Neck and back pain are two of the most common complaints that bring patients to an orthopedist or osteopathic physician, though they originate from various causes. If you’re struggling with pain and conventional therapies aren’t helping, we have a great alternative for you.
At Santa Cruz Osteopathic, physical medicine specialist Dr. Richard Bernstein sees many patients with neck and back pain. That’s why he offers state-of-the-art treatment options such as SpineMED®, a spinal decompression therapy platform that relieves your pain and restores your ability to function. Here’s what he wants you to know about your spine and how spinal decompression therapy can help.
What’s in a spine?
Your spine consists of 24 interlocking bony vertebrae with cushiony intervertebral discs between them. It serves as your backbone in more ways than one. It extends from the base of your skull down to your coccyx and is strong enough to bear the weight of your head while standing upright, but it’s also flexible enough to let you bend, flex, and twist.
The discs contain the outer annulus, a firm structure containing nerves, and the inner gel-like nucleus. Because your spine sustains wear-and-tear damage over time from daily use, the annulus may eventually crack, allowing the nucleus to ooze out or “herniate.” The material can press upon nearby spinal nerve roots, causing great pain.
The vertebrae are linked together by small, bony facet joints, two at the top and two at the bottom of each vertebra; altogether, they form the spinal column, which protects the inner spinal canal. The spinal cord runs the length of the canal, with peripheral nerves exiting through openings (foramina) between the vertebrae and heading out to the extremities.
If the canal narrows (spinal stenosis), the discs degrade (degenerative disc disease), or the wear-and-tear of osteoarthritis inflames the spinal joints, any of the nerve roots in the canal can be subjected to undue pressure. The result is pain traveling from the root along the nerve’s path, a condition called radiculopathy.
A classic example of lumbar (lower back) radiculopathy is sciatica. Stenosis, or a herniated disc, presses on the sciatic nerve root at the L4-L5 junction. The pain shoots from the back through your buttocks and down the outside of your leg into the foot. You may also experience numbness, tingling, or weakness in the areas the nerve serves.
What to expect during spinal decompression therapy
Spinal decompression is a noninvasive, nonsurgical procedure that relieves back and neck pain. Intervertebral discs often don’t heal on their own because they’re under constant pressure. The decompression process reduces the pressure inside the discs and allows fluids, nutrients, and oxygen back into the disc space. As a result, the herniated portion may retract.
Dr. Bernstein often incorporates on the SpineMED decompression platform to treat disc and nerve problems along the length of the spine.
Lumbar spinal decompression therapy
If your problem lies in your lumbar spine, Dr. Bernstein secures the patented pelvic restraints that keep your pelvis stable during treatment, then tilts the panel to target your problem area. The precise, computer-controlled system gently pulls the vertebrae and discs apart in that area, relieving pressure on the nerves.
Cervical spinal decompression therapy
If your problem lies in your lumbar spine, Dr. Bernstein secures the patented pelvic restraints that keep your pelvis stable during treatment, then tilts the panel to target your problem area. The precise, computer-controlled system gently pulls the vertebrae and discs apart, relieving pressure on the nerves.
Spinal decompression is a completely painless process. Each session lasts about 30 minutes, after which Dr. Bernstein may use other complementary treatments to help relieve your pain. He recommends 20 sessions with the SpineMED, once daily during the week, with a weekend rest period, until your pain subsides.
Am I a good candidate for spinal decompression therapy?
SpineMED is a safe, noninvasive procedure that doesn’t produce side effects or complications and is appropriate for anyone age 16 and older. However, patients with conditions that compromise the spinal column’s structure, including osteoporosis, spondylolisthesis grade 2 and above, fractures, or tumors, aren’t good candidates for the treatment.
Struggling with neck or back pain and not getting enough relief with conventional therapies? Call Santa Cruz Osteopathic at 831-464-1605 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bernstein, or book online with us today.