Tag Archives: pain

Hand Pain and Herniated Disc in The Neck

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Is it Really CTS?

We have been providing treatment for hand pain in San Francisco for over 22 years now. 

Hand pain is very common in people that spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk in front of a computer…like most of our patients.

When it comes to hand pain treatment the source of the pain is not always in the hand. In fact, more often than not the source of the arm or hand pain is from pinched nerves in the neck. That’s right, pinched nerves in the neck can cause the same type of hand pain that pinched nerves in the hand or wrist can cause (carpal tunnel syndrome).

This is why it’s so important for a doctor to examine the neck to the finger tips when a patient presents with carpal tunnel symptoms such as hand pain.

The primary cause of pinched nerves in the neck is a herniated or bulging cervical disc.

Chiropractors have great success treating pinched nerves in the neck with adjustments, massage, exercise and other non-invasive treatments such as deep tissue laser and Active Release Techniques (ART).

In the unlikely event that chiropractic fails to deliver desired results for hand pain due to a herniated disc, then nonsurgical cervical decompression is considered for the neck.

At our clinic we will often incorporate cervical decompression with the DRX9000c and chiropractic adjustments. This can work extremely well.

We also have a medical team and physical therapy team for difficult cases.

So, if you are suffering with neck, arm, shoulder, elbow, or hand pain, you should probably visit a chiropractor that has expertise in CTS treatment and repetitive stress injuries. And if they have a cervical spinal decompression machine that’s even better.

To find out if you are a candidate for hand pain treatment in San Francisco please call 415-392-2225. Mention this blog post for a complimentary consultation. 

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Arm Pain Causes and Cures

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The Neck and Arm Pain Connection

We have been providing natural solutions for neck, arm and hand pain in San Francisco for over 20 years in the Financial District.

Arm Pain has many causes from repetitive strain injuries (RSI) to herniated and bulging discs in the neck. If you are someone that spends the majority of your day at a desk in front of a computer (like most of our patients) yo are prone to abnormal wear and tear on the cervical spine (neck), shoulders, arms and hands.

If you have poor posture. either from hereditary predisposition or acquired from poor sleeping habits, ergonomics or injury, you are prone to disc bulges and disc herniations which can lead to pinched nerves in the neck. Pinched nerves in the neck is a primary cause of arm pain.

Arm pain usually presents with either hand pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, numbness in the hands, weakness of grip, or night pain. Arm pain can also present as a stand alone symptom.

The cures for arm pain vary depending on the cause. One thing you should know. Rarely is the cause a “Motrin” deficiency.  When you take a pain killer for arm pain or any type of pain, all you are doing is masking the problem. Pain is a symptom not a condition.

Chiropractic is probably your best bet for arm pain. A chiropractor can examine you to uncover the cause of the arm pain and provide drug-less, nonsurgical solutions on the spot like chiropractic adjustments, massage, ice, and deep tissue laser therapy.

If your arm pain is from a herniated or bulging disc in the neck, then a chiropractor may use nonsurgical spinal decompression to the cervical spine. The machine we use is the DRX9000c. Spinal decompression machines are designed and built to treat disc bulges, herniations and spinal stenosis naturally.

If you have arm pain and would like to find out if you are a candidate for care please call 415-392-2225 and ask for a complimentary consultation. Go here for more info on arm pain treatment in San Francisco.

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Low Back Pain? Things Not To Do

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Low Back Pain


Here is a partial list of things “Not To Do” if you have low back pain or sciatica:

STAY STILL: You’ve heard, “…don’t do that – you’ll get a bad back!” There is something to be said about being careful, but one can be too cautious as well. In order to determine how much activity vs. rest is appropriate, you have to gradually increase your activities by keeping track of how you feel both during and after an activity. If you do notice pain, it may be “safe” to continue depending on the type and intensity of the pain. In general, a sharp, knife-like pain is a warning sign that you should STOP what you’re doing, while an ache is not. Until you’re comfortable about which type of pain is “safe,” start out with the premise, “…if in doubt, stop.” If the recovery time is short (within minutes to hours), then no “harm” was done. If it takes days to recover, you overdid it. Think of a cut on your skin – if you pick at it too soon, it will re-bleed, but if you are careful, you can do a lot of things safely without “re-bleeding.” Talk to us about the proper way to bend, lift, pull, push, and perform any activity that you frequently have to do that often presents problems. There is usually a way to do that activity more safely!


