spinal decompression

Everything You Need to Know About Spinal Decompression Therapy

Pain.

It serves a purpose.

It’s an internal warning device triggering avoidance reactions. This can prevent further serious injury. It is also a signal that something is wrong with a particular part of your body and that you need to get it checked out.

But when it persists, when pain continues even after the initial cause is fixed, it becomes problematic.

This is called chronic pain. And for many people who suffer chronic back pain, it is not pleasant to live with.

A relatively new set of therapies is advancing in the [ ] of pain associated with conditions involving the spine. It’s called spinal decompression therapy, and it’s revolutionizing how doctors treat back pain.

If you’re suffering from back pain, keep reading. This may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Relief.

Why is Back Pain So Common?

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) says that pain in the lower back is the number one cause of disability worldwide. In fact, the ACA estimates that at any given time, 31 million Americans experience lower back pain.

According to the American Spinal Decompression Association (ASDA), some of the most common causes of back pain include:

  1. Disc herniation
  2. Bulging discs
  3. Back injuries involving muscle, joint, or ligament strains
  4. Severe and prolonged muscle contractions and spasms
  5. Degenerative disc disease
  6. Vertebral misalignment
  7. Displacement or slippage of vertebrae called Spondylolisthesis
  8. Spinal arthritis often referred to as osteoarthritis
  9. Spinal stenosis: nerve pressure due to narrowing of the spinal canal
  10. Complications due to osteoporosis, such as vertebral fractures
  11. Spinal curvatures from inherited conditions such as scoliosis.

Lately, more pain sufferers are turning to spinal decompression therapy for relief. This procedure is performed two ways: surgically and nonsurgically.

Wondering if it’s right for you? Here we break both down into simple terms to help you decide.

Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression

A safe, nonsurgical option using relatively new technology.

Symptoms Treated

The nonsurgical approach to spinal decompression treats neck and low back pain issues. Some of the more common uses include:

  • relieving spinal nerve pressure caused by herniated discs
  • pain relief for persistent pain due to degenerative disc disease
  • treatment for people diagnosed with posterior facet syndrome (wearing of the spinal joints)
  • back, neck, or sciatica pain — pain, weakness, or tingling sensations extending down the legs

Procedures Used

The treatment uses FDA approved equipment and involves gentle manipulation of the spine. A motorized traction table, similar to those used by chiropractors and osteopaths, performs the movements.

A padded harness, attached to the lower part of the table, is strapped to a patient’s hips. The upper portion of the table stays fixed while the lower part pulls the harness, gently stretching the spine.

The decompression device is computer controlled. The doctor programs and guides the device. The machine applies the necessary forces in a precise and gradual series of stretches and decompressions.

A typical session averages 30-45 minutes. The recommended course of therapy for full effect is 20 to 30 sessions over a 4 to 6 week period.

Expected Outcome

As the word decompression implies, this treatment helps release pressure from the disks of the spine. The gel-like cushions are able to retract.

The result is twofold:

  1. Herniated or bulging discs no longer put pressure on spinal cord nerves, which is often a major cause of back pain.
  2. Discs that are no longer compressed can rehydrate, reoxygenate, and pull in nutrient-rich fluids. This strengthens and allows healing of the discs.

Many patients experience relief after just a few sessions. But to achieve the full benefit the entire course of treatment is important to complete.

Researchers agree that more studies and data are needed to evaluate the overall safety and effectiveness of nonsurgical spinal decompression. But the future of this revolutionary therapy is promising.

As with any treatment of this nature, there are certain conditions where the therapy is not recommended. This includes women who are pregnant, patients with fractures or tumors in the spine, people with spinal implants or advanced osteoporosis.

Surgical Spinal Decompression

Depending on the cause of back pain, a surgical procedure may be the only option to relieve spinal pressure. It often becomes necessary when other alternative measures don’t work.

Symptoms Treated

Surgery may help relieve symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the arms, legs or back from spinal cord pressure
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the extremities
  • Sciatica
  • Sacroiliac joint disorders
  • Compressed or pinched nerve roots
  • Bulging or ruptured discs
  • Discogenic back pain due to radial tears in the annulus (tough outer layer of discs)
  • Osteophytes or bone spurs
  • Pain and discomfort associated with degenerative disc disease.

