When a person develops lower back pain that is significant and persists they eventually tend to see a health care specialist for help. The response and recommendations that the patient receives can vary quite substantially depending upon the professional visited. This article discusses some of the different opinions and therapies that a patient might encounter, as well as current research pertaining to lower back pain.
One of the types of practitioners a person suffering from low back pain might see is a medical doctor (M.D.). A M.D.’s approach can vary from conservative to aggressive. The most common conservative treatment is the use of anti-inflammatory medications. Additionally, physical therapy consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises might be utilized.
A doctor of medicine might also seek diagnostic investigation by having the patient undergo Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the lower spine. A MRI is a tool that allows healthcare specialists to see images or views of the anatomy of the lower back. Physical structures seen include the bones of the spine, called vertebrae, intervertebral discs, the spinal cord and its subsequent nerve roots.
A common finding seen on a MRI is an abnormality of an intervertebral disc. An intervertebral disc (also called a lumbar disc or simply “disc”) is a pad or shock absorber that sits between two vertebrae. The most common abnormal finding of a disc is a bulge or protrusion. A more concerning finding would be an extrusion of a lumbar disc.
In the past, a protrusion or bulge was thought to be a significant cause of back pain causation. However studies have shown, definitively, that this is not the case. A research study reported by doctors of the Mayo Clinic, published in the Journal of Neuroradiology in 2014 revealed that MRI findings of disc protrusion and disc degeneration are part of the normal aging process rather than a condition requiring back surgery. The researchers stated that most of the abnormal disc changes are no more significant than “gray hair or crow’s feet around their eyes”.
The best advice for anyone diagnosed with a “bad disc” is to seek conservative nonsurgical, drug-free chiropractic care first. Chiropractic treatment of lower back pain has had much success for over 100 years. Treatment given by doctors of chiropractic consists primarily of spinal manipulation. Spinal manipulation is a manual therapy given by a chiropractor to a patient to realign and correct abnormal movements of the spine and pelvis. These treatments are very safe and can help nearly 90% of cases where spinal mechanics, principally joint dysfunction, are the main cause of lower back pain.
Typically the only people who need drugs, injections, or surgery are those who suffer from infections such as staff, cancer, fractures or the one in 100 disc case that does not respond to chiropractic care.
So the next time you or someone you know is told you need disc surgery seek chiropractic care first and it is highly likely you will be pleased with the results.