Back pain is one of the most common medical conditions, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. The pain can be located anywhere along the spine, from the base of the skull down to the tailbone. While minor muscle strains and sprains are likely to heal relatively quickly on their own, back pain stemming from other conditions may prove more resistant, turning chronic if not properly addressed.
At Santa Cruz Osteopathic, Dr. Richard Bernstein, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, sees many patients with back and neck pain from many different causes. That’s why he offers state-of-the-art treatment options such as SpineMED®, a spinal decompression therapy platform that relieves pain along your spine and restores your ability to function.
The nuts and bolts of your spine
Your spine consists of 24 interlocking bony vertebrae, each with cushiony intervertebral discs between them. It’s strong and stiff enough to let you stand up straight and bear the weight of your head, but it’s also flexible enough to allow you to bend, flex, and twist.
The discs each contain a hard outer shell, called the annulus, and a gelatinous center, called the nucleus. Given the constant load your spine has to bear, over time, discs sustain wear-and-tear damage that may cause the annulus to change shape or “bulge,” or crack, allowing the nucleus to ooze out or “herniate.” If this material impinges upon nearby spinal nerves, it can cause a great deal of pain.
Pain caused by impingement can also travel along the nerve’s path, a condition known as radiculopathy. A good example of this is sciatica, where the pain travels from the nerve root in the lower back through the buttock and down the outside of the leg.
The vertebrae are joined together top and bottom by small, bony facet joints, and the vertebrae, discs, and joints form the spinal column, which protects the spinal canal within it. The spinal cord runs through the length of the canal, with peripheral nerves branching off and heading out to the rest of the body through openings between the vertebrae called foramina.
What is SpineMED spinal decompression therapy?
Spinal decompression is a nonsurgical treatment used for pain in both the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) spine. Damage to an intervertebral disc doesn't usually heal on its own because the discs sustain constant pressure. Decompression uses an outside force to reduce the pressure inside the discs, allowing fluids, oxygen, and nutrients back into the disc space, and causing bulging or herniated discs to retract.
Spinal decompression is both safe and painless. Each session lasts about 30 minutes, after which Dr. Bernstein uses additional, complementary treatments to relieve your pain. He recommends you have 20 decompression sessions, once every day during the week with a rest period on the weekends, until you feel substantial relief.
7 conditions that respond well to SpineMED
SpineMED is an effective treatment for seven major spinal conditions:
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear of the vertebrae)
- Bone spurs (bony growths cause by bone rubbing on bone)
- Facet joint syndrome (inflammation of the joints)
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
For most conditions, the problem stems from the impingement of spinal nerve roots that leads to pain, weakness, and numbness in the back and/or an extremity.
Back pain may be common, but that doesn’t mean you have to endure it; SpineMED can help with many causes of back pain due to nerve impingement. To learn more, and to set up an evaluation with Dr. Bernstein, give Santa Cruz Osteopathic a call at 831-464-1605, or book online with us today.