SURGERY IS A “QUICK FIX”: Though in some cases this may inevitably be the end result for your back condition, most of the time, it is not needed. As a rule, don’t jump to a surgical option too soon. It’s tempting to view surgery as a “quick fix,” but non-surgical care at least for 4-6 weeks and maybe several months is usually the best approach. As the old saying goes, you can’t “un-do” a surgery, so wait. UNLESS there are certain warning signs such as: a) bowel or bladder weakness &/or, b) progressive neurological losses (worsening weakness in the leg). If there are no “surgical indicators” meaning, no instability, no radiating leg pain, and only low back pain that is non-specific and hard to isolate what is generating the pain, DO NOT have surgery as the chances of improvement following surgery drops off dramatically in this group. There are guidelines that we all should follow and they all support non-surgical care initially for 4-6 weeks. Chiropractic is one of the best options cited in these guidelines because it’s less costly, involves less time lost from work, and chiropractic carries the highest patient satisfaction. If chiropractic fails to deliver then there is nonsurgical spinal decompression with the DRX9000.


DON’T STRETCH – IT’S HARMFUL: You may have heard or read that stretching can actually increase or worsen your time if you’re a runner, reduce your ability to lift heavy weight (if you’re a weight lifter), or cycle as fast.  Though this seems obviously silly, there IS a growing body of evidence that has found this TO BE TRUE! HOWEVER, it appears (at least at present), that is applies primarily to static, long hold stretching and NOT to dynamic exercising like jumping jacks, toy-soldier like high kicks, or core stabilization. Moreover, no study YET has found a negative effect for non-athletic competitive activities or for low back pain specifically. A good general rule is, if you feel better after exercising, or in this case stretching, it’s probably better for you than not. Also, as stated last month, there is a “right vs. wrong” time to exercise and WAY to exercise. For example, when LBP occurs in flexion but reduces in extension, there is plenty of evidence published that performing exercises INTO the direction of pain relief is VERY helpful. So until you hear differently, KEEP ON STRETCHING, but follow our advice!  


            We realize you have a choice in who you choose to provide your healthcare services.  If you, a friend or family member requires care for low back pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

To schedule a complimentary consultation for low back pain relief in San Francisco call 415-392-2225. Mention this blog post.

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Leg Numbness with No Back Pain?

Have you been experiencing leg numbness or tingling in the leg or legs but you have no back pain? Well, you are not alone as this is a very common finding and symptom of a herniated disc in the low back. This is actually a form of Sciatica.

That’s right…it’s possible to have pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg but have no back pain. The reason for this is that the nerves that exit from the lumbar spine travel down the leg to the foot and carry nerve impulses and chemicals that are responsible for motor (movement) and sensory (what you feel) functions. Any kind of pressure on these nerves from a herniated or bulging lumbar disc and you can feel numbness, pins and needles, hot and cold, or burning sensations.

If the leg numbness in your leg/s persists you should visit a chiropractor or orthopedic doctor to be evaluated for possible lumbar disc pathology.

If you are diagnosed with a herniated disc you should not rush to have back surgery even though it may be recommended as a primary option. The reason for this is that we now know ruptured spinal discs can heal on their own with a little help from a chiropractor or a nonsurgical spinal decompression machine like the DRX9000.

Sure, there are rare situations where surgery is the only option but they are far and few in between. Most of the time it makes sense to try non invasive treatments for herniated disc repair first. And in my experience favorable outcomes are achieved more often than not.

So…if you are experiencing numbness or tingling in the legs (sciatica) and you want to find out if you have a herniated disc make an appointment to see a chiropractor ASAP.

If you live or work or plan on visiting San Francisco in the near future you can come see us.

To schedule an appointment with one of our Spinal Decompression Doctors in San Francisco call 415-392-2225. Mention this blog post for a complimentary consultation. We validate parking at the Embarcadero Center where we are located.

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Neck Pain and Cervical Disk Herniation

 

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DRX9000c Cervical Decompression

We have been providing nonsurgical treatment for herniated disks (also spelled herniated disc with a c) for over 21 years. We currently incorporate cervical spinal decompression with the DRX9000c into our treatment protocols and have had great success with the most difficult of cases. 

Neck pain can arise from many sources. There are ligaments that hold bones to other bones that are non-elastic and very strong. When injured, the term, “sprain” is applied. The muscle and/or its attachment (the tendon) can tear as well, which is called a “strain.” But, what is it that people refer to when they say, “…I slipped a disk in my neck!”?

