Back Pain Q&A

Question:  I had an MRI & was told that have a ruptured disc (L4/L5) (L5/LS).  I am to see a neurologist later this month. is surgery neccesary?  I am a postal worker, so i'm sure it will happen again.

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:   Whether or not you need surgery depends on your symptomatology and your pain tolerance. If the disc isn't affecting the cord or your nerves then there is no urgency for surgery assuming you can deal with whatever pain you have (and the surgery probably won't fix your problem at that point anyway.) If this is the case, normally, the neurosurgeon won't due surgery and will suggest conservative treatment. This includes chiropractic, physical therapy, or some drug such as steroids. If this happens, I would suggest chiropractic to get proper motion restored in your low back (and address the problem that started this in the first place) and rehabilitative exercises to strengthen your back to lessen the chances of reoccurence.

Question:   One year ago I had a spinal tap and bought a new mattress in the same week. I immediately started having very painful back pain. Te neurologist just prescribed pain med and the mattress store wouldn't discuss it. I now see a chiropractor often and get some relief.  Could the spinal tap ave caused my problem and is there any way to fix it?  I'm told I would be used to the mattress by now and it can't still be causing me pain.

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:   First, I would make sure you talk to your chiropractor about this. He/She has a much better understanding of what your history and exam findings are and should be able to give you some further insight.  I have found that several of my patients have trouble in the epidural injection sight and I do beleive some times scar tissue forms around it (this is my theory based on patients, however, I have read no study that confirms this). The only way to know if it is your mattress is to sleep on a different one for several nights and see if the pain gets better.  If it does, then chances are it could be your mattress.

Question:  When I sleep on my stomach or back at night, I wake up with back pain that takes hours to go away.   Also, when I lie flat on my back, it seems to lock and I cannot move and need help to get up and this causes great pain. What could be causing this?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  If this occurs late in the night then you may just need a new mattress and pillow for better support. Otherwise, it may be because your bones in your spine have become misaligned due to repetitive stress or injury. When this happens, it puts additional stress and irritation on your muscles and nerves causing pain and discomfort. Normally, through rest and exercise, you are able to deal with minor misalignments. You are past this point. I would recommend seeing a chiropractor to get this evaluated and fixed.

Question:  Do you have specific exercises for a pinched nerve?  Mine feels like sciatic nerve (which I have had and never want again!) but this is mid-back, left side.  It causes pain at the site and numbness down left arm to hand.

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  There are a bunch of good exercises on the internet.  It doesn't sound like a simple exercise is going to do the trick, though.  I don't know your past history, but usually if the pain doesn't begin to subside within 48 hours there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.  My recommendation would be that if exercising doesn't help in a short period of time, to consult a chiropractor for a possible pinched nerve.

Question:  I have pain in my lower back I can't stand for short periods of time without pain. Bending alot causes alot of pain as well. Most of the time I walk half bent over because i cant stand up straight. when i go to sit down it feels as if something is pushing my spine up. Sometimes in on one side or the other but most of the time its across my whole lower back. What could be the problem? could it be serious?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  There is always the possibility of it being serious.  From your brief description, it sounds like you have a spinal misalignment or subluxation. When this occurs, the bone is "misaligned" and can cause swelling and irritation to the nerve which gives you your pain and stiffness.  It can also cause the bones to feel "jammed" together so your back doesn't feel like it wants to straighten up.  If left uncorrected, it can lead to early arthritic changes in your spine.  The chiropractor can usually help this through gentle spinal adjustments.

Question:  Can chiropractic help leg and feet cramps?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  It certainly can, but it also may depend on what is the primary cause.  The best way to narrow down what may be causing your foot and leg cramps is to be examined by a chiropractor.  They can then give you their recommendation, and if they can't help, they can refer you in the right direction.    

Question:  About 2 years ago I was having trouble in my neck and pain down my right arm and leg.  MRI showed a herniated disc in, I think, c 5&6.  I was told it would not get better without surgery.  I do not have any problems now and I did not have the surgery.  Is the disc still this way?  What happened and could it cause me problems again?  Shortly after, I was diagnosed with Lupus.  Is that connected to the disc problem?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:   Many people do have problems that resolve without having surgery.  The disc can swell and cause problems at any time, but one can never predict when, where or sometimes why.  If it does flare up agains, I would once again encourage you to be patient and see if it does not resolve on its own (before rushing to surgery).  The Lupus may have affected the disc, but at this point all you can do is to stay strong and active.  I have heard people say they have had one flare-up and it never happened again.  Let's hope that will be the same for you!

