So something happened. You lifted something with your back, not your legs, you sneezed, you reached for something that fell, or you just woke up and you are experiencing back pain with radiating symptoms to you arms or legs. This could be numbness, tingling, deep aching, or even weakness. What’s next? You probably go to your PCP and get some anti-inflammatories, XRAY’s and maybe a MRI. Then with the findings you are told you have a disc bulge, herniation, protrusion, or extrusion. Panic mode sets in because all you can think of is that you have a spinal injury and surgery is the only answer.
I talk to people daily in this scenario and tell them the same thing. Lets take our foot off of the gas and just relax for a second. People live and die by MRI’s of their spine. The truth of the matter is, if we took 10 random people off of the street that were not experiencing any back pain whatsoever, probably half of them would have some type of disc injury and not have any symptoms. You go through life running, jumping, falling, and lifting, and those disc are absorbing all the shock through your spine. People get disc injuries or disc pain all of the time and just brush it off as a little ache that eventually goes away. At some point this pain will linger, and you might also get the radiating symptoms stated above and that is when you get checked out. Sometimes you never know you have anything wrong.
Let’s go ahead and preface this. I am not saying spinal surgery is not necessary in all cases. There are times and places for people to have surgical repairs, but with disc injuries it seems like it is used as a first option so often, and once some of these procedures are performed there is no going back. Also surgery, as with any type of treatment, is not 100% guaranteed to work. So in my opinion let’s be more conservative, and see if we can treat the injury with non-invasive care, then if they symptoms persist, talk about other options.
SPINAL DECOMPRESSION: Initially for any disc injury we need to take pressure off of the spine. With any case, the disc will lose some of its height. This not only irritates the area, but also makes the foramen, the holes where your nerves come out of, smaller making it easier to irritate the nerves causing radiating pain. With spinal decompression, we place you on a table that gently distracts the spine at gradually increasing and decreasing weights. By doing this at the specific angle of the spine we can rehydrate the disc, get better blood flow, take pressure off nerves and hopefully get the disc to go back to its original height. This is typically non-painful and work wonders for people with disc symptoms.
CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS: Next it is very important to make sure that the vertebrae in that area are in the correct alignment and moving properly. Therefore when the patient is ready, adjustments can be performed so that all structures are moving and functioning properly.
CORE STRENGTHENING: Now here is arguably the most important part and often the most neglected. If we have done all this work to correct the problem, lets now make sure it stays corrected. The goal of Omnis Rehab is to take care of the issue, but also treat the what may have caused it in the first place. Your core is not only the muscles in front, your abs Your core is actually a very complex system of muscles that intertwine all around your back, sides and front that keep you stable and protected. They basically form a natural back brace for your body.
Now the system above just highlights a treatment plan for a disc injury. There are also other modalities that we can use such as laser treatment that can speed up the process. The main thing to take away is this: Please do not live and die by your MRI findings. There are often multiple treatments for any injury. You just have to find what works best for you. Also surgery can be great, but it is often permanent if it works or not. I often tell people to try our treatment plan first. We will not hurt anything any further and in MANY cases we can return you to full function. Please give us a call if you have any questions or would like to talk with me about possible treatment options.
Dr. Brady DeClerk, D.C., CF-L1
Omnis Rehab: Joint and Performance Center