These symptoms develop from a wide variety of causes. These include, but are not limited to, injury, poor posture, degenerative conditions, and aging.

Procedures Used

There are several common surgeries used for spinal decompression. These include:

Discectomy

Involves the removal of a portion of a herniated or ruptured disc to relieve nerve pressure

Laminectomy

A section of the bony arch of a vertebra is removed, increasing the spinal canal diameter. This procedure is typically performed on patients with spinal stenosis.

Foraminotomy

Also called laser spine surgery. This procedure removes bone spurs, disk herniations, or synovial cysts causing pinched nerves.

Osteophyte Removal

Extraction of excess bone growth or bone spurs. Both commonly develop when the spine becomes weakened due to degenerative disease or aging.

Corpectomy

A complex operation resulting in the complete removal of damaged discs as well as the bony vertebrae. The removed portions are often replaced with bone grafts, held together with titanium plates and screws.

Expected Outcome

Many of the above surgeries can be performed as minimally invasive procedures. In that case, recovery time is quicker than it is with surgery. Patients are often released the same day.

As with nonsurgical methods, the overall outcome of many of these procedures has shown to be effective for:

  • pain relief
  • increased mobility
  • return to normal function and abilities.

Ready for Relief?

If you’re tired of living with constant pain, it might be time to see if you’re a candidate for spinal decompression therapy.

We’ve created a simple checklist to help you decide. Simply read and answer the questions. If you answer “yes” to any of the statements, we offer a courtesy MRI review to help you decide your next steps.

Freedom from pain may be just a click away.

scoliosis surgery

What to Expect During Scoliosis Surgery Recovery

Are you at a point where you have considered scoliosis surgery as your only option for treatment? Well, you are not alone. According to statistics, 38,000 of about 6 million scoliosis patients usually end up in the hands of a surgeon.

Scoliosis surgery is usually a big deal, the more reason why very few people are advised to take that path. However, for the few who do, the surgical procedure has been proven to be successful with a success rate of 70%.

To help you with the process of recovery, we have compiled some of the most important things you should expect in the journey to full recovery. So read on to find out.

First, a Brief Walk Through Scoliosis Surgery

Scoliosis surgery is a treatment option provided to scoliosis patients who other forms of treatment such as bracing and observation have not worked for them.

Usually, before the patient goes through surgery, he/she is taken through a series of examinations by the medical doctor.

After investigations have been successfully completed, the surgery is done where the vertebrae are fused through a bone graft using metal rods and wires.

Most patients think that the fusion happens during surgery but rather, surgery provides the framework on which the fusion will take place. This fusion process usually takes approximately 6-12 months.

For this reason, scoliosis surgery patients are usually in need of utmost post-surgery care, so as to ensure full recovery from the surgery.

The Recovery Process

The First Few Days in Hospital

On average, patients spend four to seven days in the hospital after scoliosis surgery.

After surgery, you will wake up lying on your back. The doctor will then ask you questions such as whether you can move your legs and wiggle your toes. He/she asks these questions so as to assess whether there was any spinal damage during the operation.

Most patients start moving around a day or two after the scoliosis surgery. However, in a few cases, the patient can be considerably immobile for three to four days. This, however, largely depends on the age of the patient.

Handling Pain

One of the side effects of scoliosis surgery is regular bouts of sharp pain. In the hospital, this is usually handled using narcotics that the patient can intravenously introduce into his/her body whenever there is a pain.

The dosage is controlled via a controller operated by the patient. Simply pressing a button injects the drugs into the bloodstream, reducing the amount of pain.

Techniques for Moving Around

Scoliosis surgery leaves the spine fragile and quite inflexible. This means that you should avoid bending your spine at all cost.

Your physical therapist or nurse will advise you on a technique called “log roll”. This will be useful in the first few days in getting you in and out of bed.

In as much as the spine is fragile and inflexible, occasional movements are very important in the recovery process. This is because these slight movements regain the lost spinal flexibility while strengthening the back in the process.

