4 Nonsurgical Treatments for Spinal Pain

Back pain is so common that about 80% of people develop it at some point during their lifetime. The pain may present as anything from a dull, constant achiness to a sudden, stabbing pain that shoots from the back into an extremity.

Acute back pain starts suddenly, usually due to an injury, and it can last for a few weeks. If it continues for more than three months, it becomes chronic.

Many people automatically think of surgery when it comes to treating back or neck pain. However, at Santa Cruz Osteopathic in Capitola, California, physical medicine specialist Dr. Richard Bernstein and his team offer innovative nonsurgical spinal treatments that bring lasting pain relief. Here, they discuss four nonsurgical treatments that can help you become pain-free.

A bit about your spine

Your spine is your backbone, extending from the base of your skull to your tailbone. In the adult spine, 24 vertebrae form the column, all held together by small, bony protuberances called facet joints.

Between each pair of vertebrae are intervertebral discs whose function is to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other, as well as absorb the shock of movement and allow you to bend, flex, and twist.

As with your other joints, the vertebrae become subject to wear-and-tear problems as you age, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. When bone rubs against bone, the friction may cause spurs to develop that can reach into the canal and impinge upon nerve roots, causing radiating pain and/or spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal column that crowds and compresses nerves.

In addition, the discs lose moisture over time, flattening out and/or herniating. When a disc herniates, the inner, gel-like disc material can ooze into the spinal column, pressing painfully against the nerve roots.

4 nonsurgical treatments for spinal pain

While in certain cases, such as a cracked vertebra or ruptured disc, surgery may be required to fix the problem, most back and neck issues can be treated with nonsurgical techniques instead.

Surgery is, by nature, invasive, even for a minimally invasive procedure, and it has risks:

As a physiatrist and physical medicine physician, Dr. Bernstein relies on holistic techniques to activate and enhance your body’s innate potential for self-healing. These techniques are noninvasive, or only minimally invasive, and include:

1. Osteopathic manual medicine (OMM)

OMM involves hands-on body manipulation. Dr. Bernstein uses stretching, minor pressure, and resistance to encourage healing, recover range of motion, and build up strength. OMM, in combination with other holistic treatments, makes for whole-body wellness.

2. Regenerative medicine

Mesenchymal stem cells are “blank slate” cells. When introduced at the treatment site, they can morph into whatever tissue is needed. Stem cells boost the cellular regeneration rate, helping repair damaged tissues with reduced recovery time and less inflammation than with a surgical procedure.

3. Spinal decompression therapy

When spinal pain is caused by degenerative disc disease, bulging or herniated discs, or radiculopathy (radiating pain) such as sciatica, Dr. Bernstein uses the SpineMED® spinal decompression platform, a powerful noninvasive treatment. 

SpineMED is a computerized system that gently but precisely pulls the vertebrae apart in the cervical (neck) or lumbar (lower back) region, relieving pressure on the affected spinal nerves. This decreases pain and encourages the body to heal itself.

4. Therapeutic exercise

Dr. Bernstein uses a therapeutic exercise regimen akin to physical therapy to improve your strength and function while avoiding reinjury. 

If you’re dealing with spinal pain but don’t want to go under the knife, you don’t have to; Santa Cruz Osteopathic can help. Call us at 831-464-1605 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bernstein or book online with us today.

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