Understanding Sciatica

Sciatica at The Back Care Center of Dumont, NJEvery couple of weeks we make it a point to educate our practice members about a particular symptom. This week we focused on a very painful symptom called “Sciatica”.

The sciatic nerve is formed from the combining of several different lower back nerve roots. It is the largest nerve in the body. When something happens to irritate or pinch that nerve people will experience pain, tingling or even a burning sensation, traveling from the lower back or buttock down to the back of the thigh and sometimes all the way to the foot (Sciatica).

People with sciatica often find sitting or standing extremely painful. Working can become impossible and as the pain becomes worse over time, any movement results in new spasms of pain shooting from the back down the leg.

There are many reasons for sciatica. Two of the most common causes are spinal subluxation (misaligned spinal bones) and nerve pressure from a herniated or bulging disc (the spongy shock-absorber between spinal bones).

As a chiropractor, I have over 25 years of experience taking care of subluxations. Using a variety of different methods, I can gently and safely move spinal bones back into their normal position, un-pinching nerves and relieving pain. Additionally, in our office we do mechanical spinal decompression to fix disc problems without using drugs to cover the pain or dangerous surgeries.

Personally, I have had the problem and know how painful sciatica can be. When I was 16 years old, I was told by an orthopedist that surgery was the only way for me to be rid of my leg and back pain. Eventually, though, it was a chiropractor who helped me, which eventually led to my choice of career. If you know of someone suffering with sciatic pain don’t wait, call them today and send them to our office for help.

 

The Chiropractic Approach to Shoulder Injury Rehab

Going back to school to stay current with the latest medical developments or expand the treatment options we can provide our patients is important for any doctor.

Last week I attended a seminar covering rehabilitation for the shoulder and arm. The topic wasn’t new but I enjoyed reviewing the information and got to touch base with some doctors I have not seen in several years. While the material was familiar, I was struck by how different a chiropractic rehabilitative approach is compared to the typical medical model.

The shoulder can be a difficult area to rehab and long-term injuries are common. Anyone who has suffered with rotator cuff tears or bursitis already knows the standard treatment: medications for the pain, simple exercises and ultrasound. Some patients may get results this way, but I find that more often the “standard” approach doesn’t address the whole problem and often the patient will soon experience another injury to the region.

The shoulder joint is not like the other weight-bearing joints in the body. Gravity doesn’t stabilize the shoulder. Instead, the shoulder hangs from your skeleton, attached by muscles and ligaments. Power is generated in the shoulder by good stabilizing muscles and a full range of motion in all the related areas. When we treat our shoulder patients, we usually look at the entire shoulder but then also evaluate the neck, middle back and even the lower back as well. Good function of the muscles and joints in all of these regions is needed to really fix shoulder injuries.

Those of you who have shoulder problems know how painful they can be. It isn’t uncommon for people to develop drug dependencies because of the unrelenting agony.

If you or anyone you know is suffering with a shoulder injury please give us a call here at the Back Care Center. We would love to help.

Don’t ignore family health problems – even if they’re difficult to talk about

Every doctor knows that the worst type of patient to treat is a family member. I tend to ignore their problems, rather than giving advice that would almost certainly be disregarded. Even when one of them suffers a herniated disc injury, one of the things I treat in my office, I still may not become involved since many of my family are some type of health care providers themselves and we tend to have differing opinions.

This past holiday weekend, I got to see some of my extended family and began noticing how badly they were being affected by untreated back and disc injuries. I saw significant changes in their posture, loss of mobility and even atrophy (wasting away) of their muscles.

Honestly, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Untreated disc injuries may not cause constant pain but frequently will affect health in other ways. Many people have come to my office looking for help with the same types of things I saw in my family members. It was just shocking to see it in the people I have known my whole life.

After seeing the results of my silence, I have committed myself to making certain my patients know how dangerous it is to leave these types of injuries untreated. If you, a friend or family member are suffering with a herniated disc, please make sure to get the necessary care.

My office uses a unique combination of mechanical spinal decompression therapy, soft chiropractic instrument adjustments, cold laser and rehabilitative exercises to get the best possible results without surgery or medications. Call us today at 201-387-7463 for help.

And as always, have a great and healthy day.

Dr. David Schwartz, DC
The Back Care Center of Dumont, NJ

Is Talking About Spinal Decompression Therapy Scaring Patients Off?

I received a phone call from a marketing firm this past week. It was a typical call, trying to solicit business. The man said that he had “investigated” my practice and I needed to change my approach to speaking with my patients.

He told me patients were scared of chiropractors and spinal decompression therapy, and that if I hoped to be successful in the “New World of Health Care” I needed to stop focusing on those things and start looking at providing other types of services.

I mentioned that statistics repeatedly have shown that the services I provide are:

  • much safer than typical medical care
  • more effective in the long run than surgery
  • less costly that other approaches.

He wouldn’t be deterred and insisted that letting people know what I did was keeping them out of my office.

