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Old 07-20-2008, 06:06 AM   #1
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Question HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

Long story short, DH has a very physical job where injured himself at over 5 yrs ago (herniation and disk degeneration at L5S1). He has tried almost everything (traditional chiro, message, epidurals, facet blocks, loads of pain pills). Until a few months ago, he worked continuously through his pain with the help of loads of narcotics. Well, after going through drug rehab after finally deciding not to take the drugs, he can barely move. He says the pain goes across his lower back and down his left leg so bad, he's extremely nauseous, and he cannot work (and its driving him crazy).

A friend of ours referred him to this chiropractic doctor that takes sort of an alternative medicine kind of approach. On his first visit, they did a couple of different types of EMG's on his back that showed which areas were really bad and working overtime because of the injuries. He explained that part of the reason those bad areas of the back hurt so bad is because their isn't enough blood flow going to that area and it's almost like it's dead. (compared it to a plant not getting enough water). He said that once he gets regular treatments and those areas get proper bloodflow, he will gradually start to feel better, and it's a way better option than getting surgery. His treatments aren't like the traditional "back cracking" chiro visits. He first put you in that chair, then he gently presses and massages the troubled areas, then he uses that "tapping" instrument on you. Problem is, the visits are quite expensive.

Now heres where we're at....... DH has already been off work 3 months, and has gone thru 1 month of these visits while waiting for workerscomp to get their stuff together. So far, he says that while he is at the doctors his back feels better, but soon as he leaves it hurts. His stomach pain has ended though. The doctor keeps saying that he'll notice the time his back isn't hurting will get longer and longer. The problem is, WHEN?

DH was told by a neurosurgeon a year ago that he needed a lumbar fusion, which he has avoided. His primary doctor also has him scheduled to go to a pain mgmt doctor to get a discogram and a percutaneous disk decompression. The main argument is that he's just sick of wasting all this time. If the chiro treatments would help and he could avoid surgery, heck, he'd love to go that route...... but if all it's doing is delaying what he's going to need to have done, he'd rather just move on and have it done now.

That being said, has anyone had any type of success with the chiro treatments? If not, would you recommend that he just go ahead with the discogram and percutaneous disk decompression or just throw in the towel and get the lumbar fusion? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

 
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Old 07-20-2008, 08:12 AM   #2
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

In my opinion, chiropractors have their time and place, but I'm not a big fan of that tapping tool. I was having some arm pain that was coming from some arthritis in my neck, and after a month of TENS unit and tapping I was fed up and stopped going. I got no relief at all, and a couple of months later the problem resolved on its own.

Perhaps a good idea would be to take his films and get a second opinion from a surgeon who has a really good reputation as a spine specialist, and then make a decision from there.

 
Old 07-20-2008, 02:43 PM   #3
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

A chiropractor can definitely help a herniated disk --- get worse, that is! Like Paula, I think chiropractors have their time and place, as long as you're careful not to go to an "assembly line" chiro. I've been to a bunch of them over the years, and some should be employed at a fast food joint instead of a treatment type office. There are some good ones out there, but if you have a real problem, such as a herniated disk, I would not recommend letting a chiropractor touch you unless cleared by a back specialist who is a real doctor (unlike a chiropractor).

Just my two cents worth...

Emily

 
Old 07-21-2008, 01:41 AM   #4
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

I thoroughly agree with Paula and Emily. I was told by my internal medicine doctor to avoid chiropractors because it would only worsen my condition. I do know that there are some situations, in which a chiropractor actually helps with the pain of some types of medical conditions. I guess what I am trying to say is be careful and maybe your husband could ask his doctor if he/she recommends a chiropractor. Please keep us updated!

Sincerely, Tam
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:55 AM   #5
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

Years ago, before my first laminectomy for a very badly herniated disc, I did try to see a chiropractor before I finally gave in to surgery (which by the way, was a 100% success.) The chiro took a quick x-ray, and then told me she wouldn't touch me with a 10 foot pole. She told me there was nothing she, as a chiropractor, could do to help me, and the risk of further damaging me was way too high.

