4 Nonsurgical Treatments that Provide Care for Your Spine


Back pain is common; about 8 out of 10 people develop it at one point or another. The pain may be anything from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that shoots from the back or neck down your leg or arm, respectively.

Acute back pain comes on suddenly, is usually due to an injury, and can last up to a few weeks. If the pain continues more than three months post-injury, it becomes a chronic condition.

Many people automatically think of “surgery” when it comes to back or neck pain, but at Santa Cruz Osteopathic, Dr. Richard Bernstein and his team offer innovative nonsurgical spinal treatments to their patients in Capitola, California, that bring lasting pain relief. Here they explain four of these treatments that can help you become pain-free.

A bit about your spine

The adult spine contains 24 vertebrae stacked in a column from the base of the skull to the tailbone, all held together by small, bony protuberances called facet joints. Between each vertebra are intervertebral discs — cushiony “pillows” that prevent the bones from rubbing against each other, absorb the shock of movement, and allow you to bend, flex, and twist.

As you age, the vertebrae become subject to wear-and-tear problems like osteoarthritis, just like your other joints. You may also develop bony spurs that can impinge upon nerve roots, cause radiating pain, and/or spinal stenosis — a spinal column narrowing that crowds and compresses nerves.

In addition, the discs tend to lose moisture over time, flattening out and even rupturing — a herniated disc. With herniation, the inner, gel-like disc material (nucleus) can spill into the spinal column, pressing painfully against the nerve roots.

4 nonsurgical treatments that provide care for your spine

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

Surgery is, by nature, invasive, even for an arthroscopic procedure, and it carries several risks:

Dr. Bernstein, though, relies on holistic techniques that enhance and activate your body’s innate potential for self-healing. At most, these techniques are only minimally invasive, though most are completely noninvasive. They include:

1. Osteopathic manual medicine (OMM)

OMM involves hands-on body manipulation, including stretching, minor pressure, and resistance. It encourages healing, helps you recover your range of motion, and lets you build up strength. Dr. Bernstein uses OMM in combination with other treatments for whole-body wellness.

2. Regenerative medicine

Mesenchymal stem cell treatments are “blank slate” cells that can morph into whatever tissue is needed at the treatment site. Using stem cells boosts your cellular regeneration rate, helping repair damage, including injured discs, with reduced recovery time and less inflammation than surgical treatment. 

3. Spinal decompression therapy

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

SpineMED is a state-of-the-art computerized system that gently but precisely pulls apart the vertebrae, relieving pressure on the affected spinal discs. This both decreases pain and encourages natural healing.

4. Therapeutic exercise

Dr. Bernstein uses a therapeutic exercise regimen to improve your strength and function while avoiding the risk of reinjury. 

Are you 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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