After thanking him for his advice, I hung up and shook my head. For over 25 years I have been helping people get better without medications or surgery. I know that by telling people about the benefits of chiropractic care and spinal decompression I have helped hundreds of people avoid using dangerous drugs and undergoing risky surgeries.

Maybe some people are scared because I talk to them about chiropractic adjustments and spinal decompression therapy. And maybe I am not going to make it big in the “New World of Health Care” but I will keep doing what I do because I know it is the best way to safely keep people healthy — and that is what matters the most to me!

 

When tears of joy replace tears of pain…

Last time I blogged about how I have been using a combination of chiropractic adjustments and spinal decompression therapy to deal with my own disc injury and get out of pain.

Today I want to tell you about a patient of mine who was suffering with constant neck pain as well. Her pain was in her neck, shoulder and into her arm. It had been going on for a very long time and after going to several doctors, physical therapists and even another chiropractor she came to my office after another patient convinced her to try just one more time.

It took a little while, months in fact, but after some hard work, including spinal decompression therapy, her pain began to go away.

I didn’t realize just how impactful this was for her until she came into the office one day almost in tears. She told me “Doctor, you just don’t understand how much of a relief it is not to be in pain every day!” By the time she left we both had a good cry. I was happy for her, plus I was reminded myself just how badly chronic pain affect your life.

This type of patient is one of the reasons I love what I do. I have seen hundreds of patients get those same results over the years and know that without chiropractic these people would have ended up either on pain medications for life or cut open by a surgeon on an operating room table.

Maybe it was going through a period of incredible pain myself that reminds me just how grateful I am to be part of a profession that allows me able to change so many of my patients’ lives for the better.

I feel your pain.

After more than 25 years of as a chiropractor, I sometimes forget how dramatically pain can change a person’s life. This past winter I was reminded how important getting adjusted can be by my own pain.

The pain in my left hip started in early December. At first it was nothing too severe. Just enough to cause me to ice my back and hip after working out and to go running up to my office in between patients to sit down for a rest. Frequently, I couldn’t sleep through the night, because when I moved the pain would wake me. My wife told me that I often moaned in pain when I did manage to sleep. I tried changing my exercises, doing therapy on my hip, massage, rest – I even tried using some “over the counter” pain medication but the situation continued to get worse.

I really began to get worried when I wasn’t able to lift my left leg without feeling sharp pains. I had to use my hands to physically lift my leg when getting into and out of the car. I have been hurt many times in my life, but this scary. It was the first time my weekly visits to my own chiropractor were not doing the trick. I began to think that I was going to need surgery.

Finally I went to see a different chiropractor. After a full examination found the problem to be in my back, I began getting adjusted and getting spinal decompression therapy 3 times a week. The change has been amazing. My pain began getting better almost immediately.

After a short time, I have gotten so much better that now I am able work with little or no pain and have returned to the gym. Sadly, it is not all “butterflies and rainbows” yet. I have had setbacks and times when I pushed myself a little too hard or too fast. And like so many of my patients, every time I feel the pain I have to fight back the panic and remember that getting better takes time.

I am looking forward to getting back to doing the things I love and know that without chiropractic and spinal decompression therapy, my future would be looking very different.

Have a great and healthy day!
Dr. David Schwartz,
The Back Care Center of Dumont, NJ
For appointments, call 201-387-7463

Invest in your own health

Recently a new patient came to me with lower back pain that radiated into the leg. He had been battling the problem for three years and it was gradually getting worse. After examining him and looking at his X-rays and his MRI report, I knew two things. First, if he didn’t get this problem taken care of he would end up needing a risky surgery on his lower back. The second thing I knew was that I could help him before it got that bad.

The only problem was his insurance coverage wasn’t great and he was going to have to be responsible for part of the cost of his care. I try to keep my fees affordable but he wanted to know if I could guarantee my results. Sadly, there are no guarantees with health care. All any doctor can do is provide the very best service possible and do what he believes is the right thing for the patient.

What I could guarantee was that doing nothing to deal with a growing problem would be a poor choice. He was concerned that pain was going to prevent him from being able to do his job, and with money so tight he didn’t want to spend anything on his health. But the truth was that if he didn’t “invest” in his health it would cost him not only much more money but also potentially his job and the quality of his life with his family.

In this case, the patient and I both felt very strongly that the treatment I recommended was his best choice. We gave him a reasonable payment option and he has chosen to begin spinal decompression therapy. I expect that his ROI (return on investment) will be excellent.

My concern is for others with problems like my patient. Insurance costs are climbing and coverage is more limited with each passing year. But in the end, ignoring your health will become the most costly investment you didn’t make.

Is surgery the only answer when competitive athletes get hurt?

The other day was Sunday or “Football Day” as it is referred to by many of my friends. I watched a bit and caught the wrap up Monday before making it into the office. Several players, including Michael Vick, were hurt during the day and had to leave the games.*

Injuries really aren’t surprising considering how rough competition can get. Even at a college or high school level, sports are violent and players get hurt. The consequence of these injuries may stop an athlete from participating in any competition and the pain can be felt for the rest of their life.