           

The disks lay between the vertebrae in the front of the spine, and they are part of the primary support and shock absorbing system of our neck and back. There are 6 disks in the neck, 12 in the mid-back and 5 in the low back for a total of 23. The disks in the low back are big, like the vertebral bodies they lie between, and get progressively smaller as they go up the spine towards the head. When we bend our neck forwards, the disk compresses, and opens wider when we look up. It forms a wedge shape when we side bend left or right, and it twists when we rotate or turn the head.

           

The terms, “…a slipped disk, a herniated disk, a ruptured disk, a bulging disk” (and more), all mean something similar, if not exactly the same thing. A central part of the disk is liquid-like and can herniate in any direction. When it does, it can create pain IF it pinches something, or it may be painless if it doesn’t. In fact, since the invention of the CAT scan and MRI, many (“normal”) people have been found  on the scan to have some type of disk “derangement” (alteration of the normal integrity of the disk), with 50%+ showing bulging disk(s) and 21% showing frank herniations WITH NO PAIN AT ALL! So, in the absence of shooting pain down an arm from the neck, or when there is no numbness or weakness in the arm, why order an MRI? It may show bulges or herniations that are not “clinically” important, and may falsely lead a doctor to recommend surgery when it’s not needed.

           

There are “KEY” findings in the history and examination that leads us to the diagnosis of a cervical disk injury. From the history, the disk patient often has arm pain, numbness, and/or muscle weakness that follows a specific pathway, such as numbness to the thumb/index finger (C6 nerve), middle of the hand & 3rd finger (C7) or to the pinky & ring finger (C8). Certain positions, such as looking up, usually irritate the neck and arm, and bending the head forward relieves it. Another unique history and exam finding is if the patient finds relief by putting the arm up and over their head. Similarly, letting the arm hang down is often associated with irritation. Other examination findings unique to a cervical disk injury include reproducing the arm pain by placing the head in certain positions such as bending the head back and to the side simultaneously. Another is compressing the head into the shoulders. When lifting up on the head (traction), relief of arm pain is common. The neurological exam will usually show a reduction of sensation when we gently poke them with a sharp object, and/or they may have weakness when compared to the opposite side.

Often times, patients will present to our San Francisco Back and Neck Pain Center with carpal tunnel like symptoms without neck pain. They end up with a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) when the true cause is a herniated disk in the neck Or, they may have both CTS and a herniated disk in the neck. This is called “Double Crush Syndrome” and is a common diagnosis at our clinic.

           

Chiropractic treatments can be very successful in resolving cervical disk herniation signs and symptoms, and should CERTAINLY be tried before agreeing to a surgical correction. Often, the surgeon will recommend a fusion of 2 or more neck vertebrae, sometimes with a metal plate in the front of the spine. This increases the load on either side of the fusion and can create problems above and below the fusion leading to more surgery down the road.  Trust me, try chiropractic first or cervical decompression with the DRX9000c first. You’ll be glad you did!

           

We realize that you have a choice in where you choose your health-care services.  If you, a friend or family member requires care for neck pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

To schedule a complimentary consultation for cervical herniated disk treatment in San Francisco please call 415-392-2225.

 

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Low Back Pain Travel Tips

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Low Back Pain Travel Tips

Low back pain (LBP) is a common complaint when it comes to traveling, whether it’s in a car, bus, train or airplane. Traveling is hard on our joints, muscles and nerves for many reasons. Traveling requires us to do something our bodies are not used to, such as prolonged sitting in a cramped area. Remember the last time you had the middle seat on a plane? Also, unless you have a very unique exercise routine, injuries commonly occur from hoisting carry-ons into overhead bins or yanking them off the baggage claim belt. This month’s article will offer tips about traveling and things you can do to minimize risk of irritating or creating LBP. Bon voyage!

