I’m 22 weeks pregnant and starting to worry about how I will walk, work, and mother my toddler as my bump grows. I’ve experienced sciatica and back pain before, but not during my first pregnancy – so feeling those familiar shooting pains as I moved into my second trimester was quite literally a pain in the buttocks.
The symptoms were a horrible mix of sharp nerve pain (accentuated when I tried to stand on one leg to get dressed, change direction, or climb stairs) and dull lower back pain that made sitting down for any length of time quite unbearable. Not the easiest symptoms when you are on your feet all morning with an energetic 18-month old and at your desk all afternoon attempting to work.
My obstetrician recommended consulting an osteopath that specialised in pregnancy care – so at the recommendation of a friend, I contacted the Osteopathic Health Centre for an appointment with Lauren Whalen. I was pleasantly surprised that I could still visit an osteopath during pregnancy, as I had feared the manipulation of muscles and joints around my back and pelvis might be harmful to the baby. On meeting Lauren, however, any fears instantly disappeared.
The clinic is based on Al Wasl Road between Thanya Road and Al Manara Road, opposite the new J3 Mall. I parked right outside and made my way into the clinic, waiting upstairs for my appointment. The first step to any consultation is to discuss the background and symptoms – and after a warm greeting from Lauren, we sat down for a chat. Whilst we discussed the history of the sciatica and touched on my first pregnancy, Lauren bashed it all out onto my file on the computer.
Next came the really interesting bit. After asking me to strip down to my underwear and stand facing away from her, Lauren took a quick look at my posture and spine. Within seconds – literally, one or two seconds – she told me that my back appeared twisted by the muscles around my left hip and pelvis, which were so tight they were pulling everything in the wrong direction. This left hip area was exactly where I had been experiencing sciatica. Secondly, she could see that my right shoulder was also very tense and lifting higher than the other. She asked if this was the arm I used for my mouse when I worked on my computer – correct again. I had always experienced tenseness and pain in that area, but had no idea this could be contributing to the pain I was feeling.
After walking around the room so she could confirm her initial assessment, Lauren asked me to lie down on a treatment bed on my side and she began intensive soft tissue massage in the area that the muscle was tight. It was a little uncomfortable at times, in the same way an exuberant spa massage can sometimes be uncomfortable – but I knew it was doing a good job so I was more than happy for her to get on with it. After the massage, Lauren pulled my legs in different directions to further stretch and loosen the muscles.
Having visited an osteopath a few years ago, I knew that Lauren would probably need to ‘reset’ a few vertebrae in my back – and soon enough, she warned me that she needed to do just that. She manipulated my spine with a few sharp movements and I heard the click as my back moved back into place. It didn’t hurt in the slightest, but the dramatic sound may have worried me if she hadn’t reassured me that it wouldn’t harm the baby in any way beforehand.
After moving to my shoulder area for more massage and a few clicks of my neck, it was time to climb down from the bed. Lauren asked me to walk around the room and feel whether the sciatica had eased – and I was delighted to discover that I was pain-free for the first time in weeks. I felt taller and lighter as I walked. I just felt better.
After leaving the clinic, Lauren promised to email me across some exercises to try at home if the sciatica symptoms started to return – and whilst I have nearly been pain-free since the appointment, I have had the odd niggle and put the stretches into action. Catching the pain early has made a huge difference and I have had no difficulty walking since the appointment.
I’m not naïve enough to believe I am completely cured, but I feel very reassured that the clinic exists if the pain returns later in the pregnancy. Lauren is a genius with her hands and I highly recommend her services.
A general appointment with the Osteopathic Health Centre costs Dhs400 per hour.
Find out more at www.osteopathydubai.com or by calling 04 348 7366.