Grandmother’s love surpasses back pain

Tyler A. Ptacek, M.D.

Grandmother’s love surpasses back pain

Back pain can be disabling, not only in terms of employment but also in terms of social connections. This point was never more clear to me than when I saw Maria, a 56-year-old experiencing severe low back pain for nearly five years. The pain prevented her from standing or walking for more than five minutes at a time and had cost her the job she loved. Maria shared with me her one heart-wrenching goal; she wanted to hold her first grandchild, a six-month-old baby boy. Doing so had caused pain so intense it put her in bed for a full day afterwards.

At our first visit, we discussed the treatments she had exhausted with no relief. Pain pills had severe side effects. She tried numerous steroid injections which seemed to help for several weeks, but the pain returned as did her disability. These “quick fixes” were not only failing to relieve her pain but were causing other health issues. She was diagnosed with osteopenia and pre-diabetes; both are known risks of prolonged steroid use. She had been told there were no other options for her. I reviewed her medical history and immediately noticed a glaring treatment deficit; she had never been to physical therapy.