Question:  I have degenerative disc disease.  I have done everything I can imagine, from Vax-D to going to the Leatherman Back Center in Louisville, KY.  Nothing seems to get rid of the pain.

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:   Have you tried chiropractic yet?  Vax-D is a form of traction and is not your typical chiropractic adjustment.  You have nothing to lose by giving it a try.  The pain will not get any worse and often times chiropractic can help.  Degeneration sets into a joint when it is not moving properly and chiropractic puts motion into those joints, and no, it will not hurt.  If you have tried chiropractic then the only suggestion I can give is to remain as active as possible.  Low impact aerobics such as walking or biking, or swimming can be great.  Stretching on the "fit ball" (huge vinyl ball that can be found at Walmart or Dick's) often will bring some relief.      

Question:  Could you please explain to me what "scoliosis" of the spine is, and what it's effects are?
Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. Simply put, when looking at the spine from behind, it should go straight up and down.  People with scoliosis will have an S shaped curve instead.  There are varying degrees of scoliosis and depending on the severity, the pain can go from none to severe.  In severe cases the bones can actually push and pull on organs causing them to not work properly and surgery is sometimes recommended (this is rare however).  Many people do not even know they have this curvature and the body can compensate surprisingly well.  The most fragile time is when the patient is going through a growth spurt, this can make the curve worse.  Once you get past that point, however, usually the curve will stay about the same.  Most doctors will to follow the progression and many patients get relief with chiropractic.

Question:  What kind of treatment, other then surgery for ruptured disc and pinched nerves?  I have had 5 back surgerys and can't be put to sleep anymore for surgery.  Can you tell me if there's anything else that can be done?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  I don't know if you have tried chiropractic, but there are many techniques available. With your history of surgery, a low force technique that wouldn't interfere with the surgery sites may help quite a bit. However, with all the scar tissue from the surgeries, there isn't going to be an easy fix. If you have more questions, please feel free to email me or call my office for a free consultation.

Question:  We were in a car accident, and my daughter is having pains in the middle of her back. Could this still be from the accident?  It occured on Oct.22. What do you suggest that I should do about this?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  Please go to a chiropractor to get it checked out. The longer you wait the more permanent the damage may be. If the pain was going to resolve on its own, it would have by now. If we cannot help, then I promise that we will refer you to someone who can. I would suggest setting up a free consultation, so that way you and your daughter can meet the doctor and he/she can answer any questions you may have before starting treatment. Please let me know how it goes.

Question:  I have pain under the right shoulder blade but unlike the other question, my pain does not radiate. I just have to lay down, twist from right or left, or have a big pillow to lean against and it subsides right away. I have a big book in my car I lean against. Is this a facet joint, or like you said previously, a vertebrae out of alignment?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  It could be one of three things (most likely). 1. a vertebrae out of alignment  2. a rib out of alignment or  3. a muscle trigger point.  All of the above could subside rather easily, but I think that it is a rib, based on your description. You can do one of two things- you could either live with it (because it sounds as though you can temporarily relieve the pain) or you could get it adjusted and permanently fix the problem. It'll probably get worse as time goes on however. If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me again.

Question:  I have recurring pain under my right shoulder blade that radiates up into my neck and down my arm and into my hand. This has happened 3 times since last Fall. My family doctor says it is a pulled muscle and prescribes heat treatments and muscle relaxers. This helps to a point, but it usually takes 1-3 months to completely subside. Is it possible to reinjure a muscle that often?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  It is possible to reinjure a muscle every 1-3 months, however, it is not likely. It sounds like you are not correcting the problem, just temporarily taking the pain away. If the problem was corrected then you would no longer have the pain. I think that you may have a vertebrae out of alignment that may be pulling on the muscles, causing a spasm to occur. I would suggest having a consultation with a chiropractor to see if you can get help, permanently.

Question:  Sometimes I find myself sleeping on my back and when I try to move it hurts really bad and I have to grab hold of something to turn over. What could be the problem?

Answer from Westside Chiropractic Center:  There could be several things that could cause this pain. More than likely, however, it is probably due to a misaligned bone that is irritating a nerve ending. When you sleep on your back it is putting too much pressure on this area creating the pain. You could try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees to see if it helps.  Otherwise, you probably need to have you back checked to make sure it is not something else.