Friday, September 28, 2007

"I Was Told I Having Stenosis. They Said Nothing Can be Done And I've Gotta Live With My Pain!"

What is STENOSIS first of all? Stenosis is a closure of the hole or holes in the back of the spine where nerve roots branch off of your spinal cord. More specifically this is called neural foraminal stenosis. Those exit holes are called your neural foramen. You can also have spinal stenosis which typically means you have closure or shrinking of the canal in the back of the spine that the spinal cord travels down. This canal is from the brain down to your lower body.

So what happens and what creates this "stenosis"? Arthritis (in other s degeneration) takes place usually in the discs and endplates of the vertebrae. When the disc flattens and bulges (aka degenerates) then #1 - that bulge can literally fill up those canals meaning your neaural canals and or your spinal canal.
#2 - the bones start to break down creating rigid/ jagged edges and spurring (bone spurs) that also put pressure on nerves and contributes to shrinking the neural foramen or spinal canal. Remember the disc acts as a spacer creating the gap or hole nerves travel out of. Once the disc flattens from a disc breakdown or herniation then you will lose the full opening in that foramen that should be there.

Facet degeneration and ligament hypertophy or inflammation also work to create pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.

So basically if the disc can be rehydrated and reheightened, and bulges and herniations can be pulled back into place, it can open these holes back up relieving nerve pressure and preventing more degeneration and arthritis to take place.

Great news, this is what Spinal Decompression does. Before Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression most patients were simply sent to physical therapy and given meds or pain shots. If this didn't work they were recommended surgery. Now we have an extra option for care of stenosis. No more just living with the pain!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How does Chropractic care help a disc herniation?

The the goal of chiropractic treatment is to put the spine in alignment. When the spine is in the normal, healthy alignment it holds the disc into place better. The adjustment helps take pressure of the nerves and restore motion back to the affected joints. Putting motion back and taking pressure off the nerves restores the function of the area. Fluid can be absorbed and released properly, nutrients can as well, waste material can be released, and inflammation will go down.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Valuable tool in diagnosing Lumbar Disc Herniations: MRI's

One of the ways to determine if a patient has a disc herniation is with an x-ray- specifically a lumbar MRI will pin point exactly the nerve root responsible for the pain down your leg. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and it a very telling tool when it comes to looking at disc herniations. When looking at a lumbar spine MRI we can assess if the intervertebral disk spaces are of normal height, and the disks do not project past the posterior surface of the vertebral bodies in any segment. Here is a normal Lumbar MRI:

The patient lies inside a large, cylinder-shaped magnet. Radio waves 10,000 to 30,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of the earth are then sent through the body. This affects the body's atoms, forcing the nuclei into a different position. As they move back into place they send out radio waves of their own. The scanner picks up these signals and a computer turns them into a picture. These pictures are based on the location and strength of the incoming signals.

Our body consists mainly of water, and water contains hydrogen atoms. For this reason, the nucleus of the hydrogen atom is often used to create an MRI scan in the manner described above

History Of MRI
It was on July 3, 1977 that the first MRI exam was ever performed on a human being.

It took almost five hours to produce one image. The images were, by today's standards, quite ugly. Dr. Raymond Damadian, a physician and scientist, along with colleagues Dr. Larry Minkoff and Dr. Michael Goldsmith, labored tirelessly for seven long years to reach this point. They named their original machine "Indomitable" to capture the spirit of their struggle to do what many said could not be done.

This machine is now in the Smithsonian Institution. As late as 1982, there were but a handful of MRI scanners in the entire United States. Today there are thousands. We can image in seconds what used to take hours.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What is a Herniated Disc?

A Herniated Disc or Disc Protrusion or Extrusion or Prolapse or Slipped disc all essentially mean the same thing. Part of the disc has pushed out possibly putting pressure on a nerve or creates inflammation that is putting pressure on a nerve.

Technically speaking the diference between a Disc bulge and a disc herniation is that a disc hernation involves the inner part of the disc breaking out through the outer layers.

The disc is made up of an inner gel like part called the nucleus and an outer more cartilaginous section called the annulus. So a bulge is when that annulus is pushing outward or “bulging” outward but the border is not broken. A herniating disc, that inner material actually breaks through the annulus to the outside. A common analogy is a jelly donut – the nucleus is the jelly and the annulus is the rest of the donut. If you squeeze the donut the jeely pushes toward one side bulging the donut on that side. “a bulged disc” When you squeeze that donut and the jelly comes out that’s your disc “herniation”. Either a disc bulge or herniated disc can put pressure on a nerve. Typically a herniation creates more pressure but not always.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is low back/buttocks and leg pain. Basically your sciatic nerve is formed form nerve roots in the lower spine that come together to create the sciatic nerve. This nerve travels down the legs giving off multiple branches which supply and control our legs, knees, ankles, feet, etc…
The sciatic nerve exits out an area in the buttocks next to the piriformis muscle which is why people with sciatica can often have pain in the buttocks region. It then travels down the leg. Depending exactly on the severity of pressure and what nerve fibers are effected one may have pain in the leg but often can get other symptoms such as burning, numbness and tingling, or even weakness.


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