire, ODI, and PGIC. The patient also discontinued use of her rescue inhaler by the end of the study.

Conclusion: Specific, directed massage techniques and inner unit stabilization exercises decreased back and hip pain, improved sleep quality, and increased breathing function in one sciatica patient. Further research is needed to determine if the same outcomes can be expected for a larger population of patients with the same symptoms.

Keywords: Sciatica, low back pain, breathing pattern, sleep quality, massage, inner unit stabilization, case report

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