Businesswoman and smallholder Chantal Cooke, 52, has had persistent back pain from the age of 19. Finally, she saw someone who got to the root of her problem and now finally, 30 years later, she is free from the limitations that have plagued her since her late teens.

At 19, Chantal was working behind the bar at her local gym and made the most of her free gym membership. During one workout, she sustained an injury. At the time, she thought it was a short-term acute problem, but she has had issues with her back ever since, not sure whether it was linked to that initial injury or simply one of those things.

Most of the time, Chantal had low level pain, which was manageable, but periodically something would trigger it – she didn’t know what – and the pain would become very acute.

“When the acute pain came on, it was very marked and very sudden,” says Chantal. “Sometimes, I couldn’t stand up straight because of the pain, other times, I was twisted and at others I couldn’t stand up at all, as I simply didn’t have the stability – felt as though I was crumpling.

“On one occasion, I was sitting in a chair and went to pick something up from the floor. Suddenly, I couldn’t move because of the pain and had to be helped from the chair. Another time, I simply swung my leg over to get off my bicycle and the pain came on so suddenly that I and the bike ended up on the floor.”

Understandably, this made Chantal very nervous about doing certain things. As an active woman, who owns and runs a smallholding and loves riding, she was always plagued by the worry that her back could go at any time. She avoided a lot of activities, as she was mindful about what might happen. “At one point, I wanted to take up running and my osteopath told me I would be “bonkers” to do so. I still gave it a try, but he was right!” This really went against Chantal’s usual gung-ho nature, but she felt she needed to be careful.

Over the years, she tried many things to ease her pain: She saw osteopaths and physiotherapists, she had a personal trainer and went for massages. All of these things helped the pain but there was no overall improvement in her condition.

“I was fed up,” she says. “Because it was intermittent, it limited everything I did, as I never knew when it would come on. And, because of the crumpling that often occurred, it was very restrictive, as I was always considering what might happen in any given situation if it were to come on.

“It irritated me that, after 30 years, and having spent so much time and money trying to sort it out, seeing various health and fitness professionals, that it was not solved. I was also worried about the future. If it was this bad when I was in my 50s, what would it be like when I hit my 60s. I have animals that I am responsible for and I need to be able to look after them.”

Undaunted by the fact that previous treatments had helped but not sorted her problem, Chantal read some articles about both Spinex Disc Clinic and IDD Therapy treatment. What caught her attention is that they claimed to deal with unresolved back pain, which was exactly what hers was.

So, Chantal booked herself an appointment at Spinex in London and went along for her first consultation.  She saw experienced Osteopath Tyler Hands and was impressed immediately. As she described her problems, he would ask whether she was experiencing certain other symptoms, to which she was saying “yes, yes”. He obviously already had an idea of what the problem was but needed an MRI scan to check that he was right and also to ensure there were no contraindications for treatment.

A few days after the scan Chantal had another appointment with Tyler and he confirmed that the problem was – indeed – the gym injury she had sustained at 19. It had affected the spine at two levels L4L5 and L5S1. This meant that the spine was moving more than it should, so the “sponge-like” disc between the vertebrae was squashed unevenly and the bone was rubbing in some places. The latter, in turn, had produced a bony outgrowth. In all, there was damage to the bone and not enough cushioning which explained why the pain was intermittent; because it simply caught when her back was at the wrong angle.

“Tyler said that it was absolutely consistent with my injury in the gym. Thirty years later, I finally found out what was wrong with my back”, says Chantal.

Next Tyler discussed a treatment plan and explained that they couldn’t reverse the damage of the worn bone and the bony outgrowth, but could reduce the pain and acute outbreaks and stop it getting any worse, which it had been doing for all that time. The treatment was to involve manual therapy, massage and loosening and IDD Therapy.

IDD (Intervertebral Differential Dynamics) is a computer-controlled treatment designed to help decompress the specific spinal segment that causes the pain.  It’s non-invasive and patients lie on an Accu Spina machine to which they are connected with a pelvic and a chest harness.  The machine applies a gentle pulling force at a precise angle to take pressure off the targeted disc and to gently mobilise the joint and surrounding muscles. In Chantal’s case the combination aimed to allow the body’s natural healing mechanisms to operate efficiently by freeing up restrictions in the spinal segments and to encourage normal movement.

Chantal says: “IDD was not uncomfortable or unpleasant in the least. In fact, I loved the first treatment! I got off the table feeling taller and more upright, almost like my body was lighter, and there was an immediate improvement in how I felt generally.”

To date, Chantal has had six IDD treatments. A course of up to twenty treatments are usually recommended but, with Covid-19, it had to stop at that point. However, she has already felt the vast improvements since that first visit to the Spinex Clinic:

“I was seeing improvement really quickly. Shortly after starting treatment, I was lugging 40 kilos of pig food round every morning for the rescue pigs I was taking care of at the time. Normally, carrying that kind of weight and the awkward positions needed to distribute the food to the animals would have been impossible. I was honestly expecting problems and was so pleased not to have any!

“Tyler had given me stretches to do each morning and I have been doing those. The combination of the IDD Therapy and stretches showed a massive improvement. I managed to self-heal with stretches over the lockdown period.”

Now, ten months after Chantal started treatment, during five of which she received no treatment due to lockdown, her back is considerably better. Despite lugging many kilos of food around and a (small) fall from a horse, she has had no problems with her back, which is highly unusual.

Looking ahead, Chantal is due to have more IDD Therapy and giving her back as much of a chance as possible whilst looking forward to welcoming seven more rescue pigs to her smallholding as soon as the relaxing of lockdown allows.

About IDD Therapy

IDD Therapy is the fastest growing non-surgical spinal treatment for intervertebral discs with over 1,000 clinics worldwide and a network of clinics across the UK.

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