What to Do, Once You Are at Home

Before you are discharged, your doctor must be satisfied that you can do the following:

1. You can get in and out of bed without help – you must have mastered the log roll technique

2. You must have shown improvement in walking

3. You should be able to eat solid foods

4. The incision wound should not be infected

Once the doctor discharges you, the number one concern now becomes your nutrition.

What You Should Eat

Scoliosis surgery patients are usually advised to eat food that strengthens the bones, since it hastens the bone fusion process at the spine.

Bone broth is the first, most effective meal you can have while recovering from a scoliosis surgery. Bone broth is usually made from boiling animal bones and connective tissues.

This creates soup rich in the amino acids proline and glycine, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium which strengthen bones.

Other foods such as gelatin and organ meat are also nutritious and advised for a patient recovering from surgery.

There is more doctor advice, however, that you need to adhere to in the first few weeks at home.

Things You Should Avoid in the First 14 Days at Home

The general advice from the doctor for the first 14 days at home can be summed up as no BLT. This means that the patient should not bend, lift or twist.

By restricting bending and twisting, the doctor only allows the patient to bend the hips and knees. The patient should not especially twist the back. This is where the “log rolling” technique comes in handy.

Touching on weights, a patient recovering from scoliosis surgery should not lift weights above 8 pounds. This is basically a gallon of milk.

So, why all these restrictions?

Breaking any of these rules can lead to an unstable fusion and healing of the spine, which may call for a correction scoliosis surgery.

From the Second Week and Beyond

When you are at home, you will still be using narcotics to reduce the severe bouts of pain that may come frequently. However, there is a need for balance.

Your doctor will advise you to use narcotics only when the pain is severe and you need some relief so as to concentrate on some other tasks. But once you get into the second week, much of this severe pain would have gone away.

The best advice at this point is to break away from narcotics and use weaker medication such as Acetaminophen.

Why should you relieve yourself from the use of narcotics?

Excessive use of narcotics by a scoliosis surgery patient can lead to addiction and other health complications.

Apart from the shift from narcotics, the second week and beyond comes with lesser restrictions. After the first follow-up appointment, which is usually done in the second week, the surgeon may permit you to go back to school or work, ride in a car or go out with friends.

From the sixth week, the doctor lifts most restrictions. This is after he conducts another assessment of the spine and the fusion process. However, some activities may be permitted later depending on the patient’s recovery from scoliosis surgery.

Full Recovery

Full recovery comes within a year for most patients. Sometimes, however, it may extend to two years. Once the patient has fully recovered, he/she can resume all activities he/she was used to.

Factors That Can Inhibit Recovery

If you want to fully recover from scoliosis surgery, then you should avoid smoking among other unhealthy habits. Smoking, for instance, inhibits the fusion process since nicotine is a bone toxin.

Wrapping Up

Scoliosis surgery can be a pleasing experience if you take the right steps during the recovery process. But before you face the knife, please consult a professional surgeon, and get the right advice.

pinched nerve

How to Relieve Pain From a Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve is caused by compression of a nerve or set of nerves. It can occur due to sleeping in the wrong position for a long period of time or may be the result of repetitive motions. Regardless of the reason for onset, it’s often at least mildly painful and can be debilitating depending on severity.

If you’re in so much pain that you can’t move, you probably need to see your doctor. Treatment usually relieves pain and other symptoms, but in some cases, pinched nerve damage cannot be reversed.

A pinched nerve is something you may never have to deal with. But if you do, you’ll want to know how to get rid of the pain fast.

Whether you pinched your nerve gardening, working or sleeping, we’re here to discuss ways that you can alleviate the mild pain you may be experiencing because of it. Keep reading to learn more.

Soothing a Pinched Nerve

Symptoms of a pinched nerve may include numbness or tingling, burning and the sensation of pins and needles. This can occur in various places throughout your body like the neck and back, elbows, legs, wrists, and fingers.

If you think you’re experiencing a pinched nerve, try some of these home remedies to alleviate symptoms:

Rest

Rest is imperative to healing a pinched nerve and is often the first thing doctors recommend.

It’s important to limit your activities even if you don’t feel tired. Avoid texting as this causes you to push your head forward which extends the muscles and nerves in your back and neck.

