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Sciatica, Bulging Discs, Herniated Discs
And Arthritis (Degenerative Disc Disease)
What’s The Difference And What’s The ONE
THING They All Have In Common?
B ack pain is one of the most common… yet misunderstood… conditions on the entire planet. And if you have back pain – you know exactly what I mean.
Chances are, if you have back pain… you may have been told you either have sciatica, bulging or herniated disc(s) or arthritis (degenerative disc disease). If you have – this newsletter is going to be very exciting for you. Why? Because you will discover the difference(s) between those conditions… and more importantly… the ONE THING they all have in common – that can possibly have you out of pain in no time.
But first, let me set the stage… According to Acute Low Back Problems In Adults, a clinical practice guideline published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1994…
· 80% of all adults will suffer with low back pain at some time in their life.
· Low back pain is the leading cause of disability for people under the age of 45.
· Low back pain is the second leading cause of visits to doctors’ offices.
· Low back pain is the third leading reason for hospital admissions
· Annual costs of back pain in the U.S. range from $20- $75 billion, and as much as $100 billion worldwide.
I think we can agree… those statistics are pretty scary. But here’s something that’s even more scary…
One of the biggest and most accepted myths about back pain is that it goes away all by itself – without any treatment. It has been written that 90% of episodes of low back pain will resolve within one month. I bet… if you’ve been to a doctor for your back pain… you’ve probably heard that too.
Well, a May 1998 study in the British Medical Journal showed this myth is… likely… completely false. Here are the eye-opening results:
Low back pain patients went to doctors for an initial consultation and were followed-up within 12 months after that initial consultation. Here are the results:
· 25% had no pain and no disability.
· 25% had either pain or disability.
· 50% had pain AND disability.
Here’s what the authors of that study concluded:
“This takes into account two consistent observations about low back pain: first, a previous episode of low-back pain is the strongest risk factor for a new episode, and, second, by age 30 years, almost half the population will have experienced a substantial episode of low-back pain. These figures simply do not fit with the claim that 90% of episodes of low-back pain end in complete recovery.”
This author’s conclusion from this study’s results: 75% of back pain sufferers will have either pain OR disability… or…. pain AND disability one year after their initial consultation with a doctor…
WITHOUT THE PROPER TREATMENT!!!
And here’s something very important I found myself thinking about after reading that study: I wonder what the results would be for a long-term follow-up. Like… 5 or 10 years after that initial back pain consultation. My guess is a majority… if not darn near all… of the 25% that had no pain or disability at the 12 month follow-up… would be in pain.
In fact… from my years of clinical experience… I can just about guarantee it.
It seems clear that “doing nothing” or just “resting” your back when you have pain is NOT the best path for you to take. On the contrary – it may be the worst -- setting you up for a lifetime of pain and suffering.
So what IS the proper treatment? We are going to discuss that in a moment. But first… let’s determine what’s causing your back pain…
If a doctor told you that you have “sciatica”, it means you have a condition that is affecting the sciatic nerve. The term sciatica is commonly used to describe pain traveling in the distribution of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a symptom caused by a disorder occurring in the lumbar spine. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body, about the diameter of a finger. The sciatic nerve supplies information about movements to the leg, and sends information about sensations back to the brain. The sciatic nerve is formed from the lower segments of the spinal cord; it is made up of the lumbar and sacral nerve roots from the spine. The sciatic nerve exits the lower part of the spinal cord (lumbosacral region), passes behind the hip joint, and runs down the back of the thigh.
Usually sciatica affects one side of the body. The pain may be dull, sharp, burning, or accompanied by intermittent shocks of shooting pain beginning in the buttock traveling downward into the back or side of the thigh and/or leg. Sciatica then extends below the knee and may be felt in the feet.
Sometimes symptoms include tingling and numbness. Sitting and trying to stand up may be painful and difficult. Coughing and sneezing can make the pain worse.
Herniated discs are the most common cause of sciatica in the lumbar spine.
Degenerative Disc Disease (we will talk more about this later in this newsletter) is known to cause disc weakness that can be a precursor to a disc herniation.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of one or more neural passageways due to disc degeneration and/or facet arthritis. The sciatic nerve may become impinged as a result of these changes.
Isthmic Spondylolisthesis results from a stress fracture often at the 5th lumbar vertebra (L5 is your last lumbar spinal bone just below the top of your hips). The fracture combined with disc space collapse may allow the vertebra to slip forward on the first sacral segment (S1). The slippage may cause the L5 nerve root to become pinched as it exits the spine.
Spinal tumors and infections are other disorders that may compress the sciatic nerve, but this is rare.
There are other conditions, which may occur, and may mimic true sciatica but these are difficult to diagnose… and once again… not common.
Herniation describes an abnormality of the intervertebral disc that is also known as a "slipped*," "ruptured," or "torn" disc.
*as a quick aside – the term “slipped disc” is old, out-dated and incorrect. Discs do not “slip.”