Luggage Wisdom

Lifting (in preferential order of lowering the risk of LBP injury):

a)      Ask for help if you know your carry-on is too heavy for you to place into the overhead bin safely. There are many kind co-travelers who will jump at the chance to facilitate (especially if you ask them nicely). If that fails, most flight attendants will be happy to help if they know you are struggling with LBP (be honest with yourself; now is NOT the time to be in denial of your back issue!)

b)      When it is possible, try to ship your heavy items ahead of time. It’s not only good for your back, but it’s often cheaper than the cost many airlines charge per bag! If you do this, all you need is a small carry-on that can easily fit under the seat in front of you.

c)      Why NOT simply check a bag, especially heavy items? You still have to be careful removing it from the luggage carousel, but again, ASK FOR HELP!

d)      Try a backpack. It sure beats slinging a heavy briefcase over only one shoulder, which should be reserved for a light hand bag only.

e)      If no one comes to help, and you end up having to complete this often unpleasant task yourself, think before you lift. Break the lift into small movements or actions. For example, when placing your carry-on into an overhead bin, keep the luggage close to your body since the farther away from your body you hold the bag, the heavier it becomes to your lower back (up to 10x the load!). Try this method: 1st lift the bag to the arm of the seat that lies below the overhead bin; next lift it to the top of the seat back top; and then (the hard part), squat down, arch your low back, grip the bag, and in a smooth continuous movement, raise the bag up and onto the edge of the overhead bin. At that point, wiggle it in the rest of the way. Another important point about lifting is to try to avoid twisting, ESPECIALLY if combined with bending. A bend / twist combination is often the cause of a low back injury. Try to pivot your feet to move your body to avoid your back from twisting.

            There are MANY other traveling tips that we have not yet discussed. Look forward to next month’s Health Update for LBP for more!

            We realize you have a choice in who you choose to provide your healthcare services.  If you, a friend or family member requires care for low back pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

To schedule an appointment for low back pain treatment in San Francisco call 415-392-2225.

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Traction: Does It Help Neck Pain and Headaches?

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DRX9000c Cervical Decompression

We have been providing neck pain treatment in San Francisco for over 20 years now. We have incorporated cervical traction and now nonsurgical spinal decompression  with the DRX9000c.

Traction is defined as, “…the act of pulling a body part.” Therefore, it is commonly used in many regions including legs, arms, low back, mid-back, and the neck. We will be limiting this discussion to cervical or neck traction, and the question of the month is, “…does it help patients with neck pain and headaches?” Though I’m assuming you already know, the answer is YES! You may want a little “proof,” so here it goes!

  1. REDUCES DISK PROTRUSIONS: In 2002, a medically based study found traction to be very effective in the treatment of cervical radiculopathies (pinched nerves in the neck that radiate pain into the arms). A 2008 study using MRI (images) described the effect traction had on the disk protrusions in the neck reporting 25 of 35 (or 71%) were reduced while in traction with a 19% increase in the spacing (disk height) and improved neck range of motion after the traction was applied. They postulated that by pulling the vertebrae in the neck apart, there was a suction-like effect pulling the disk material back in place.
  1. RECOMMENDED BY GUIDELINES: Around the world, guidelines have been published giving doctors information that allows us to know how well certain forms of treatment work for different conditions. In a 2008 publication, it was reported that, “Clinicians should consider the use of mechanical intermittent cervical traction, combined with other interventions such as manual therapy and strengthening exercises, for reducing pain and disability in patients with neck and neck-related arm pain.”
  1. CLINICAL PREDICTION RULES: These help us determine who is most likely to benefit from a certain type of treatment (in this case cervical traction and exercise). If 3 of 5 variables are found, the likelihood of success with traction & exercise was reported to be 79%, and if 4 of the 5 are found, 90%. The 5 variables are: 1. Radiating neck to arm pain in certain positions; 2. Positive shoulder abduction sign; 3. Age >55years old; 4. Positive limb tension test; 5. Relief of symptoms using manual distraction test (if pain is relieved while the neck is being pulled).
  1. INTERMITTENT AND CONTINUOUS TRACTION: Either way, significant improvement in neck and arm pain, neck mobility, and nerve function occurred with both approaches.
  1. TRACTION VS. SURGERY: In this study, patients with radiating arm pain and positive neurological findings on exam were offered a course of traction before surgical options. They reported 63 of 81, or 78%, of the patients experienced significant or total relief, 3 could not tolerate traction and 15 simply didn’t respond. They concluded that when neck and arm symptoms with neurological deficits were present for 6 weeks, that 75% will respond to neck traction over the next 6 weeks.

            There are MANY additional studies available that show well beyond doubt that cervical traction is a GREAT option in the management of neck and arm pain and sometimes headaches. Next month, we will discuss “HOW TO” apply cervical traction.

            We realize that you have a choice in where you choose your healthcare services.  If you, a friend or family member requires care for neck pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

To schedule an appointment with one of our San Francisco Spinal Decompression Doctors call 415-392-2225.

 

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Low Back Pain and Balance

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Low Back Pain

We have been providing treatment for low back pain and sciatica in downtown San Francisco since 1992.