Try sleeping on your side or back and elevate your legs, especially for a pinched nerve in the lower back. You might also try using a neck brace to limit your movement.

Massage

While getting a massage is easier said than done, you can also perform mini massages on yourself.

If you can afford the time, energy and cost of a professional massage, by all means, it will help immensely. Massage therapists are trained and specialize in nerve pain reduction practices. They can also give you advice on which types of stretches will be best for your particular situation.

If you’d rather stay at home, give yourself a light massage surrounding the area where the pain is most intense. Apply moderate pressure and push and rub on the muscles to reduce inflammation and pressure.

Stretch

Light stretches can help relieve the pressure on your nerves and help to improve symptoms of pain.

It’s important to focus on light stretching, and don’t overdo it. Even a little pain or discomfort should cause you to ease up on your stretch.

Try laying down on the bed or the floor and extending your legs and arms and neck out carefully. Look for yoga poses that focus on nerve pain.

Adjust Posture

One of the main causes of nerve pain is due to bad posture. Even slight changes in your posture can make a difference in your pain levels.

Sit up straight and don’t lean forward. Make sure to keep your head in line with your spine. If you must remain seated, keep your hips at a ninety-degree angle and feet on the floor.

You also don’t want to be sitting in any type of twisted position: face forward, hips forward, feet forward.

Heat and Ice

Heat is best when you first begin experiencing pain. Apply heat to the affected area within 24 hours. This will help relax the muscles that might be tight around the nerve.

Heat also helps improve blood circulation to the affected nerve and helps the healing process.

After 24 hours and for quick relief, you can apply ice for 10-15 minutes at a time at one-hour intervals. Ice or a cold compress works as a numbing agent to the affected area and reduces swelling and inflammation.

OTC Pain Relievers

If you lack time for necessary rest or you’re waiting to see a doctor, you can also try over the counter pain relievers.

Make sure to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These include Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Follow the instructions carefully and call your doctor immediately if symptoms worsen or side effects occur. It might also be wise to ask your doctor if these medications are okay first as they may interact with other medications that you currently take.

Castor Oil

If you’d rather try to stick with more holistic remedies, you can try a castor oil pack. You can make your own with castor oil from any home health store and a small piece of wool flannel fabric.

Fold the flannel into quarters and saturate it with castor oil before placing it on the affected area. You can wrap it in plastic wrap and a thin towel to absorb excess oil and then put a heating pad on top. Wear this pack and rest for about an hour and repeat every 3-4 hours as necessary until your pain subsides.

Turmeric

Turmeric can help relieve the pain from inflammation surrounding your nerves. It’s also used and as an herbal pain reliever.

You can boil one teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk or almond milk. Add some cinnamon and sweeten with honey. Drink it once or twice a day until symptoms subside.

Epsom Salt

Epsom salt works as an anti-inflammatory agent that helps relax tight muscles which may be affecting your nerves. It’s also full of magnesium which is incredible for nerve pain and critical in helping the body heal.

Take a 15-20 minute Epsom salt bath to help the magnesium absorb into your body quickly. You can use one cup of Epsom salt and warm water. Warmer water will also help relieve the tension in your muscles.

Final Thoughts

The best thing you can do for a pinched nerve is to get plenty of rest. Your body needs time to replenish itself no matter which forms of therapy you use. Try resting in a position that feels comfortable and staying there for at least an hour at a time.

Rest assured, most cases of pinched nerves go away on their own. But you can contact your doctor if you’re experiencing extreme pain or losing sleep. Your doctor can recommend medication for nerve pain and suggest other measures that will help you feel better.

If you still have questions or you’d like to schedule a consultation, we’re here for you!

herniated lumbar disc

What to Know About Your Herniated Lumbar Disc

Hearing that you have a herniated lumbar disk can be terrifying if you don’t know what’s going on.

What is it? How did I get it, and how can I get rid of it? These are just a few of the questions that may be running through your head. Don’t worry; we have the answers.

Your spinal discs are kind of like the inserts in your shoes. They act as the shock absorbers of your spine and allow for movement while supporting your upper body.

That’s why it’s important to know what to do when something goes wrong. Here is what you need to know about your herniated lumbar disc.

What Is a Herniated Lumbar Disc?

