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Spinal Decompression

Young Scrappy

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A friend of mine has a herniated disc near her neck. The doctor suggested a surgery which fuses 3 problemed discs together. She has a pinched nerve because of the herniation resulting in some numbness. I think there must be a better way than surgery because I've heard all the horror stories. I came across spinal decompression. Is this a scam for chiropractors or is it for real?
 

Stazy

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I severly sprained my ankle about 5 years ago and since then I've re-injured it several times. It got to the point where I could not run on bumpy surfaces like grass fields because I would severly twist my ankle. Basically my ankle lacked stability. After visiting a chiropractor regularily for 1 year, I no longer have any trouble with my ankle.

I know a lot of people are skepitcal of chiropractors, but I've had nothing but good experiences.

Anyway, I would suggest trying non-invasive procedures before going ahead with surgery. It just seems safer in my opinion...
 

auto90403

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Obviously, your friend should seek a second and a third and maybe even a fourth opinion from different kinds of medical experts.

None of whom are likely to be found here at SF.
 

Thomas

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Also recommend second and third opinions, particularly from a chiropractor. I had neck problems from weightlifting (bad form), and my chiro put me straight with manipulation and therapy (a few months' worth). No problems to speak of today.

A colleague of mine visits a chiro regularly for back issues from riding horses. She has other issues that a chiro wouldn't be able to help, but he's the doctor who - according to her - helps her the most.

Be careful when choosing your chiro, though, and proceed with care. There are good and bad out there, and IIRC, the licensing requirements vary from state to state.
 

gamelan

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i'm recovering from surgery to fix a herniated disc between my L5/S1 vertebrae. while i'm sure it's different from a herniated disc in the neck, sometimes, surgery is the only option.

here is some information that may or may not be useful to your friend:

(1) physical therapy is usually the first course of treatment that the doctor will take. most importantly, find a GOOD physical therapist and one that doesn't just regurgitate the book they read about your condition.

(2) i'm not sure how long your friend has had the herniated disc but if she notices any symptoms of weakness or numbness, go see a neurologist!!! you risk permanent damage otherwise.

(3) the general consensus for my herniated disc (again, a little different) was that going to see a chiropractor was a bad idea and for disc herniations in general, it's not a good idea because you're dealing with your nerves here. in fact, in all the reading i did, i never saw a recommendation to see a chiropractor (spinehealth.com, spine-universe.com, etc.). and none of the doctors i saw (and i saw many) recommended a chiropractor.

(4) i went to see an accupuncturist for 6 treatments and it didn't help

(5) have your friend find out what are the proper bio-mechanics to make sure the situation doesn't get any worse

(6) as far as drugs go, Motrin (800mg, 3x/day) helped for about 2 months. after that i was prescribed Mobic (50mg, 1x/day) and that helped for another 2 1/2 months. both of those are anti-inflammatiories. please note that Mobic may be pulled because it has been show to cause heart problems. another option is Celebrex which i've heard good things about. i did need occasional Vicodin to help with the pain. of course, talk to your doc about any medications. heat and ice also helped.

(7) oh, the fusing surgery recommend does seem very aggresive. i got a lumbar lambidectomy which was minimally invasive. wonder if something similar is available for your friend?

beyond that, best of luck to your friend. i know what a herniated disc feels like, and it's freakin' horrible. if you've got any other questions, just let me know. i'd be happy to help in any way i can.

-Jeff
 

Young Scrappy

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Thanks everybody. Ireally appreciate all the help. Jeff, I'll probably have some more questions.
 

Stazy

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I have one more comment I'd like to make. Chiropactors have always been looked down on by medical doctors. As such, it is not suprising that gamelan was advised not to seek chiropractic care.

Estimates of serious complications, arising from chiropractic spinal manipulations, range from 1 in 400,000 to 0 in 5 million manipulations. In comparison, there is a 3-4% rate of complications for cervical spine surgery, and 4,000-10,000 deaths per million neck surgeries.
 

hopkins_student

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The reason physicians don't recommend that patients see chiropractors is not because they think a chiropractor will injure the patient (unless the patient is a child), but because it is not terribly effective. About 90 percent of back pain resolves on its own after six weeks. This is how the majority of chiropractors earn their keep. Someone will come to them with back pain, they'll schedule several manipulations and then in six weeks most patients will feel better. If you'd enjoy a funny story about chiropractors, I've got a good one.