Statistically, most people (estimated to be about 90%) will seek care for Low Back Pain (LBP) at some point in their lifetime. Last month, we discussed the role foot orthotics play in the management of LBP by improving balance, and it seems appropriate to discuss other ways we can improve our balance, hence the topic this month!

            Balance is a skill that is learned as we develop. Initially, as infants, we have not developed the “neuromotor pathways” or, sequence of signals between the brain and our toes, feet, ankles, knees, hips, and so on. The constant flow of sensory information received and processed by the brain prompts motor messages to be sent back to our limbs and allows us to move in a progressively more coordinated manner as we develop. This natural progression of developing motor control starts with crude, rather uncontrolled movement of the fingers, hands, arms, legs, and feet, and soon, we learn to hold up our head, scoot, roll over, crawl, stand, and eventually walk (usually during the first 12 months of life). The learning process of recognizing sounds, voice quality and inflections, and words occurs simultaneously. This bombardment of sensory information to the brain leads to the ability to gradually perform highly integrated functions including walking, running, jumping, and dancing. As part of that learning process, falling frequently occurs. We all recall the challenges of learning how to ride a bike, swim, do a somersault, climb a tree, swing, dance, do gymnastics, ski, and on and on. As time passes and we enter middle age, we become more sedentary. As a result, we start losing our “proprioceptive edge” and become less steady, leading to more frequent balance loss and falls. Eventually, we have to hold on to hand railings or the wall in order to keep our balance and falling occurs more frequently. Couple this gradual loss of balance with bone demineralization (osteoporosis) and the risk of a fracture, such as a hip or vertebra, increases as well.

            So the question arises, what can we do to slow down this process and maybe even reverse it? The answer is, A LOT!!! Just like muscles shrink and atrophy if they are not used, so does our ability to maintain our balance. We have to keep challenging our balance in order to keep those neuromotor pathways open. That need doesn’t stop after childhood, and in fact, becomes more important as we age. Last month, we talked about the “normal” length of time people can stand on one foot with the eyes open verses closed. If you tried the test, do you remember the steadiness difference? This “test” can be used at various time intervals, such as once a month, as you add balance challenging exercises to your daily routine. Frequently, people will find that within the first 2-4 weeks, they will feel more “sure” or secure on their feet, and even may not feel the need for a cane, or they’ll reach out less often for a hand rail. Start with simple exercises like standing with your feet together and hold that position for progressively longer times (eyes open and closed). We will continue this discussion next month with more balance stimulating exercises.

            We realize you have a choice in who you choose to provide your healthcare services.  If you, a friend or family member requires care for low back pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

To schedule an appointment for low back pain treatment in San Francisco call 415-392-2225. Providing chiropractic and spinal decompression therapy since 1992.

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Spinal Decompression Therapy for Multi-Level Disc Herniations

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DRX9000 Lumbar Decompression

We have been providing spinal decompression therapy in San Francisco for 9 years now.  The most common symptoms we treat are low back pain, neck pain, sciatica, numbness and tingling, due to herniated or bulging discs in the low back and neck. During this time we have performed almost 20,000 spinal decompression treatments on the DRX9000, the disc decompression system we introduced to San Francisco.

It is not uncommon for prospective spinal decompression patients to present with disc herniations or disc bulges at multiple spinal levels. What happens is, the spine tries to adapt to the first herniation and it just becomes too much for the other spinal discs to handle, and over time they break down and herniate.All the discs are connected and are part of your spinal structure. This becomes a problem when you present to an orthpedic surgeon because they often times have trouble pin pointing which disc is the primary source of the pain and dysfunction. Heck…if you have say three spinal levels of disc herniations, whet are they going to do, operate on all of them? Maybe…but I would not do this if it were me.

This is one of the reasons nonsurgical spinal decompression makes so much sense for multi-level disc herniations. First of all the treatment is drug-less and does not involve surgery. Nothing is cut out. If you remove part of a spinal disc you remove part of your spinal structure. This can make the problem even worse…because the other parts of the spine have to compensate for the loss of structure by absorbing more stresses, predisposing them to disc degeneration, bulges and herniations.

Decompression machines such as the DRX9000 are able to isolate on specific disc herniations one at a time and seek to repair them naturally.

Disc decompression therapy elongates the spine, enlarges the disc space, re-positions the injured disc, rehydrates the disc, strengthens the spinal ligaments, and helps replace the surrounding scar tissue with healthier, more pliable, more normally functioning muscle tissue.

