Case Study: The Lady With Low Back Pain Who Couldn’t Get Up From The Floor

“My back hurts so much that I can’t get up from the floor!”

So when I was working in one of the Kaiser hospitals, I had a patient who came in to see me for her debilitating low back pain. I was a new provider at the time and I was just getting to know the staff and the patients. However, the way that the front administration looked at me when they told me know they put her on my schedule, I knew that this was a “special” case.

She had low back pain. Her chart showed that she was on multiple medications to help with her pain and has tried physical therapy at the Kaiser system many times and never got relief. Throughout the allotted 45 minute physical therapy evaluation, she kept talking about how it was so hard for her to come up from the floor. So I said, “Show me.”

She proceeded to sit on to the floor using the furniture in the examination room for support. And then when she looked like she was settled, I asked for her to show me how she would get up from there. She was unable to do it by herself. We tried many strategies that she could use to help get up from the floor. It was already 60 minutes, which meant that I was behind schedule and the next patient was waiting patiently for 15 minutes into their 30 minute appointment. Which meant that everyone else on my schedule for the rest of the day was pushed back 15 minutes.

I even tried facilitating her movements to assist with weight bearing through her hands and feet but nothing was working. I also tried giving her some assistance from her pelvis and she was tremendously heavy for such a thin older lady. She was also an emotional wreck. Her cries could be heard in the hallway, even with the door closed.

I was so late by that point that a member from the front administration knocked on the door to tell me that the next patient was waiting and to make sure that I was okay.

Then my patient who was still sitting on the floor, realizing how much time had gone by, saw how far I was willing to go to help her. I was even sitting on the floor with her. Then as if Jesus told her to rise and repent of her sins, she just stood up by herself and then walked out the door. It was as if she didn’t have any low back pain to begin with. It was also like she got called out on her behavior.

A couple visits later, I gained her trust and rapport. And then she disclosed to me that her daughter had a terrible relationship with her and so the daughter would not talk to her. She was completely devastated.

To be honest, I did not look forward to seeing her name on my schedule. Her case was a lot of work and required a lot of emotional baggage. The following visit after she shared her situation with her daughter, her pain levels miraculously reduced. And then she was discharged from PT the following visit. I guess she just needed to feel that she was supported.

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