The big question is. “What do competitive athletes do when they get hurt?” The pressure to get back into the game is immense. Often they are faced with the choice of losing their place on the team or undergoing some type of risky surgery.

It made me think about my own experience and that of several other chiropractors who were high school and college athletes. After potentially career ending injuries of different types we were all offered surgery as a cure but chose to undergo chiropractic care, recovered fully and got back to playing that same season. (Unlike surgery, where the recovery time and subsequent rehab often makes an injury “season-ending.”)

Over the past 25 years of practice here at The Back Care Center of Dumont, NJ we’ve helped many injured athletes. We’ve also kept many of our younger athletes injury free with good support programs, exercise regimens and regular chiropractic adjustments. And if you’re a golfer, we have specific and extensive experience in Golf fitness, with 2 Titleist Certified Golf Fitness Professionals and a PGA Golf Pro on staff.

So get out there and play safe. And if you do suffer an injury, think about giving us a call before you consider more radical treatments like surgery. We may be able to get you back in the game before it’s too late.

 

*By the way, Vick’s injury was a concussion, which thankfully the NFL is finally taking seriously. (Even Madden 12 Football is taking them seriously, with concussions resulting in the player being sidelined for the rest of the game, no exceptions. If you don’t play Madden, then you can learn all about it from this article by Alan Schwarz (no relation!) in the NY Times.

Looking for Spinal Decompression Therapy? Talk to The Back Care Center of Dumont, NJ!

I recently had a patient referred to me by another chiropractor. The patient was suffering arm and shoulder pain due to several badly herniated discs in his neck. Pain from this type of problem can be severe and have significant effects on day-to-day life.

The doctor referred him to us because of our “Discforce” spinal decompression therapy table, something that very few other chiropractic offices in Bergen County, NJ have. This state-of-the-art equipment allows us to safely and painlessly treat “slipped” or herniated discs in the neck and in the lower back.

It was the doctor’s opinion that without spinal decompression therapy, the patient would have to undergo surgery in his neck. Both the patient and the doctor agreed that having someone cut open his neck would not be his first choice, so she made the referral to our office.

I am very happy to be able to help this man and all of the others who have come to the office for this type of treatment. If you have any questions about spinal decompression therapy and whether it can help you, please contact the office or send me an email. And if you’re in Dumont or one of our neighboring towns (Bergenfield, Closter, Cresskill, Englewood, Harrington Park, New Milford, Ridgefield or Teaneck), why not stop in and take a look at our Discforce spinal decompression table. It’s actually pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves!

AARP: Think twice before going under the knife

I recently read an article in the recent issue of AARP The Magazine, 4 Surgeries to Avoid: Reasons to think twice before going under the knife, that talked about 4 surgeries that should be avoided. Personally, I think they were being kind by only listing 4, however one of them in particular caught my attention. Complex spinal fusions for Stenosis, where surgeons take a piece of bone and used it to fuse two other spinal bones together.

The most common reasons for spinal fusions are back pain, herniated discs and spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal due to degenerative changes in the spinal bones). Sadly, study after study has shown that surgery for back pain usually has poor long-term results.

Yet for some reason more surgeries are being done every year to address this very problem. Insurance companies willingly shell out tens of thousands of dollars for each procedure. Back pain sufferers think it’s a great deal because they only have to make a co-payment and the rest is covered. They must expect that the surgery will fix whatever the problem is instantly and they will never again be plagued by back pain of any type.

In fact, according to the AARP article:

Previous studies have also found that most fusion patients experience no more relief from their chronic back pain than those who had physical and behavioral therapy. “There is even some evidence that [complex fusion surgery] is worse than other surgeries,” says Floyd J. Fowler Jr., Ph.D., senior scientific advisor for the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (FIMDM). “The vertebrae right above and below the fusion have to do a lot more bending, and it puts stress on your back above and below.”

I also have to question the motives of the doctors doing the procedures. After increasing evidence of failed back surgeries, I wonder if they just are hoping to make their money and run!

My advice is, even if you can get a back surgery at the bargain price of a $50 co-pay, don’t do it. There are multiple options to surgery and the studies all point to a better prognosis than if someone takes a knife to your back.

At The Back Care Center of Dumont, NJ, I use state-of-the-art non-surgical decompression for herniated and degenerated discs. I also use a combination of chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue work on the muscle, tendons and ligaments, and rehabilitative exercises. Our results are spectacular and have none of the risks associated with spinal surgery.

If I leave you with only one thought, I’d like it to be this: surgery is a permanent and life-altering process that you can’t undo. Consider trying non-surgical spinal decompression therapy and chiropractic care first. If it doesn’t work for you, there will be plenty of time to let somebody cut into your back and fuse your bones together later.