Posts for tag: Spinal Stenosis
Did you know that an estimated 75 to 85 percent of all Americans will experience some form of back pain during their lifetime? Most certainly low back pain can be quite debilitating and painful. Good news, most cases respond well with non-surgical treatment. However, it has been estimated that 50 percent of all patients who suffer from an episode of low back pain will have a recurrent episode within one year.
The costs associated with diagnostic procedures alone are estimated at $50 billion yearly. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. The personal costs are immeasurable from chronic pain alone, pain sometimes so great that it interferes with a healthy and satisfying lifestyle.
Also, it is recognized that most cases of back pain are mechanical in nature, and the pain is usually not caused by very serious conditions, such as cancer, fracture, infection, etc. The anatomy of the spine and the many conditions that negatively impact spinal health are complex. The following information provides a simplistic explanation of the causes for back pain:
SOME COMMON CAUSES OF LOW BACK PAIN
On many occasions you first feel back pain just after you lift a heavy object, move suddenly, sit in one position for a long time, sustain an injury or have been in an accident. Prior to that moment in time, there was often a pre-existing weakness, or loss of tissue integrity in your spinal structures.
The specific structures in your back responsible for your pain are difficult to determine in many cases. Whether identified or not, there are several possible sources of low back pain:
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Injury or overuse of muscles, ligaments, facet joints, and the sacroiliac joints.
- Muscle spasm (very tense muscles that remain contracted)
- Degeneration of the discs
- Poor alignment or fixations of the vertebrae
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Small fractures to the spine from osteoporosis
- Strain or tears to the muscles or ligaments supporting the back
- Spinal curvatures (like scoliosis or kyphosis), which may be inherited and seen in children or teens
Less Common Causes of Low Back Pain
- Ankylosing spondylitis, which is a form of joint inflammation (arthritis) that most often affects the spine
- Prostate Cancer
- Bacterial infection, in which bacteria are often carried to the spine through the bloodstream from an infection somewhere else in the body or from IV drug use. However, bacteria can also enter the spine directly during surgery or injection treatments, or as the result of injury. Back pain may also be the result of an infection in the bone (osteomyelitis) or in the spinal cord (most often in the material covering the spinal cord, called an epidural infection).
- Spinal tumors, or growths that develop on the bones and ligaments of the spine, on the spinal cord, or on nerve roots.
- Paget’s disease, which causes abnormal bone growth most often affecting the pelvis, spine, skull, chest, and legs.
- Scheuermann’s disease, in which one or more of the bones of the spine (vertebrae) develop wedge-shaped deformities. This causes curvature of the spine (rounding of the back, or kyphosis), most commonly in the chest region.
You are at particular risk for low back pain if you:
- Work in construction or another job requiring heavy lifting, lots of bending and twisting, or whole body vibration
- Smoke, don’t exercise, and/or are overweight
- Are over age 30
- Are pregnant
- Have bad posture
- Have arthritis or osteoporosis
- Have a low pain threshold
The New Way to Treat Herniated Discs Without Surgery
By Dr. James D. Edwards
If you’re suffering from a herniated disc and chiropractic adjustmentsor 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?
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: 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.