Disc degeneration occurs naturally over time. The discs become shallower as we age, and the process can begin early in life.

Each disc has an outer ring and a gel-like interior. A herniated lumbar disc occurs when the inner layer ruptures through the outer ring. They are very common, and most people that have them and don’t even notice.

But if the herniated disc is up against a nerve it, may become extremely painful. You may have heard a herniated disc being called the following:

  • slipped disc
  • ruptured disc
  • bulging disc
  • pinched nerve
  • sciatica

A lot of names, but they all refer to a herniated disc. Pinched nerve and Sciatica specifically refer to the kind of pain that it causes.

What Caused It?

A herniated lumbar disc can occur at any time in life, but it most heavily affects people who are between the ages of 35 and 50.

Always remember to lift with your knees! A herniated disc can be caused by heavy lifting, sudden twisting, a tragic accident, or for absolutely no apparent reason. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor to discover the source of the problem.

Age, gender, smoking habits, obesity, and family history all play a role in getting herniated lumbar discs. So if you’re a chainsmoking, overweight male in your 40’s with a family history of herniated discs, I have some bad news for you.

What Are the Symptoms?

Pain is going to be the most obvious symptom. It is caused when the herniation presses against a nerve, and will generally only affect one side of the body.

This pain can occur in the following areas:

  • legs
  • lower back
  • buttock
  • thighs
  • calf
  • feet
  • toes

The pain can be excruciating and is described as searing, sharp, radiating, or piercing. However, it is usually not long lasting.

What Are My Options?

First, don’t panic. This is a very common condition that usually goes away on its own in about 6 weeks.

Your body will attack the herniation like it is a foreign entity. Additionally, water from the disc will be absorbed by the body. Both of these happenings will lead to the disc becoming smaller and less likely to hit a nerve.

Home Remedies

There are a few options for dealing with pain in the meantime. You’re going to want to apply ice for the first couple of days. After that, apply heat. You can also try alternating between ice and heat to see if that helps.

Bedrest is good for a couple of days, but after that stiffness sets in, and that could potentially lead to more problems. Try to be active, but avoid injuring your back with violent movements or heavy lifting.

You can take ibuprofen for the pain. Massage therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy are all great options for when you need to start ramping up treatment.

If none of the above helped, it might time to see a doctor.

Seeing a Doctor

At no point during this entire process should you be panicking, this is a common problem that most people will have to deal with at one time or another.

Your doctor is going to be interviewing you and giving an examination. The interview will try to get to the bottom of what caused the herniated discs and if there are other medical conditions that may be the actual cause of the problem.

During the physical exams, the doctor will be running a number of tests to check for pain, strength, the range of motion, and loss of sensation. This might sound invasive, but you’ll just be doing a bunch of walking, bending, and stretching. X-rays and MRI’s will also be taken.

If you are experiencing long-term pain a no other treatments have worked, surgery may be the next option for you.

Surgery

Surgery should only be considered if the pain is lasting longer than 6 weeks, there are worsening neurological symptoms, you are experiencing incontinence, or if nothing else has worked. But even if surgery is elected, it’s not the end of the world.

The surgery to fix a herniated lumbar disc is non-invasive and has a very high success rate of 84%. The surgery takes pressure off the nerve root by removing a small portion of the disc. And after 1-3 weeks of recovery, you’re back to normal.

However, there are always risks when it comes to surgeries, and about 10% of those who undergo surgery will again have a herniated disc at the same spot. Be sure to discuss surgery with your doctor before coming to a decision.

Being Prepared

A herniated lumbar disc is a common ailment. It can be caused by an accident, improper lifting procedures, or for seemingly no reason at all. Luckily, the pain that comes along with it should subside in a few weeks.

But for those who are still in pain, recovery may be a longer and scarier process. If you are seeking a clinic that specializes in non-invasive options, please contact us. We offer a wide array of surgical and non-surgical treatments tailored specifically to your needs.

A herniated lumbar disc is certainly a hurdle that many will face in life. But whether it’s a large or small hurdle will depend more on how you’ve treated it and how much you’ve prepared yourself for dealing with it. Remember, there are always options and help for when you’re dealing with a herniated lumbar disc.