This process occurs when the inner core (nucleus pulposus) of the intervertebral disc bulges out through the outer layer of ligaments that surround the disc (annulus fibrosis). This tear in the annulus fibrosis causes pain in the back at the point of herniation. If the protruding disc presses on a spinal nerve, the pain may spread to the area of the body that is served by that nerve (like sciatica).
Between each vertebra in the spine are a pair of spinal nerves, which branch off from the spinal cord to a specific area in the body. Any part of the skin that can experience hot and cold, pain or touch refers that sensation to the brain through one of these nerves. In turn, pressure on a spinal nerve from a herniated disc will cause pain in the part of the body that is served by that nerve.
The causes of herniated discs are not entirely known, but are probably due to the function of the spine and long term wear and tear. The two most common locations for a herniated disc in the lower back are at the disc between fourth and fifth lumbar vertebra (L4-5) and at the disc between the fifth lumbar vertebra and the first sacral vertebra (L5-S1). These two discs account for 98 percent of all painful disc herniations. A disc herniation can occur elsewhere along the spine, but low lumbar herniations are by far the most common.
Note: The two most common discs for herniations can cause the symptoms associated with sciatica!!!
Usually a patient's main complaint is a sharp, cutting pain. In some cases, there may be a previous history of episodes of localized low back pain, which is present in the back and continues down the leg that is served by the affected nerve. This pain is usually described as a deep and sharp pain, which gets worse as it moves down the affected leg. The onset of pain with a herniated disc may occur out of the blue or it may be announced by a tearing or snapping sensation in the spine that is thought to be the result of a sudden tear of part of the annulus fibrosis.
What Is Degenerative Joint Disease/Arthritis?
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is often thought of as a “natural” process of getting older. The most common belief is… as we age, our intervertebral discs lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics. The ligaments that surround the disc called the annulus fibrosis, become brittle and they are more easily torn. At the same time, the soft gel-like center of the disc, called the nucleus pulposus, starts to dry out and shrink. The combination of damage to the intervertebral discs, the development of bone spurs, and a gradual thickening of the ligaments that support the spine can all contribute to degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine.
It is a fact that our bodies change as we age. Our “parts” basically wear out. But some people seem to go through these changes earlier in life and faster. A combination of genetics, lifestyle, previous trauma and function of your spine all play a role.
Even though most people have some level of degenerative changes in their spine as they age… not everyone has pain. Every patient is different, and it is important to realize that not everyone develops symptoms as a result of degenerative disc disease.
However, when degenerative disc disease becomes painful or symptomatic, it can cause several different symptoms, including back pain, leg pain, and weakness that are due to compression of the nerve roots.
These symptoms are caused by the fact that worn out discs are a source of pain because they do not function as well as they once did, and as they shrink, the space available for the nerve roots also shrinks. As the discs between the intervertebral bodies start to wear out, the entire lumbar spine becomes less flexible. As a result, people complain of back pain and stiffness, especially towards the end of the day.
As you can see, whether you have a herniated/bulging disc, sciatica or degenerative joint disease… many of the symptoms are the same. In the end… no matter what it is called… you end up with abnormal pressure of your nerves from your disc. And that’s why all of these conditions are often helped by the exact same treatment.
That treatment is the only one that is FDA approved for the non-surgical treatment of herniated and bulging discs and has an incredible 86% success rate: The DRX 9000 ä non-surgical spinal decompression unit.
The DRX 9000 ä was awarded coveted FDA approval by proving its breakthrough, patented technology not only relieves back pain, sciatica and numbness… in many cases, it actually reduces and promotes healing of the herniated and/or bulging discs!
Even when surgery is “successful” it does not “heal” the disc. Surgery usually cuts out the herniated or bulging part of the disc and may fuse the area. This puts abnormal stress on the remaining spinal discs and often leads to more herniations and more surgeries. The DRX is different. It promotes true healing to help prevent future relapses. The FDA was shown unquestionable proof on impressive before and after MRI’s demonstrating herniated and bulging disc reduction. In some cases, the herniations were shrunk by as much as 50%.
The DRX 9000 ä has had great success with:
· Herniated and bulging lumbar (low back) discs with or without complications
· Degenerative disc disease
· Sciatica And even more important -- to go along with the DRX 9000 ä ’s 86% success rate…there were…
NO DOCUMENTED SIDE EFFECTS!
Now here’s something to think about. Remember in the beginning of this newsletter we mention the study that showed 80% of most people will have back pain? And remember the other study that showed most who have back pain will still have it 12 months later? We also said later in the newsletter that conventional wisdom has always believed the changes associated with degenerative joint disease to be a “normal” part of aging.
Well… what do you think about this: Since the DRX 9000 ä not only gets rid of the pain associated with herniated and bulging discs… it also helps to repair the damage… is it possible to halt or even reverse the so-called “normal” process of aging in your spine?
Only further research will have the answer to that question… but… it does look quite promising – doesn’t it?
So, if you would like to know if the DRX9000 ä can help you get out of pain for good – don’t hesitate to give us a call and we will schedule you for the first available evaluation opening. The number to call is 724-342-BACK (2225)