Get Out Of Pain Without Back Or Neck Surgery
Get rid of the pain - Feel Better - Do More!
Many of you reading this or watching the associated video on YouTube or Facebook have experienced the type of pain I will be talking about and can understand the significance and the intensity of the pain we will be talking about. Some types of neck and back pain can be truly life-altering. It can be scary and can cause an extreme about of anxiety while serving a death blow to your confidence in your current abilities as well as your future abilities.
It can cause you to slip into fear avoidance as you start to step back from things you love doing because you are afraid you are going to hurt yourself again. When you have a hard time just getting yourself to the bathroom, well, let's be honest, nobody is in a hurry to repeat that kind of pain experience.
Nothing behaves quite like the pain patients suffer after a disc injury. Sometimes that means intense pain at the site of the injury. Sometimes it means excruciating pain in an arm or a leg. Sometimes, it's both!
However it presents, it is like no other pain and can reach a level that not even morphine can touch it. It's just awful. Trust me. I know. I've been there before. I played college football and was not kind to my body for several years. About 20 years ago, I went through a bout of this type of pain. A big ol' burly tough guy like me was reduced to not even being able to get to the kitchen or the bathroom. It was nauseating.
Some have experienced that intense amount of pain after something as simple as turning or moving too quickly. I know one patient that simply coughed and felt a 'squish' in their low back that turned into quite an ordeal. When you consider that it can happen that easily and quickly, you have patients stepping back from activities fairly quickly in an attempt to prevent it from ever happening again.
But, how long do you think that can go on before it becomes harmful to the person in the long term?
There are multiple things going on here that we can look at but here are two big ones:
- Chronic Pain
When we step back from things we love and activities that feed our souls or just simply make us happy, we begin to de-condition after only 7 days. The main issue here is that it takes much longer than 7 days to RE-condition to the level you once were at. This can cause a big problem if someone starts avoiding activities for extended amounts of time. Yes, that is completely unfair in case that is what was going through your mind just now. I liken it to the best tasting foods being the worst for our health. Some things just aren't right. This is one of them.
Chronic Pain -
Most pain experts and organizations agree that chronic pain sets in somewhere around the 3-month mark. We are accustomed to assuming pain will just go away as magically as it occurred but that's not always the case. Sometimes, you look up from your busy life and you have been hurting for 4, 5, or even 12 months. Now, the pain is chronic and now it is much harder to get a handle on.
Alternatives To Cortisone Injections Or Surgery
So, what are some of the ways we here at Creek Stone Integrated Medical clinic in Amarillo, TX help you avoid the pitfalls?
Fortunately, a deep dive into the research literature proves, and supports, the use of LOTS of other means of treatment before EVER considering surgery or cortisone shots. Surgery and Cortisone shots happen to be two of the most common medical approaches to treating disc injuries.
I will cover each alternative specifically below, but briefly, they are
- Non-Surgical Disc Decompression,
- Low-Level Laser,
- Targetted Exercises and Therapy,
- Spinal Manipulative Therapy,
- Trigger Point Injections, and
- Platelet-Rich Plasma treatment.
Non-surgical Disc Decompression
Decompression was the literal game-changer for our office when we added the treatment back in 2013. It is non-invasive and helps relieve the pressure that may be on the discs and causing some of the pain. We help create some space at the level of injury so that the disc can have a better chance at healing and healing quicker. Research has shown that disc decompression can increase the size and hydration of the disc which creates more space in the area. More space means less pressure and, typically, less pain. It has also been proven in the right candidates to reduce herniations and/or bulges. Especially in the low back region.
These are the things surgeons go in to take out. If we can do this through decompression, there is suddenly no reason for surgery. Not only that but, if we can buy the patient time with pain like this, the discs can usually heal up and many times the material from the injury gets absorbed by the body and simply disappears on its own. Again, no need for surgery when it works the way it is supposed to work. Like I said; it's a game-changer for most of our patients.
We like to try to be the very best we can be in everything we do so, we spent time in Dallas getting certified in decompression. It's worked out. Our patients get incredible results with decompression here at Creek Stone when they were unable to get results with decompression elsewhere. And they get the results at a less expensive cost than many of our competitors so it's a win/win for our patients.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP)
This new and emerging treatment for low back pain (and hair loss, and knee osteoarthritis, and hips, and shoulders, and plantar fasciitis, and on and on...) has shown impressive effectiveness for the 3 main reasons for you to suffer from back pain. The most common reasons for back pain are disc injury, facet joint irritation, and sacroiliac (SI) pain. PRP is shown in research to be a superior, effective, and fairly conservative treatment for all of them. PRP was found to improve pain and patient satisfaction while having no adverse events. Meaning, it didn't cause any complications. Not only that but one paper showed it to be effective for disc pain, pain radiating into a limb, facet joint pain, and SI pain. There is this research, as well as research showing the most common alternative, which is cortisone injections, to be detrimental to the joints and not as effective overall as PRP.
