The Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health published a unusual study on March 23, 2017, documenting the case of a pregnant woman with lower back pain being helped by chiropractic. What makes this case unusual is that the woman had previous spinal surgery and had Harrington rods inserted into her spine.
According to Wikipedia, the Harrington rod is a stainless steel surgical device that was implanted along the spinal column to treat curvatures of the spine, or scoliosis. Up to one million people had Harrington rods implanted for scoliosis between the early 1960s and the late 1990s.
The study begins by noting that chiropractic care for pregnant women has been a popular occurrence for much of the chiropractic profession’s history. Commonly, women seek chiropractic care to address physical complaints such as pregnancy-related musculoskeletal complaints. However, many pregnant women seek chiropractic for wellness care and to improve the birth experience.
In this case, a 28-year-old woman who was in her 21st week of pregnancy, sought chiropractic care with a chief complaint of shoulder and neck pain, which she attributed to her scoliosis. She had surgery seven years prior for a moderate scoliosis. Harrington rods were inserted into her spine from her second thoracic to her second lumbar vertebrae.
She rated her constant pain as 6 out of 10, with 10 being the worst. She recalled that this episode started when she was lying on her left side and she felt a muscle tightened so tightly that it was pulling on the rods from her scoliosis surgery. Her pain was worse at night and was too painful for her to get a massage. Her left shoulder was restricted and she claimed that she could not lift anything with her left arm. Additionally, she reported that she occasionally suffered with headaches and sinus congestion.
A chiropractic examination was performed, and it was determined that subluxations were present. A series of specific chiropractic adjustments were begun to address the woman’s subluxations. After each adjustment the patient reported a decrease in her pain.
After 13 weeks of chiropractic care, it was reported that the woman’s pain had significantly decreased and was now only a 2 out of 10. Additionally, her posture had improved as had her spinal range of motion. A week later, the patient suffered a fall which caused a minimal increase in her symptoms. Care was continued and she continued to improve in most areas. She delivered a seven pound girl vaginally with minimal assistance.
The complexity of this case, due to the patient’s spinal surgery history, contributed to variations in her symptoms as care was given. Overall, the quality of her life was improved and she was able to deliver a healthy baby. In their conclusion, the study authors summed up this unusual case by stating, “This case report provides supporting evidence on the effectiveness of chiropractic care throughout pregnancy and in particular, pregnant women with surgical rods to address scoliosis.”