Avoid Back Surgery. Chiropractic care can help you alleviate back pain and restore functionality.
When people say they have a bad back, what are some conditions they might have?
Dr. Andrew Shepherd: Well, as according to the American Medical Association, over 70% of people will experience some sort of back pain at some point in their life. Now, that’s a huge number. In fact, it’s responsible for over 40% of medical office visits every year and billions of dollars in prescribed NSAIDs, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. The term “bad back” is a very loose one and may encompass any of these following types of conditions: sprain strains, a muscle spasm, nerve interference, disc herniations, or disc protrusions, or disc blowouts, subluxations which is a spinal misalignment of the vertebra which creates a pressure on the nerves, which creates a spasm and a tension within the muscles, arthritis, scoliosis and these are to name just a few.
For a new chiropractic patient, what is the process you follow to find the cause of their back pain and diagnose their condition?
Dr. Andrew Shepherd: You hit the nail on the head with that question there, Liz. What is the cause of the condition? We really have to take a full comprehensive case history. We want to know what happened, pretty much from cradle to where that person is today, whether that be as little as six months or as many as 70 years. We’re going to sit down with our patients, they’ll sit down with one of our doctors to fully explain their condition. Then, we’ll perform a comprehensive exam and that may include any and all of the following and remember all of these exams are case-specific. They would experience range-of-motion testing, muscle strength testing, vitals, an orthopedic exam, a neurological exam, and if necessary x-ray imaging. If a case is potentially severe, then MRI may be ordered for the imaging and we usually complete most exams with a static EMG which enables us to visualize what’s actually occurring with the nerves non-invasively, from the inside out
What treatments do you provide to help patients alleviate their back pain and restore functionality?
Dr. Andrew Shepherd: Again, very case-specific. I would encourage people to take a look at our website which is www.mhcnz.com and there, we have an extensive list of all of the different treatment modalities that we utilize. However, what I’m going to touch on now is just a few of some of the things that you could expect, depending upon your specific condition. Spinal manipulation may be required and we may choose to do that either using high-tech instruments or gently by hand. Decompression may be indicated. Physical therapy, rehabilitation, massage therapy, nutritional supplementation, help with diet and physical activities of daily living, heat and cryo, or ice therapy, and we also utilize cold laser treatment and something that we have used in Europe for years which is a vibration plate and that is phenomenal for helping to prevent and reverse the effects of osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Why should people try to avoid back surgery? What are the risks and long term adverse affects of undergoing back surgery?
Dr. Andrew Shepherd: Liz, there’s always a time and a place for surgery. However, it does come with certain risks and potential side effects. Here at our office, we prefer to offer conservative, non-invasive treatment first, though. Back surgeries can lead to osteoarthritis, a loss of range of motion, or partial functional loss of a particular organ group or muscle group. Sometimes, they can lead to an increase, not a decrease, in pain. There will always be scar tissue associated. Scar tissue doesn’t respond as well to treatments because it has what we call “cross-hatching” which makes it difficult to move the way that normal tissue can.
Of course, with any surgery, a long recovery period is necessary and that’s going to require significant time away from both your work and/or your family duties; but as previously mentioned, we regularly refer to orthopedic and neurosurgeons for consultations if our treatment is either ineffective, or if our treatment is in fact contraindicated. Like I said, we want to try and avoid surgeries but they have a place and they are necessary in certain cases.
Have you had patients you have helped that have actually canceled back surgery after it had been recommended by their medical doctor?
Dr. Andrew Shepherd: I have many medical doctors and orthopedic surgeons who refer patients to me first in an attempt to avoid the back surgery. In many cases, we are able to have these patients … Help, sorry, these patients avoid any surgical procedure at all, but in other cases, we have to refer them straight back to the medical doctor or the orthopedic and concur with their diagnosis that there really is no other option and that surgery is now the best option for that patient.
If you’re interested in speaking with Dr. Andrew Shepherd, you can either go online to www.planochiropractornow.com or call 972-212-5725 to schedule an appointment.