Chiropractic FAQs

Is degenerative disc disease truly a disease?

Is it a natural process or evidence of some neglect?

It has been said that this is a natural part of the aging process. In our opinion there is nothing natural about the spine degenerating at one level and not the next.

What about a result from injury to the back?
Repetitive stress or a one-time trauma can cause small tears in the disc tissue. The body's inflammatory process - in an attempt to heal these tears - causes abnormal motion of the vertebral joints. These factors - in addition to long term dehydration and nutritional deficiencies - set in motion the degeneration process.

Your lower back and neck pain may or may not continue to hurt. Symptoms of pain, numbness or tingling down the legs or arms may come and go. Sitting may make the low back pain worse. Bending and twisting may increase symptoms.

Degeneration is usually divided up into 3 phases.

  • Phase One has some loss of normal alignment, some loss of mechanical function and possibly some damage to the soft tissue and some nerve irritation.
  • In Phase Two your body has developed some disc height change, the bones are starting to change shape and you will experience nerve irritation.
  • In Phase Three the joints may not move well at all and start to fuse together. At this point the nerve is being significantly damaged. Your body has developed plenty of scar tissue as well.

If we take x-rays (or you bring some in from another doctor's office), we will then sit down and compare your spinal pictures to healthy vital ones.

We"ll want to see normal alignment, normal disc height and normal bony tissue. By the degree away from 'normal' we'll then classify your spine into one of the three phases and work to prevent further degradation.

What is sciatica?

The sciatic nerve runs down your leg from your low back. When functioning normally, it controls the movements and feelings in your legs. When symptoms occur, one or more of the nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve is being pinched by a disc bulge, disc herniation or other narrowing processes. Numbness or loss of strength may occur. The result is what is called sciatica. Treatment for sciatic nerve pain varies but I have been very successful with a combination of exercises, chiropractic, and spinal decompression.

Exercises include warming up the spine on a Wobble Chair prior to the decompression therapy and cooling the spine down after decompression on a whole body vibration platform.

Ice or Heat?

Click here to download a copy of icing instructions for your refrigerator. (PDF.)

A swollen wrist - should I ice it or heat it? There is a lot of misinformation about icing and heating tissue. A good practice is to ice swollen joints and to heat spastic tissue. If you don't know whether your symptom is a tissue or a joint, then ice it. Ice is the most important method to inhibit the inflammation and ensure that scar tissue is not laid down.

Can you ice too long? Yes, the amount of time you ice is critical. Cold will cause the blood vessels to constrict initially but eventually the body will prevail and cause 'vasodilatation' to increase the blood supply to the area. More blood equals more damaged tissue and more swelling.

Because of this delicate balance the following times are recommended:
10 minutes of icing for cervical areas (neck, elbow, wrist, hand, shin, ankle, foot)
15 minutes of icing for thoracic (mid back, shoulder, knee)
20 minutes of icing for lumbar (low back, pelvis, thigh)

Be careful as you must always protect your skin from frostbite. Don't put your ice pack directly on your skin. Either move the ice around in an ice massage of sorts, OR use a thin towel between the ice and your skin.

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