Spinal Decompression/Back problems and hernia
Good Morning Dr. Hall
My question is related to recent findings of a MRI for back problems. I usually get problems with my back 4 or 5 times a year, which requires for me to stop working and lay down in bed because it is impossible to stand or seat with incredible pain. I am retired military and during my retirement physical over 11 years ago, I was never given an MRI to see the severity of my problems and was just rated with lumbosacral strain. Since then my back has been getting worse and recently was given the opportunity for an MRI which showed the following" lumbar spine degenerative changes with minimal degenerative joint space narrowing at L4-S1)" the paperwork even mention arthritis. My main question is....could back problems as these would have my body overstressed in areas that could result in hernias?.....don't want to confuse you..just trying to find out if I can get hernias because of my back problems.....My second question....how can one for sure know if I have any arthritis? I remember asking the physician during my retirement physical to be evaluated for arthritis as I have always have problems with my joins, specially ankles, knees, back, shoulbers and hands, and he said there is no wa y to test for it. Now that the MRI shoes that I have some type of arthiris on my back, I am just wondering if I always had it, but was never verified. I am sorry for the long email....but thanks
Millions of Americans suffer from severe back and neck pain as a result Degenerative Disc Disease. DDD as it is often referred to in the literature is not really a “disease” in the common sense of the word, but rather a term used to describe a process or condition that develops gradually and worsens over time. Use of this term indicates that the cartilage-like discs between the spinal vertebral joints are the primary cause of the symptoms, and that the degenerative changes are rather advanced. To some degree intervertebral discs lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics as we age as do the other tissues in the body. Abnormal or excessive mechanical stresses or injuries of the past coupled with hereditary, developmental, and metabolic influences can rapidly accelerate this process.
As the involved disc dries out and loses height (a process known as desiccation) it causes the vertebra to become closer together narrowing the channels through which the nerve roots pass. A dry, hard disc can absorb less shock and is thus more easily torn resulting in a greater likelihood of herniation or bulge further compressing or pinching the nerves. As the stress on the joint compounds and osteoarthritis begins to result, bone spurs form and ligaments thicken (hypertrophy) gradually narrowing the nerve channels even further. These factors in various combinations and degrees of severity compromise the space in the nerve channels, a condition known as spinal stenosis (narrowing), and conspire to compress (pinch) the nerves.
Imagine a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease to being somewhat similar to having the dealership tell you that a tire on your car is going bald. This is a gradual process that worsens over time. Eventually a tire goes flat and eventually the dry disc fibers will bulge or herniate. According to your description this happens to you 4 or 5 times a year. The first 100 times the herniation may subside with nothing more than bed rest and ibuprofen but watch out for that 101st time.
In the past, a patient suffering from disc problems was usually given pain medications or injections, instructed to refrain from physical activities, referred for physical therapy, and when they weren’t progressing they were sent for spinal surgery or simply told to learn to live it. Since 2001 when the FDA finally approved non-surgical spinal decompression therapy, there is new hope for those who suffer from degenerative disc disease. Spinal Decompression Therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical treatment performed on a special, computer controlled table similar in some ways to an ordinary traction table. A single disc level is isolated and by utilizing specific traction and relaxation cycles throughout the treatment, along with proper positioning, negative pressure can actually be created within the disc. It works by gently separating the offending disc 5 to 7 millimeters creating negative pressure (or a vacuum) inside the disc to pull water, oxygen, and nutrients into the disc, thereby re-hydrating a degenerated disc and bringing in the nutrients needed to heal the torn fibers and halt the degenerative process. As the disc is re-hydrated the shock absorbing properties are restored and a normal life can be resumed.
For more information click on http://www.triangledisc.com
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