Recently I was contacted by an acquaintance who wanted a second opinion on whether he should have $10,000 of stem cell therapy for his back pain. The recommendation for treatment sounded rather far fetched, so I started to take a case history…
The case looked like this. A 50 yo male, with scoliosis (a S-shaped curve in the spine) and suffering from lower back / buttock pain, worsening when playing golf, and not relieved from massage or chiropractic treatments. X-rays had only confirmed the scoliosis, but no disc or vertebrae damage.
Now to my knowledge, stem cell therapy hasn’t been shown to help musculoskeletal pain syndromes, and it would certainly seem inappropriate to try it without determining the cause of pain, which no one seemed to have done. Scoliosis in itself doesn’t cause pain unless severe. The chiropractic report stated no chiropractic adjustments were required, so bone mis-alignment could be ruled out.
I suggested he let our physio take a look at the soft tissue, the muscles, to see whether that could be the cause. Although he’d taken some massages, no one had looked to identify what we suspected of causing the problem. After 10 minutes massaging we were able to identify the pain, re-create it, and then work to loosen up the muscle that was causing it. In the end it was a very basic problem, an over-tight piriformis muscle, that was compressing nearby nerves which caused a radiating pain. The piriformis runs from the front of the sacrum to the top rear of the femur (thighbone), and is very often over tight. Its role is to rotate the leg outwards within the hip socket, so a golf swing could certainly aggravate it. It’s easily kept flexible with massage and a few simple stretches.
The condition improved substantially after the massage, our clients saved 10,000 USD, and we have a very happy, regular client coming in for preventative treatment before his golf games!