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8 Steps for Handling Severe Low Back Pain and Disc Issues

Updated: Sep 18, 2018

Here's the scenario: you've woken up one morning and as you go to pet the dog, you suddenly realize that you cannot stand up. This is an unfortunate incident and the problem was not the dog's fault. The problem wasn't that simple bend. More than likely there was an underlying issue with your back, or some irritating activity that you did in the recent past that precipitated this problem. In a "typical" low back disc case, you cannot stand up straight and you may likely be bent to one side. This posture is your body's attempt to reduce the pain and irritation on the nerve. It is an unconscious posture and is not under your voluntary control. You may have seen a medical healthcare provider already, for instance a medical doctor or physical therapist, or even an urgent care or emergency room doctor. They may have given you the correct advice or they may have given you incorrect advice. They may have labeled you with a diagnosis of a disc herniation, a disc prolapse, an inflamed desk, a slipped disc, or sciatica. No matter what your diagnosis, there is help. And by the way, medications are not the help. Medications are merely going to mask the symptoms and create side effects. You may already have been experiencing the side effects if you're taking the medication. And certainly the medications do not get you back to the activities that you love doing.

As a side note, when most people hear a diagnosis includes the word "disc", they immediately jump to the conclusion that they will need surgery. This is not the case 99% of the time. Ninety-nine percent of the time you will heal, either completely, or to the point where you have control of your underlying problem.

Number 1: When I see a typical disc patient in my office, there are number of things that I automatically recommend. One is a lumbar support belt, made of Velcro and elastic. The lumbar support belt should be snug and give you a sense of relief when you put it on. If you do not feel a sense of relief, it is because there is too much inflammation. Only wear it if it feels good and snug, and feels as though it's giving support. You need support while you heal. The belt should be worn, if possible, 24 hours a day, especially when you are sleeping. When we are sleeping we tend to twist and that puts extra stress on the disc. The disc is most susceptible to slow rotations of the hips and lower back. Some people find that they can wear the belt for a few hours and then need to take a rest from it. That's fine. Some people feel that it is more comfortable if they wear the belt over a T-shirt. That is also acceptable.

Number 2: The second recommendation is ice. Ice only. You want a soft flexible icepack so you can fit the icepack between you and the lumbar support belt that you will be wearing. The ice should be used for 20 minutes at a time, optimally once an hour.

Number 3: Avoid sitting. Typically sitting is going to put the most pressure on the disc. So you can stand, you can walk, but avoid excess sitting. Don't go to the movie theater, don't go to a Broadway show, avoid long car drives. And because you'll be putting ice pack between you and the belt, you can easily walk around with the ice pack on you for 20 minutes every hour.  Let pain be your guide with activity. If something hurts, don't do it.

Number 4: Anti-inflammatory supplements are also recommended. I have found that a bioavailable form of turmeric at a high dosage is very effective for decreasing the inflammation of the disc and the surrounding nerve roots. Other anti-inflammatory supplements do not seem to target these tissues as effectively. There are specific over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that are effective but most are ineffective.

Number 5: One of the most important things to remember as you go through your daily life is no "BLT". By this I mean, no Bending, Lifting, or Twisting.  Especially avoid all three at the same time.  No lifting over one pound, so this would mean a gallon of milk is out of the question. Sneezing combines a bend with a twist, so if you sneeze, sneeze right in front of you. Reaching is also an issue. So imagine putting away dishes into an upper cabinet, reaching while vacuuming, and reaching into a dishwasher to unload it. Delegate these chores to someone else.  Laundry seems to be extremely problematic for most people while they are recovering from a lumbar disc problem. You may need to modify your activities, for a minimum of one week and as long as four weeks. This recovery schedule only applies if you're getting the proper Chiropractic care during those weeks. So you must ask for help. Rearrange your schedule so that you will not be sitting in the car for long period, ask for help with household chores, notify your employer that your work duties may be restricted. Failure to avoid problematic activates will delay your recovery significantly and cause you to have relapses.  With that said, even with unavoidable bending, lifting and twisting, for instance the activities of a new mother, a delay in recovery does not mean no recovery. The recovery will just take longer.

Number 6: Chiropractic Decompression Adjustments.  I have worked with thousands of people with disc problems over the last 25 years. The proper treatment is as follows. Decompression adjustments should be performed on the lumbar area using a Cox flexion distraction adjusting table. X-ray analysis and MRI films, along with my exam findings, assist me greatly in pinpointing the exact location to adjust. It is a highly specific adjustment. Some of my patient have had previous care with the automatic decompression tables, and have had some success. For many people the automatic decompression tables are ineffective. This is because the decompression done by an automatic table is generalized. The best pain relief and return of normal activity occurs with a highly specific adjustment. Optimally, the adjustments should be performed five days per week, with a minimum schedule of three days per week.

Number 7: As I mentioned earlier, ice and anti-inflammatory supplements along with the lumbar belt are essential parts of my treatment recommendations. Anti-inflammatory therapies, such as cold laser therapy, will accelerate healing and symptomatic improvement. Massage therapy, on specific deep muscle groups of the lower back may also be essential. There are times when the body has attempted to create its own bracing with severe spasm. This then creates its own set of symptoms and pain. The muscles must be addressed specifically. Relaxation type massage does not work for these muscles; it must be specific deep tissue massage on specific muscle groups.

Number 8: Stretches for severe lower back pain are a part of our treatment recommendation. See videos of those stretches on our YouTube channel.

I have seen hundreds of people avoid surgery that was recommended by a medical doctor with the specific care that I have just outlined. Too many people are never given the option of Chiropractic care from their orthopedist or neurologist or spine specialist. This is a huge disservice to their patients. Every day, seeing my patients improve with Chiropractic care, I am amazed at the inherent healing ability that we all possess, in spite of very ugly MRIs. If this lumbar disc problem is yours, put yourself on your priority list for the next few weeks. If you follow the steps outlined above and you get yourself on a schedule of  specific chiropractic adjustments, you will benefit greatly. Too many people blindly follow a medical doctor's advice, which leads them down the drug and surgery track. And although there are rare instances where surgery is absolutely necessary, for the vast majority of cases, it is not. You must seek outside of the medical system to find true healing. If you seek a medical doctor's advice for this problem they will only offer the tools that they have in their tool bag. Those tools are drugs and surgery. Take back the power and knowledge of your health by seeking outside the medical system. There is a world of opportunity of health and healing, but you must seek it out.


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