Avoid Serious Spinal Surgery Due To Disc Herniations & Bulges
Facing disc herniations? We have safe, conservative solutions.
We hear it from our patients just about every week, "I have a bulging disc and the doctor wants to do surgery." That's pretty heavy, right? But what if I told you that out of 56 million back pain sufferers, only about 5% of them truly need surgery? What if I added to that and shared with you that research shows us that over 60% of 40-50-year-olds have bulging and/or herniated discs BUT HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PAIN WHATSOEVER?
That's right. So many disc bulges and herniation yet no pain. That means a large percentage of patients are having spinal surgery when the disc injury they see on an MRI is not the source of the pain. That is more than distressing. But it is also encouraging because that means we can save A LOT of folks from undergoing spinal surgeries because so many of them can be completely avoided with the right kind of conservative treatment.
Before we get into our solutions for avoiding spinal surgeries, I want to share with you the most recent recommendations from the American College of Physicians (ACP) with regards to treatments for acute (short-lived) and chronic (long-lasting) back pain. The ACP is a huge medical organization and for FIRST LINE treatments, they recommend the following:
- Spinal Manipulative Therapy
- Targetted and specific exercise
- Low-level laser (aka cold laser)
- Tai Chi
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Those that know the incredible effectiveness will add Non-surgical Spinal Decompression to the list. In fact, it should be added to the top of the list. Spinal decompression is safe, effective, conservative, painless, and is the NUMBER ONE way our disc patients can avoid spinal surgery. It is the epitome of a GAME CHANGER with regards to helping to heal discs and sore backs.
Before we get to that, I want to tell you what an injured disc even is. Between the bones of our spine, we all have a cartilage, circular padding that acts as a shock absorber. It's built like a jelly donut. It's got a jelly center and a harder outer ring made of cartilage. That cartilage, through age, injury, or a score of other reasons, can develop a tear in it that allows the inner jelly to either bulge or completely push through the outer ring. OUCH!
When this happens, people are many times basically disabled for an amount of time. sometimes they stand crooked, can't bend forward, can't even walk, and sometimes simply cannot find a comfortable position at all. Still, others will have pain run out and down into an arm or leg. This is called radicular pain and it can feel like burning, tingling, or a shocking type of pain. These are all common characteristics of a disc injury and they can be life-changing and, to be honest, they can be downright scary.
This is usually about the time they go to their family doctor. A family doctor that does not specialize in musculoskeletal or spinal conditions. Since a general family practitioner does not typically specialize in such complaints, they also don't typically know the best place to direct the patient based on current guidelines and recommendations. For example, a great evidence-based, patient-centered provider can typically handle disc injuries fairly quickly and effectively without the need for surgical intervention. These providers can be chiropractors or physical therapists. A good evidence-based chiropractor is well-schooled in physical therapy-type exercise, chiropractors use spinal manipulative therapy, spinal decompression, targetted and specific exercises, and low-level laser and they can usually handle these conditions quickly with ease.
The problem is that the family physician does not typically know or understand this. Although relations have drastically improved in recent years, the professions have not traditionally worked well with each other over the years. That is the main reason the knowledge of what our colleagues can or cannot do and how they can or cannot treat is not always at the level one would hope for. This also explains why patients that should probably be directed to a conservative practitioner get railroaded toward unnecessary MRIs and unnecessary spinal surgeries.
Here is another golden nugget to remember. Research by a guy named Keeney and his colleagues in Washington State showed that state workers with work-related back pain that visited a surgeon first ended up having surgery 42.7% of the time while another group of work-related injury sufferers who visited a chiropractor first only had surgery 1.5% of the time.
For the same types of injuries!!!
THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT KEEP EVIDENCE-BASED, PATIENT-CENTERED CHIROPRACTORS AWAKE AT NIGHT!
How do you get the message across to people that they should be visiting an office like Creek Stone Integrated Medical clinic in Amarillo, TX before going to a surgeon and before going to pain management? Before having pain stimulators implanted in them. Before having cortisone shots in their joints to eat up the joint. Before having their nerves burned. Before taking opioids. And definitely before having back surgery that has been shown to need repeating in about 50% of the cases.
YOU ALMOST NEVER NEED SPINAL SURGERY if you're going to the right place.
So, how can the providers here at Creek Stone Integrated Medical make a difference for you? I'm glad you asked. First, we have West Texas's only chiropractor with Fellowship training in Orthopedics. The only one all of the way down to the Mexico border and one of only about 20 in the state of Texas. That means we can usually get to the source of the issue quickly and, in healthcare, it all comes down to the most accurate diagnosis. So this part really really matters.
When the issue is a disc bulge, disc herniation, facet arthropathy, radiculopathy, or stenosis, Spinal Decompression combined with Low-level Laser here in our office is the first and most important thing. There is nothing quite as effective in treating disc issues that I have seen. We have had many patients tell us they tried decompression elsewhere but didn't get any results. Once they try it here, they are typically convinced. We were trained in the Kennedy Decompression program and can typically get our patients results when others could not. I understand that may sound a bit braggadocious but when our goal is to help our patients avoid life-altering surgeries, sometimes it's better to lay it all out on the table and say, "We can almost always help you avoid surgery. Even if you've tried chiropractic or decompression somewhere else and didn't get good results."
After all, it's not usually chiropractic that failed. Or it's not always physical therapy that failed. The majority of the time, it's the provider that failed and all you had to do was find the right provider for you and your condition.
Continuing on, spinal manipulation is based on movement and movement is healing. An evidence-based chiropractor is uniquely positioned to leverage spinal manipulation to get our patients back to normal faster and more effectively. Especially when combined with exercises that are specific to the patient's injury.
Which is a good segue to talk about exercise. Many chiropractors are trained in physical therapy-type exercises and physical rehabilitation. When trained correctly, we can take the accurate diagnosis and help lead you in exercises and moves that have been proven to improve the specific complaint. Sometimes bending forward to touch your toes is not the best thing for you when you have a disc injury. In fact, I would say most of the time, patients should be doing exercises emphasizing extension at the waist rather than flexion. At least until it heals up. That is why I say it should be targeted specifically to the condition because some exercises aggravate certain injuries. Exercise is excellent. But not all exercises in certain situations.
In addition to all of these means of treating a fussy disc injury, we also offer medical services to help our patients get well quicker. Treatments like trigger point injections to treat and eliminate knots in the sore and guarded muscles in the area. We can also use Platelet-Rich Plasma to hit the region with healing that can help repair injury quickly. No to mention something for pain when appropriate and necessary.
We also believe strongly in educating our patients about what chronic pain really is. Why it occurs and some symptoms of being in chronic pain syndrome. The first step to controlling chronic pain is to understand it. That's where we come in.
These are just a few of the ideas on how we can treat disc herniations in Amarillo, TX, and how we can help our patients avoid spinal surgery. Back surgery and neck surgery are painful and the recovery process is long. Not only that, but 50% or more of the time, they have to be repeated.
It's time for a mental shift in how you, your family, and your friends view spinal pain and how it should be treated. The most current research proves that an integrated clinic like Creek Stone offering medical services, evidence-based chiropractic care, exercise, spinal decompression, laser, acupuncture, and massage is the #1 first stop for these injuries.
If you are in the Amarillo, TX area or will be traveling through and need to be seen, call us at 806-355-3000 and let us get you on the schedule and see what we can do to get you back on track.
Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist, Orthopedic specialist, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast (https://www.chiropracticforward.com). Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com.
Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.
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