Typically a physician wouldn't recommend surgery unless the patient has associated neurological symptoms. I'd imagine they'd try PT first unless the stenosis is so severe that it will clearly require surgery.
 

caelte

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Originally Posted by hopkins_student
The reason physicians don't recommend that patients see chiropractors is not because they think a chiropractor will injure the patient (unless the patient is a child), but because it is not terribly effective. About 90 percent of back pain resolves on its own after six weeks. This is how the majority of chiropractors earn their keep. Someone will come to them with back pain, they'll schedule several manipulations and then in six weeks most patients will feel better. If you'd enjoy a funny story about chiropractors, I've got a good one.

Typically a physician wouldn't recommend surgery unless the patient has associated neurological symptoms. I'd imagine they'd try PT first unless the stenosis is so severe that it will clearly require surgery.


I had a car accident a few years ago.
My doctor gave me a referral to a chiropractor.
It seemed like quackery to me.
I guess I was in the 10% because over a period of months my back didn't get any better.
Getting to the chiropractor's office was difficult.
After the chiropractor did her stuff,
I walked out of the office with little pain. With continued work, landed up feeling better than I had before the accident.

I did a round of PT as well and that was equally amazing.
I never had any body work done prior to the accident.

Saying that bodywork is not terribly effective flies in the face of experience.

If I had a herniated disc in my neck I'd be reluctant to to let anyone get near it until all possible solutions were exhausted.
 

Britalian

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Originally Posted by Young Scrappy
spinal decompression.

sorry for the flippancy, but it sounds like a bad sequel title to 'Spinal Tap.
 

MCsommerreid

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I agree with the second and third opinions. Find a really good chiropractor, have them take a look at your friend far as the discs them selves go. I'm a fan of chiropractors for chronic problems, but I don't really know how good they'd be in fixing something like a herniated disc with nerve dysfunction. So long as they don't start messing with things getting an opinion from one can't hurt, and it will add information that the orthopedist or neurologist can consider in the treatment options.

If the surgery looks like it's going to be the rout, have a neurologist as well as orthopedist take a look. A pinched nerve causing numbness would be a doozy of a pinch.
 

visionology

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I have two herniated disks in my neck from a car accident. I don't have numbness however but I did see a number of doctors including a neurosurgeon who recommended if numbness did occur an operation as the only effective means of "correcting the problem". When I say that, correcting only fixes the numbness but it leaves permanent stiffness at the point of the surgery. I did make the mistake of going to a chiropractor initially after the accident and was told later that they could have actually make the situation worse. Physical therapy seemed to help the most of anything, I went there for a couple months but I had no health insurance at the time so i had to stop. It taught me excercises to keep the stiffness away to a degree, it still gets bad if I keep my neck still too long. Another test is to hold your arms straight out and put yours above hers. If she is too weak that she cant push up or down this may be another problem as weakness is also a symptom.
 

bachbeet

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I've had the infamous L5-S1 problem for 19 years. I've seen chiropractors and doctors. However, in Feb I had the worst episode ever. Bathing the dogs and lifted one the wrong way. The swelling disc pinched my sciatic nerve and my left leg was extremely painful. Also, 3 of my 5 toes on my left foot went numb. A chiropractor tried his best but it didn't help. Even he suggested an MRI. MRI came back with a badly herniated disc. My doc had me set an appt with another doc (anesthesiologist) for an epidural. After the first one, I felt great relief. After the 2nd one, more relief. And, the 3rd stopped the pain completely. Highly recommended.
 

dhamm

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I would definately say that it would be beneficial to see a chiropractor before surgery. Spinal surgeries do not have the best success rates and obviously yield decreased ranges of motion. Of course it is possible that a chiro will not be able to fix or help the herniation depending on the severity but its worth a shot. Most studies show that with chiro care disc herniations were reduced in size by up to 70%, which in most cases is enough to eliminate the pain. In the past it was true that many MD's look down upon the chiro community but that is changing and there are now successful collaborations between many MDs and DCs.

BTW- If you have any more questions pm me and I may be able to help as I am a first year chiro student.....so yes, my answer is biased
 

cmrocks

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I haven't had good luck with chiropractors. I used to do muay thai kickboxing and was kicked in the neck one class which stretched some of the ligaments along the left hand side of my neck. I tried chiropractic treatment for about 3 months with no luck. After a while, I started going to a physiotherapist instead. He had me hooked up to machines and doing exercises which strengthened my neck muscles to help support my head since the ligaments weren't doing the job as well as before. He told me the chiropractor had made things worse because his adjustments actually further loosened things up in my neck.

Physiotherapy did help but my neck didn't get completely better until I started going to yoga on a regular basis. I started going to yoga to help with my flexibility but I noticed, after a few weeks, that my neck pain was completely gone. I'm a huge believer in what it can do for your body.
 

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