Romo Chiropractic Blog

Posts for tag: Decompression

According to the Mayo Clinic, "back surgery is needed in only a small percentage of cases. Most back problems can be taken care of with nonsurgical treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medication, ice, heat, gentle massage and physical therapy." Accurate on face value, but missing an important piece of the puzzle. Yes, while back pain is rampant, surgery is rarely required; even the Mayo Clinic admits that while "back pain is extremely common ... surgery often fails to relieve it." However, chiropractic is glaringly absent from the nonsurgical recommendations, despite ample research evidence supporting chiropractic care for back pain and increasing reliance on chiropractic as a first-line treatment option.

So, what determines whether a patient undergoes spinal surgery? A recent study attempted to answer that very question and came up with several predictive variables, perhaps the most interesting of which is the type of health care provider – namely a surgeon or a doctor of chiropractic – the back pain patient sees first. The study authors, who note that "there is little evidence spine surgery is associated with improved population outcomes, yet surgery rates have increased dramatically since the 1990s," found that Washington state workers with an occupational back injury who visited a surgeon (orthopedic, neuro or general) first were significantly more likely to receive spine surgery within three years (42.7 percent of workers) than workers whose first visit was to a doctor of chiropractic (only 1.5 percent of workers). This association held true even when controlling for injury severity and other measures.

back surgery

Of the 174 workers (9.2 percent of the subject population) who had a surgery during the three-year time frame, the vast majority were decompression procedures (78.7 percent), with 3.4 percent undergoing fusion without decompression and 17.8 percent undergoing both on the same day.

For more insights into the perils of spine surgery, read "Back Surgery: Too Many, Too Costly and Too Ineffective" by clicking here.

Truckers and others who drive for a living report more back problems than those working in any other occupation. Scientists have theorized that constant, long-term "whole-body vibration" caused by driving accelerates degeneration and herniation of the body's 23 spinal discs, leading to lower-back pain and disability.

Researchers compared 45 pairs of identical male twins who had distinctly different driving patterns throughout their lives, in which one twin had spent a lot of time driving occupationally, and the other had not. The amount of spinal disc degeneration each man suffered was determined based on readings from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Twins were studied because in the absence of outside factors that affect spinal degeneration, a set of twins' spines should appear fairly similar at any given point in time.

Driving time did not appear to affect spinal disc degeneration; men who drove multiple hours daily for many years were no more likely to have significant disc degeneration than their twins who did not. No other spinal disorders appeared more common in professional drivers, either, in this study appearing in The Lancet.

This is good news if you drive an 18-wheeler: Your spine may not suffer permanent damage from long hours on the road. Yet the fact remains that back pain is common in drivers. Whether the pain is caused by muscle fatigue or damage, nerve changes at the cellular level or some other factor, your doctor of chiropractic can help prevent it.

Reference:

Battié MC, Videman T, et al. Occupational driving and lumbar disc degeneration: A case-control study. The Lancet 2002:360(9343), pp. 1369-1374.

The New Way to Treat Herniated Discs Without Surgery

To Your Health February, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 02)

By Dr. James D. Edwards
If you're suffering from a herniated disc and chiropractic adjustments/therapy have not yielded sufficient benefit, you should ask your doctor if you might be a candidate for spinal decompression therapy.

What is spinal decompression therapy?Spinal Decompression of  Modesto

It's a nonsurgical, traction-based treatment for herniated or bulging discs in the neck and low back. Anyone who has back, neck, arm or leg pain caused by a degenerated or damaged disc may be helped by spinal decompression therapy. Specific conditions that may be helped by this therapeutic procedure include herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, sciatica, facet syndrome, spondylosis or even failed spinal surgery.

Many patients, some with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-documented disc herniations, have achieved "good" to "excellent" results after spinal decompression therapy.

The computerized traction head on the decompression table or machine is the key to the therapy's effectiveness. The preprogrammed patterns for ramping up and down the amount of axial distraction eliminate muscle guarding and permit decompression to occur at the disc level. This creates a negative pressure within the disc, allowing the protruded or herniated portion to be pulled back within the normal confines of the disc, which permits healing to occur.

Your specific treatment plan will be determined by the doctor after your examination. Based on research and my clinical experience, the best results are achieved with 20 sessions over a six-week period. To reduce inflammation and assist the healing process, supporting structures sometimes are treated with passive therapies (ice/heat/muscle stimulation), chiropractic adjustments (when indicated) and/or active rehabilitation in order to strengthen the spinal musculature.

There are many spinal decompression systems in use today, most of which work equally well. The cost for 20 sessions can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. While this may seem like a lot, it is very reasonable, considering the cost and potential adverse outcomes associated with spine surgery.

Spinal decompression therapy has saved many people from spinal surgery. If you are suffering from a degenerated or herniated disc, I encourage you to explore safe and effective spinal decompression therapy before risking surgery. The rationale for treating a herniated disc without resorting to surgery has research support on its side: According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surgery is no more effective than non-invasive treatments, including chiropractic care, for patients with lumbar disc herniation causing sciatica.

Ask your doctor for more information about spinal decompression and if you might be a candidate. If your doctor does not yet offer spinal decompression therapy, they can help refer you to someone who does.

What Does It Mean?

Not familiar with some of the terminology in this article? Don't worry: Here's a brief explanation of what these terms mean in relation to your spine.
Anulus Fibrosus: The tough outer ring of a vertebral disc; it encases the nucleus pulposus (see description below) within the disc.

Facet Syndrome: An irritation of one or more of the joints on the back of the spinal vertebrae, which comprise the spinal column.

Herniated Disc needs Spinal DecompressionHerniated Disc: Displacement of the center of a vertebral disc through a crack in the outer layer. Disc herniation can put pressure on spinal nerves and cause pain.

Muscle Guarding: Muscle spasming, often in response to a painful stimulus.

Nucleus Pulposus: A gel-like substance within each intervertebral disc, surrounded by the anulus fibrosus.

Sciatica: Pain in the lower back, buttocks, hips, or adjacent anatomical structures, frequently attributable to spinal dysfunction.

Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spine at one or more of three locations: in the center of the spine, where nerves branch from the spine, or in the space between vertebrae. This puts pressure on spinal nerves and can cause pain.

Spondylosis: Otherwise known as spinal arthritis, spondylosis is a degenerative condition in which spinal discs weaken, particularly with age.

James D. Edwards, DC, a graduate of Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Mo, has been in practice for more than 30 years.