Back pain is a common medical problem; some 8 out of 10 people experience it at one point or another during their lives. The pain can be anything from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that radiates down your arm or leg. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and lasts anywhere up to a few weeks. If it lasts more than three months, it becomes chronic.
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. As many people automatically think of “surgery” when it comes to back pain, the team wants to offer reasons why you should choose nonsurgical spinal care instead.
A bit about your spine
The adult spine contains 24 vertebrae stacked in a column and held together by small, bony protuberances called facet joints. In between the vertebrae are the intervertebral discs, which prevent the bones from rubbing against each other and absorb the shock when you bend, flex, twist, or even walk.
As you get older, the vertebrae become subject to wear-and-tear problems like osteoarthritis, the development of bony spurs that can impinge upon nerve roots and cause radiating pain, and stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that can also affect nerves. In addition, the discs tend to lose moisture, flattening out and even rupturing — a herniated disc. With herniation, the inner, gel-like disc material can spill out into the spinal column, once again impinging upon nerve roots.
Risk factors for spinal pain
While back pain can result from many different causes, there are certain risk factors that make you more susceptible:
- Getting older: those over 30 have more back pain, often from wear-and-tear problems
- Weight: excess weight puts pressure on joints and discs
- Overall health: weak abdominal muscles can’t support the spine, leading to back strains and sprains
- Lifestyle: those who smoke, drink excessively, or live a sedentary lifestyle have a higher risk
- Occupation: jobs that require heavy lifting or bending increase the risk of back injury
- Structural problems: scoliosis — which changes spine alignment — and osteoporosis — a thinning of the bones — lead to pain and possible fractures
- Mental health: depression and anxiety can lead to back pain
Some of these risks you can control, such as bending and lifting, while others you can’t. That’s why treatment is so important for a healthy back.
Why nonsurgical spinal care instead of traditional surgery?
While in some cases, such as a ruptured disc, surgery may be necessary to resolve the problem, most back issues can be treated with nonsurgical techniques instead.
Surgery, which even for an arthroscopic procedure is, by nature, invasive, carries a number of risks:
- Blood loss
- Potential infection
- Pain from procedure
- Long recovery time
- May not solve the underlying pain
In contrast, Dr. Bernstein uses holistic techniques that enhance and activate your body’s innate potential for self-healing. These techniques are at most only minimally invasive, though most are completely noninvasive. They include:
Osteopathic manual medicine (OMM)
OMM uses hands-on body manipulation, including stretching, minor pressure, and resistance, to encourage healing, recover your range of motion, and build up strength. Dr. Bernstein uses this in combination with other treatments for whole-body wellness.
Mesenchymal stem cell treatments boost your cellular regeneration rate, helping to repair damage, such as injured discs, with reduced recovery time and less inflammation than other treatments.
Spinal decompression therapy
When you have spine pain caused by bulging or herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or sciatica or other radiculopathy (radiating pain), Dr. Bernstein uses SpineMED® spinal decompression therapy, a powerful noninvasive treatment.
This state-of-the-art computerized system gently but precisely pulls apart the vertebrae, relieving pressure on the affected spinal discs, which decreases pain and encourages natural healing.
Dr. Bernstein’s therapeutic exercise regimen improves your strength and function while avoiding the risk of reinjury.
If you’re dealing with spinal pain, you don’t have to go under the knife to find relief. Give Santa Cruz Osteopathic a call at 831-464-1605 to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Bernstein, or book online with us today.