Student Chiropractor's Timely Intervention | AECC University College

Student Chiropractor’s Timely Intervention

Back AECC School of Chiropractic - - 4 minute read.

Christopher Gregory is in his placement year at AECC University College. Now reaching the end of his four-year Master of Chiropractic degree, this summer, he will qualify as a registered Chiropractor. Like his fellow students, Christopher works in the AECC Chiropractic Clinic, where he helps a range of patients with musculoskeletal complaints, such as joint pain, headaches, sciatica, back pain, and more.

One of Christopher’s patients, Susan, is 76. Susan suffers from chronic low back pain complicated by early diabetic neuropathy. Despite her health challenges, Susan leads an active lifestyle and particularly enjoys walking her dogs. Since coming to the Chiropractic Clinic, Susan has been able to walk over two miles a day.

However, during a routine visit on the 16th August, Susan explained that recently her symptoms had been worsening.

Christopher checked through Susan’s symptoms to see what he could find. It was here that Susan went into more detail.

“I had pain all down both of my legs; it was never like that before.”

“I occasionally get numbness in my toes, but this time, it was much worse.”

Recognising the gravity of Susan’s symptoms, Christopher suspected Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES), a rare and severe spinal condition. CES compresses all nerves in the lower back suddenly, manifesting as sciatica, weakness, or numbness in both legs. It can also lead to the permanent loss of bladder and bowel function, having a devastating effect on an individual. He decided to check with his Tutor to be completely sure of his diagnosis.

“I wanted a second opinion to see if I could prove my diagnosis. The results didn’t look good.”

Back in the consultation room, the tutor confirmed Christopher’s diagnosis, and concluded that the case needed to be escalated. Due to the seriousness of the situation they decided to call in Dr. Neil Langridge, Director of Clinical and Rehabilitation Services who has a background as a Consultant Physiotherapist in the NHS, to explain things to Susan and her son who was waiting downstairs.

In the waiting room, they had the task of telling Susan’s son that there was only one course of action: he needed to take his mother to the hospital immediately. Not exactly what you might expect at a routine chiropractic appointment.

“I know it’s not what you might expect to hear, and it’s rare that this would happen, but it’s important Susan is taken to the hospital as soon as possible,” Dr. Langridge stressed.

He issued a referral explaining the diagnosis, and Susan’s son immediately took his mother to the hospital to seek further help.

At the hospital, Susan was given an emergency MRI scan. After which, two surgeons confirmed she did indeed have CES and would be referred to a consultant as soon as possible.

“They told me this was extremely serious, and that there was a risk that I might end up paraplegic.”

Susan was also told that in the lead-up to her appointment, she had to be very careful to limit her mobility.

“It was very hard. I was really only allowed to get up to wash or go to the toilet; otherwise, I was to remain lying down as much as I could. But I did as I was told—the last thing I would wish for is for my son to have to care for his paraplegic mother.”

On the 4th October, Susan was able to see the consultant who arranged for Susan to have decompressive surgery the following month.

All through this time, Susan followed the guidance and limited her movement in preparation for surgery. It was a tough few months, but she remained strong. On the 4th December, Susan finally had the operation, which turned out to be a complete success.

“It was a tough time, especially with Christmas, which was a bit weird. I couldn’t really do much,” Susan recalls.

Since surgery, Susan has been taking things easy and is slowly getting back to where she was. “I’m even walking the doggies again,” she says with a smile.

Susan expresses her gratitude to AECC University College and remains optimistic about her recovery;

“I owe my life to AECC and Christopher. I make a point of telling people; it was a Chiropractor who referred me. I really have a lot to be thankful for.

“Once I regain my strength, I will book in with Christopher to get back on track with my neuropathy.”

Dr. Neil Langridge, reflecting on Susan’s journey, commends Christopher’s timely intervention:

“Christopher caught this at the right time and did everything right to help. Had Susan not gone to the hospital in a timely manner, the ramifications could have been huge. It’s a fantastic show of the patient-centred approach taught here at AECC University College that ultimately start with patient safety.”

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