J Chiropr Med. 2012 Sep;11(3):179-85. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2012.05.007. PMID: 23450067 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3437350
This study, originally titled “Chiropractic management of low back pain in a patient with a transfemoral amputation,” details the positive effects of trigger point therapy and chiropractic manipulation for a young patient with a prosthetic leg.
The purpose of this case report is to describe the chiropractic management of a patient with a unilateral transfemoral amputation and low back pain (LBP).
A 20-year-old woman with right transfemoral amputation and a right upper extremity amputation due to amniotic band syndrome had approximately 40 different prosthetic lower extremities in the prior 20 years. She presented for chiropractic care for LBP (5/10 numeric pain scale) that she experienced after receiving a new right prosthetic leg. The pain increased with walking, attempts to exercise, and lying supine. Physical evaluation revealed asymmetrical leg length (long right limb); restricted left ankle dorsiflexion; restricted lumbopelvic motion; and hypertonicity of the left triceps surae muscle complex as well as the gluteus maximus, quadratus lumborum, and erector spinae bilaterally. Gait examination revealed a right Trendelenberg gait as well as a pattern of left vaulting. The working diagnosis was sacroiliac joint dysfunction, with lumbar facet syndrome secondary to a leg length inequality causing alteration in gait.
INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME:
Chiropractic management included manipulative therapy to the lumbar spine and pelvis, trigger point therapy of hypertonic musculature, and strengthening of pelvic musculature. In addition, the patient’s prosthetist shortened her new prosthetic device. After 18 treatments, LBP severity was resolved (0/10); and there was an overall improvement with gait biomechanics.
This case illustrates the importance of considering leg length inequality in patients with amputations as a possible cause of lower back pain, and that proper management may include adjusting the length of the prosthetic device and strengthening of the hip flexors and abductors, in addition to trigger point therapy and chiropractic manipulation.