3 Secrets About Back Pain
This article was provided by Dr. Paul Meyer, a chiropractor at Meyer Chiropractic Center in Arlington, TX. For more information about Dr. Meyer, please visit https://www.meyerchiro.com/.
You have back pain. Occasionally it’s bad, but most of the time it’s tolerable. It comes and goes and, at this point of time, it doesn’t affect your quality of life. If it gets too bad, you take over the counter medication. Sometimes, you may go to your medical doctor and get a prescription. Your doctor tells you it’s muscle spasms and to rest, use a heating pad and take these anti-inflammatory pills. Your doctor tells you if it gets too bad, we’ll send you for an MRI of your back.
And it’s OK because these episodes only come once or twice a year and last a few days. But what he didn’t tell you is: The reason your back hurts has nothing to do with the tight muscles. Your muscle tightness and spasm are a reaction to a more serious problem.
Secret # 1 - Muscle spasms are not the problem.
Persistent back pain, in the same spot, that comes and goes is a result of a deteriorating disc. The fibers of the cartilage that separate the bones of your spine are deteriorating. Those fibers become irritated from movement and inflame. The disc has nerves and when the nerves sense pain, they send messages to the muscles of that area of your spine to contract. You have pain and spasm. Your medical doctor is treating your symptoms. Which is OK, because you start to feel better, but nothing is done to take care of the cause of your problem.
Secret # 2 - You will get worse over time.
Treating symptoms allows a reprieve from your pain, but the deterioration of your disc continues. Not only that, but some research shows that Ibuprofen (Advil) may damage cartilage further.
Let’s talk about the disc.
In your spine, you have two vertebrae (spinal bones) separated by a disc made of cartilage. If you take an onion and cut it in half and look down at it, that’s what a disc looks like. Rings and rings of tightly wound cartilage. At the center of the disc is an area filled with a thick jelly-like substance called the nucleus.
In the beginning, when we were younger, the fibers of the disc are elastic and pliable. They will stretch and give as you move. The disc is also full of fluid. Imagine a ripe juicy grape. It can take a lot of stress and strain, until the fibers of the onion tear. Nothing happens to the vertebrae until the disc goes bad first.
The disc is also the most pain sensitive structure in the spine, so when your back hurts you want to start looking at the disc. Not always is it the cause, but most of the time there is some involvement.
As time goes on, the disc loses it’s ability to hold fluid and the rings begin to dry out. Over time, the jelly pushes against the weaker rings and they begin to break. Each time they break, they cause pain and the surrounding muscles to contract to stop the spinal movement and protect your back.
These are the flare-up of pain you experience periodically. On an MRI a healthy disc is bright white, because water is white on an MRI. An unhealthy disc is dark because it has lost its ability to hold water.
So now your ripe juicy grape begins to look like a dried out raisin. As the jelly breaks its way to the outer most rings, these fibers begin to stretch forming a bulge. Generally this may cause pain to radiate to your back, buttock and thigh, but not below your knee. In your neck you may experience pain from your neck to your elbow.
This is commonly known as a “slipped disc”. Though the disc doesn’t actually slip, it balloons out. When the balloon becomes large, it may touch or compress a nerve. Now your symptoms will drop down below your knee or below your elbow. When the jelly breaks all the way through the rings and leaks out, this is called a herniated or ruptured disc.
Secret # 3 - The best way to treat this condition is not with drugs.
Suppose your disc is bulging, you have back pain that radiates to your buttock on the left, but not below your knee. You can take all the medication you want. You can use all the rubs and lotions you want. You can do all the exercises you want. But at the end of the day that disc is just as bad off as when you started.
The best treatment involves a therapy that can do two things.
1) Be able to pull the jelly back to the middle
2) Pull fluid from the surrounding tissue back into the rings.
The only way to accomplish this is with a treatment called:
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression.
By gently pulling the vertebrae apart, suction is formed in the center of the disc. This suction pulls the jelly back toward the middle and allows the rings of the onion to move back to their normal position. They can now begin to heal and knit back together.
In addition, by dropping the pressure inside the disc, there is a flow of fluid from the surrounding tissue back into the rings of the disc. They become rehydrated. Like putting a stalk of wilted celery into a glass of water. The water fills the cells giving them strength.
Persistent and consistent treatment can change not only the course of your condition, but help control the pain for years to come.
It’s your choice. Keep taking drugs until the disc degenerates enough to have surgery, or do something like Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression to help improve the disc and your quality of life.
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