More often than not, patients that present with symptoms such as severe low back pain, sciatica, numbness, tingling, night pain, and many of the other symptoms associated with lumbar and cervical disc bulges and herniations, achieve favorable outcomes and ovoid risky surgery.

Does spinal decompression work every time? NO…just most of the time.

But here’s the deal…If spinal disc decompression fails to deliver results you are still whole and can explore other options. If you have surgery…especially multi-level disc surgery and fusion, you will never be able to try spinal decompression…you will be permanently disqualified. OUCH!

My Advice: Try spinal decompression first. The worse thing that can happen (in the unlikely event that spinal decompression fails to deliver) is you will be out some time and money. But you will still be whole and can explore other treatment options.

To schedule an appointment at our San Francisco Spinal Decompression Clinic please call 415-392-2225. Mention this blog post for a complimentary consultation.

 Serving local 94111 for over 20 years

 

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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Low Back Pain and Foot Orthotics

foot orthotics san franciscoLow back pain (LBP) can result from many causes, and sometimes it just occurs for reasons that are not clear, such as the accumulation of stresses that occur over time. Many causes of low back pain have been described such as bending over “wrong,” combined bending and twisting, lifting, over reaching, climbing, sitting too long, repetitious activities at home or work, sports injuries, being out of shape, and so on. But what about balance? Because poor balance leads to falling, which is the #1 cause of injuries in the elderly, ANYTHING that we can do to improve our balance should help prevent falls and hence low back injuries. Let’s look at strategies to improve our balance.

            First, let’s measure our ability to balance by using a simple test you can do yourself. Stand on one leg in the corner of a room or in a doorway where you can easily grab onto something if you feel like you’re going to fall. Try to do this without holding on to anything, first with your eyes open and a second time with your eyes closed. If you have a stopwatch, click it when you start and stop (when you put your foot down). Otherwise, count, “…1001, 1002, 1003, etc.” Studies have shown that for those under 60 years old, you’re “normal” if you can balance on one leg with your eyes open for 30 seconds and 25 seconds with your eyes closed. Between ages 60-69, normal is 23 sec. (eyes open) and 10 sec. (eyes closed) is normal. If you’re 70-79 years old, normal is 14 seconds (eyes open) and 4 seconds (eyes closed). Give it a try! Notice how “normal” drops as we age. From 25 sec. to 4 sec. between age 59 and 70 is pretty dramatic! No wonder falling is so common among the elderly!

            So, now that you’ve tested yourself, I’m guessing you aren’t too impressed with your balance skills. The question now is, how can we improve our balance? Performing balance exercises with a rocker, wobble board or cushion is VERY EFFECTIVE! You’ll be surprised that if you use this for 10 minutes a day, the improvement in balance is significant in just 2 weeks. Another method takes no effort at all on your part, and that is the use of custom made foot orthotics. Simply known as arch supports, foot orthotics (the good “prescription” kind) correct the rolling in or out of the heel bone, referred to as pronation (rolling in = most common) or supination (rolling out) by wedging the heel of the orthotic/arch support. This stabilizes the ankle joint, reduces the inward or outward shift at the knee and hip joints, and as a result, improves our balance.

            Results of a recent study proved this to be the case. Researchers studied 13 subjects over 65 years of age who reported at least 1 unexpected fall in the past 12 months and measured their balance skills using a similar test as the one you just tried as well as 3 other tests (tandem stance, tandem gait, and alternating step tests) twice before and twice after starting use of custom foot orthotic intervention (immediately after and 2 weeks later). In each of the 4 balance tests, improvement was statistically significant in the post-tests and 2-week later follow-up tests PROVING that balance is effectively improved when wearing custom made foot orthotics. We recommend doing BOTH the exercises and the use of custom foot orthotics to obtain even better results. Since falling is such a common occurrence at any age, especially in those over 60-65 years old, these simple strategies seem like a “no-brainer” to implement into a treatment program, especially for people with poor bone density at high risk for fractures.

            We realize you have a choice in who you choose to provide your healthcare services.  If you, a friend or family member requires care for low back pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.

To schedule an appointment for low back pain treatment in San Francisco call 415-392-2225

Scott Calzaretta

Chiro-Medical Group is an innovative collaboration of health care professionals who work together as a team to promote optimal health. Our group includes experts in the fields of medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, nutrition, and personal athletic training.

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