This type of chiropractor is rare.

In later years I would see one on occasion for my back, and adjustments did work - but they were adjustments for minor alignment problems, not a repeat of the herniation. Then, after my experience with my neck and the stupid tapping tool, I learned I needed to be very careful about who I saw, because not everyone was as honest as that first who refused to treat me.

My younger daughter was going to be a chiropractor, and I finally convinced her to go for osteopathic medicine instead. This way she'd still be a real doctor who could, with far more knowledge, do what chiropractors do, and much more.

In my opinion (which is worth whatever it is as a layperson) the decision for a lumbar fusion should be based upon the condition and severity of his DDD. I just had a L4-S1 fusion, and my decision to go ahead with the surgery was based upon the condition of my L5-S1. I did not have a herniation, but I did have complete disc collapse on one side, resulting in bone on bone contact. There was no amount of physical therapy that could repair that, and no shots that could fix it. My choice was to allow the collapse to complete itself on the other side and hope for self-fusion, or go ahead with the surgery. The risk of letting it collapse on its own was how long it would take (with extreme pain while I waited) and then the hope that it would collapse in proper alignment. I'm almost 4 weeks post op, and I know I made the right decision.

Last edited by paula456; 07-21-2008 at 02:09 AM.

 
Old 07-21-2008, 05:13 PM   #6
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

Thanks for the replies all. He has decided he's just going to break down and get the surgery, I just pray that all goes well. Neither one of us cares that it'll take a while to recover, we just want to be sure that he will recover.

Is there any way you could look for recommended surgeons in a particular field? Any website or magazine or something?

 
Old 07-21-2008, 05:17 PM   #7
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

I would look for orthopedic surgeons who specifically specialize in spinal issues. Someone who is fellowship trained on spine issues would be best. I would recommend my surgeon but I'm all the way in NE PA, and that would be quite a hike for you.

 
Old 07-21-2008, 05:26 PM   #8
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

I love my awesome surgeon, too, but I guess you don't want to come all the way down here, either.

Like Paula said, you want someone who specializes in spines and who has done a fellowship. If you know any nurses, they're great sources for who the best doctors are. They see things from the inside, and they have nothing to lose by telling who's good and who isn't. Physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and other allied health workers are also "in the know" if you happen to know any such professionals.

Hope you find the perfect doc for your hubby. Let us know how it goes.

Take care,
Emily

 
Old 07-21-2008, 07:59 PM   #9
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

Thanks for the replies. This particular doctor that he was thinking of doing the surgery is a neurosurgeon, not an ortho surgeon, that works out of the Cleveland Clinic. His website says that he's board certified in neurosurgery and specializes in injuries of the cervical and lumbar spine. Nothing is mentioned about fellowships.

Now, I got a referral from a woman I work with that said she had a fusion 20 yrs ago by a phenomenal doctor (an orthopaedic surgeon) that is a part of UPMC (in Pittsburgh). We were going to go to him for a second opinion but would it possibly be wiser to have him do the surgery?? I was reading his bio on their site: it says that his specialty is orthopaedics, his sub-specialty is the spine. He also has fellowships (what's a fellowship?) in 4 different hospitals. Is that good?

 
Old 07-21-2008, 11:01 PM   #10
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Re: HELP! Can chiro adjustments help a degenerated/herniated disk?

A fellowship is just addtional education and training in a specialized medical field. In this case, it would be in spines.

A neurosurgeon is fine.

Just know.. there is no guarantee that the surgery will make him fine again. It may but just know it may not.

I was only given 50/50 odds that my fusion surgery would take my pain away at all, if any. I am over 90% improved, but not entirely painfree. But compared to my life before the surgery and the odds given.. Im thrilled with my progress to date.

Good luck and hope this helps.
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L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!

 
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