Maria is a university student who has a casual job at the local grocery store. During one shift, another staff member was away sick and Maria was asked to help out in the stock room. Maria was organising stock when she lifted a box, without noticing the warning on the box. As she bent over to put the box down, she immediately felt a ‘pop’ in her back and pain running down her left leg.
For three months since her injury, Maria has had pain down her left leg. As the symptoms increase through the day, she finds it difficult to stand while at work and so she had to stop accepting shifts. Her symptoms also make it difficult to walk around the university campus where she studies.
Maria visits her GP for advice. Her GP provides her with a Work Cover certificate and helps her to lodge a workers’ compensation claim. She also refers Maria for physiotherapy.
Maria attends regular physiotherapy sessions. However, Maria’s physiotherapist recommends to her GP that Maria be reviewed by a spine surgeon as her leg symptoms are persisting and preventing Maria’s return to work.
Maria returns to her GP, who gives her a specialist referral.
Gold Coast Spine gets approval from the workers’ compensation insurer for Maria to have the MRI scan and EMG.
Maria attends her first appointment with Dr Scott-Young. He listens to the history of her condition, examines Maria and reviews her radiology. Maria noted her symptoms began to improve prior to her appointment. Dr Scott-Young discusses his thoughts about Maria’s symptoms, answers her questions and discusses a treatment plan with her.
Dr Scott-Young tells Maria that she has a L4-5 disc prolapse. He explains her condition doesn’t need surgical intervention and that the natural history of her condition is good. He explains that simple measures like weight loss and increasing her fitness is the best medicine. Dr Scott-Young stresses that Maria needs a lifelong commitment to her physical well being to ensure that her spine stays strong. He recommends a short physiotherapist-guided rehabilitation programme with the goal of Maria later taking charge of her own recovery from the injury.
At the end of the appointment, Maria is given a referral to a physiotherapist who will work with her to achieve her goals.
A detailed letter outlining the surgeon’s recommendations goes to Maria’s GP.
Maria begins her treatment plan by attending the physiotherapy sessions. Her physiotherapist gives her an exercise program she can do at home and resources she can access to learn more about healthy eating plans.
Maria also returns to work on a graduated program, involving light duties and reduced hours.
Maria completes her physiotherapy sessions and continues her exercise and healthy eating plan. She notices an improvement in her symptoms and finds it much easier to focus on her studies. Her leg pain goes away and she finds her back only aches now and then when she’s tired.
Maria returns to full time studies at university and resumes her usual duties at her casual job.