The choice on this is clear.
Spinal Manipulative Therapy
One of the traditional treatments used by chiropractors as well as doctors of osteopathy is spinal manipulative therapy (SMT). SMT utilizes the fact that movement is healing. When someone has surgery, they don't have them lay around in bed for very long. They are moving and walking the hospital halls almost immediately. That is because movement is healing. Even for a disc. Just ask a physical therapist. SMT is one of the easiest ways to get sore or injured segments moving. Even if slightly. In addition, it can happen in a nice, gentle, and non-aggressive way that can truly help to speed up the whole process of healing and pain relief.
Exercise & Rehabilitation
Any provider other than a physical therapist cannot use the term 'physical therapy' when describing their services but, here at Creek Stone we are very big on movement, function, biomechanics, and returning to your regular activities of daily living as soon as possible. For that reason, we prescribe exercises that are specific to the patient's injury and complaint.
Sometimes, a patient should not be bending forward. They come in stretching and showing us they can touch their toes when that is actually the worst thing they could be doing and the patient should actually be going the other way with their stretches. When you have providers like Creek Stone's providers that understand how to determine the best exercises, then they can make a big impact and get you over the hump incredibly quickly. Safely and conservatively.
Trigger Point Injections (TPI)
If you've ever had significant pain in the neck or the back, you probably recall that the groups of muscles in the area of pain 'clinched up' or locked up. This is a common guarding mechanism used by the body to prevent further insult or injury. Besides common stress and tension, this guarding can be a common cause of trigger points in the muscles. A trigger point injection can help soothe muscle pain, especially in your arms, legs, lower back, and neck. TPI also can be used to treat fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and myofascial pain. Sometimes you can feel these knots when you rub your muscle.
Injecting small amounts of anesthetic into the trigger point, as our nurse practitioner can do, can help alleviate the pain. The vast majority of patients say they never even felt the injection and they have almost immediate relief afterward.
Low-Level Laser (Cold Laser)
Low-level laser is on the list of first-line therapies recommended by the American College of Physicians for back pain. It sends charged photons into the tissues, where it stimulates them into repairing themselves. The amount of inflammation in the damaged area will go down as well, and your pain will begin to lessen. It may take more than one treatment for this to work, but the results can be impressive.
Each treatment only takes a few minutes even though the photons will continue to work for some time afterward. It's an excellent ancillary treatment for disc injuries since it's great at reducing inflammation (one of the biggest reasons for the pain) and may help the disc heal up faster. That means our patients get out of pain faster when they combine low-level laser with non-surgical decompression.
Putting it all together
Let's pretend a new patient comes into our clinic with low back pain caused by a disc injury. We know that the best answer to getting them back to normal quickly is a broad, multi-modal treatment. That means several different treatments all working together towards one goal.
Knowing this, we do an exam and we confirm that it is indeed a disc and there seem to be no worries that would warrant referring for a surgical consult and no emergencies. Therefore, during the exam, we determine the best exercises and movements to get going for the patient so we can speed up the healing process and provide so at-home, self-management for the patient. Then we recommend non-surgical decompression combined with the low-level laser to get the pressure off of the segment and reduce the inflammation while we try to stimulate a faster healing process. at the same appointment, we would gently get the segment moving through spinal manipulative therapy.
Patients LOVE this part because sometimes SMT alone helps relieve some of the pain and pressure. Almost immediately. Also in the same visit, our nurse practitioner can evaluate the patient for muscle guarding and, with the patient's help, determine whether trigger point therapy will be done.
If after a week or two there is little to no positive response, then we would consider having the patient begin PRP injections.
You can see why having options, all under one roof is really the ideal and most beneficial way of getting out of pain. Not only getting out of pain but getting out of pain quickly, safely, with little to no significant risk of complications and doing with providers that are evidence-based and patient-centered. This means we do what the research suggests we should do, we follow guidelines in our field, and we only do what is in the best interest of the patient rather. Always.
If we can help you or a loved one, we encourage you to call us at 806-355-3000 and let us get you on our schedule so we can help you get back to your old self.
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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