low back pain

Have you seen my shoes, Dad?

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I don’t know about you, but my kids could never find things…. ‘Where are my shoes, Dad’? They would yell, as they stormed around slamming doors. ‘Wherever you left them’ was my standard answer, of course! (They were always under the sofa, btw….)

When I was doing my diagnostic ultrasound training, I would sometimes struggle to find one of the kidneys with the ultrasound scanner, but sometimes a kidney really isn’t there, because the patient only has one kidney. One of the problems with this is that the single kidney that is present is often a bit quirky: large, situated somewhere weird, and imperfectly constructed. This single kidney may be more prone to infection, and an infection of the kidney will often create low back pain, which is sometimes what brought the patient in to see us in the first place!

Patients with only one kidney are more prone to developing high blood pressure, so this will need to be monitored. Your kidneys are very important, so sometimes patients with one kidney are told to avoid contact sports, in case they damage their one kidney.

Statistically, Abingdon will have about 31 people who only have one kidney!

A 65yr-old lady with a funny walk….

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Late last autumn, the GF found an injured hedgehog in her garden. It was missing its left back leg.The reason for this wasn’t clear: a rat bite maybe, or injured by a strimmer in someone’s garden, or perhaps it had got tangled in some plastic netting and got its leg trapped? It was never clear what had happened. Anyway the leg was infected, and stinking (yuk)! This hog was not going to last the winter. So she put the hog in the straw and newspaper-filled rabbit run with water and some food with some antibiotic in it. She’s a vet btw. She kept the little hog fed through the winter, and gradually the wound healed. Of course, the leg didn’t regrow…. so now this was a three-legged hedgehog. The other day it was time to release the hog back into the wild. You can see the hog in the video, scuttling off with a very lop-sided gait, thanks to the missing leg.

In the clinic we see all sorts of lop-sidedness, and you can see this when you are out and about in town watching people go about their business. Look at the lady in the above video swaying from side to side as she walks. This is a typical gait of someone who has wear and tear in both of their hips. She probably needs both of her hips replacing, really. The side to side sway put a lot of load onto the spine and pelvis, quite commonly resulting in the low back pain that brings people in to see us in the clinic. It’s great to see how improving flexibility and strength helps people to function with less pain and continue to do the things that they like to do.

Hopefully our hop-along hedgehog will continue to explore the back gardens of the neighbourhood. We haven’t seen him back in the garden yet, but there are regular visits by other hogs. For more information about how to make your garden more hedgehog friendly, visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s website. Our hedgehogs need all the help that they can get!

An uncommon cause of low back pain in an older man

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I had to scan one of the family guinea-pigs (Jill) the other day (my girlfriend is a vet). This poor little pig was weeing a lot, and there was blood in her urine. It seems that she was in pain too, as she didn’t like to be handled too much. My girlfriend suspected that Jill had a bladder stone, and indeed, we could see a bladder stone on her ultrasound scan (you can see it in the video).

Bladder stones do occur in humans, more commonly when we are dehydrated, or if a stone migrates down into the bladder from the kidney. Bladder stones can also form if the bladder does not empty very well, something that happens in older men, as their prostate enlarges. Bladder stones can cause low back pain. Low back pain has many different causes, of which this is only one, and is probably the most common reason for patients to consult a chiropractor. Low back pain that has a mechanical origin will often respond well to physical treatments. Back pain that is caused by a bladder stone is likely to be persistent, however.

In this video there are a couple of tips that you might find helpful in preventing bladder stones from forming. ‘Point of care ultrasound scanning’ (POCUS) is really helpful in picking up this type of condition.

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