Serving Midvale and the Salt Lake Area
by Dr. John Ratliff
Disc conditions can be frustrating to live with because episodes of pain come and go and you can't always figure out what you did wrong to cause such pain and disability. Maybe all you did was bend over to pick up a sock, or sneeze, or sit at a computer too long. Perhaps, you experienced a traumatic event like a car collision resulting in whiplash and disc herniation.
You live with the potential for flareups and there is always the fear that the pain will go ballistic. The pain is so severe you can't move, or the pain will radiate like a lightening bolt down your leg. I know because I lived with that kind of situation during the prime of my life starting at 16 years of age. I sympathize with all of you out there with similar conditions. I imagine there are hundreds of people in Midvale, Sandy, Murray, Salt lake, and the surrounding area that have suffered the same fate. I've spent that last 30 years finding the best ways available to fight the disc pain phenomena.
The Disc is usually the Culprit
Utah residents should be aware that most frequently back pain arises from the intervertebral disc which is the cartilagenous pad that sits between the vertebrae of your spine. Damage to the disc from the forces of gravity as we lift, bend, twist, sit, or perform many other seemingly mundane activities can occur gradually or quickly. Traumatic injury can also cause tearing of disc fibers or even herniation of the nucleus of the disc. In summary there are numerous types of events that can lead to disc herniation.
Abnormal spinal posture can be the sole cause of disc complaints or it can be a major factor leading up to a problem. If for example you have forward head posture where the ear is in front of the shoulder, looking at your profile (from the side), then the normal lordotic curve of the neck will be altered resulting in increased stress on discs, nerves, and joints. Eventually, the out come can be disc degeneration, pinched nerves, disc herniation, or arthritis.
Where to Go
Once you start to notice pain in the neck, upper back, or low back consider it a warning sign like having tooth pain. Instead of going to the dentist however, you should get yourself into a chiropractic biophysics doctor. The chiropractor is much more suited and trained to deal with musculo-skeletal conditions than most general medical doctors. According to a recent study in the December 2010 edition of The Spine Journal, one of the most frequently cited spine research journals in the world, acute low back pain patients demonstrated significantly greater improvement with chiropractic than with usual medical care and physical therapy. One of the most stunning findings from the study after 16 weeks, "78% of patients given narcotic pain meds were still taking them daily or as prescribed by their MDs.
The top of my evidence based treatment list is Chiropractic Biophysics. These doctors are highly trained to understand the significance of the spine's curves and how their alignment or misalignment contributes tremendously to the health of the intervetebral disc. Most disc conditions are caused by or influenced heavily by poor alignment of the spinal curves more so then dependent on just one misaligned vertebra being the culprit. An adjustment can help the disc but since it doesn't affect the entire curve, but only one vertebra and disc, it's benefits are usually short lived. However, if you return for a regimen of adjustments the benefits are more long lasting. Structural or spinal remodeling, performed by a doctor certified in Chiropractic Biophysics, can have dramatic and more long lasting effects.
The procedure involves careful analysis of the deficiencies of your particular posture and spinal curvature. Once the doctor has determined this, he will show you with x-rays digitized and analyzed on a computer screen with measurements and comparisons to the norm. You will know with all medical probability what is causing your condition. He may also compare his findings to an MRI study of your disc to determine the extent of the damage already sustained by the disc tissue.
Next, the doctor will help you determine a correction plan incorporating mirror image exercises, mirror image traction, and adjustments, designed to reshape your posture to function optimally under the stress of gravity and daily living activities. Your doctor will also use complementary therapies if needed such as massage therapy, core strengthening, laser, and decompression traction therapy.
I am all about results. I have had too many disappointments from my own experiences with a disc herniation. At Cottonwood Chiropractic we only refer to a neurosurgeon as the last resort. We would rather be able to document results with X-rays and a more lasting pain relief from a natural solution. You should be able to see the changes on x-ray and feel the difference in your own body's increased function and decreased pain levels within a reasonable time depending on the severity of the condition and how dedicated you are to the exercises and treatment.
Natural, safe chiropractic care is hands down a clear winner in the treatment of many disc conditions. If your serious about getting good results without the dangers of anti-inflamatory drugs, pain medications, or more invasive injections then you should consider Biophysics Chiropractic.
For Utah patients who come to Cottonwood Chiropractic, the treatment is tailored to meet the needs of the patient. It may involve simple adjustments or a regimen of traction, adjustments, mirror image exercise, and massage. It's always your choice. If you are a resident of Midvale, or the Salt Lake area, come in to see if your condition meets criteria to be treated.