Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spine Update

I am very excited to share that I have found a solution that will fix my back permanently, and it doesn't involve surgery. So I have decided to do a weekly post about the progress of my back called "The Spine Update". I am a big huge nerd I know. But I love learning about the human body and it's abnormalities so just can't help myself.

For any who don't know, I herniated a disk in my back about 2 years ago as a result of previous car accidents. For those of you who like specifics it is between L5 and S1 and pinching the S1 nerve root, which innervates all my hip extensors and hamstrings as well as other muscles. It has caused me great problems, and often causes a lot of pain. Sometimes the pain is very debilitating.

Being in the field of rehab, I have worked very hard to "fix myself" and avoid the death sentence called back surgery. I have a core routine that I do to take the pressure off my back, I worked with a personal trainer for a year, to get my muscles strong enough to take most of the load and take the pressure off my back I stretch my quads and hamstrings and hip extensors diligently in order to get rid of my anterior pelvic tilt which puts more pressure on my disk, I use a foam roller for myofascial release of the muscles, I have gotten massages, etc. I even started training for a triathlon when I started feeling strong enough. Well everything was starting to go well and I hadn't had any symptoms for about 5 months and I was able to tolerate two hours of intense cardio classes a night. I was stoked, cause I thought I was better. But then about a month ago I did a trail run with my triathlon group. Dumbest idea ever! It jarred my back and now my disk is consistently acting up again.

Well luckily for me, my institute of Religion professor also happens to be a chiropractor. He is a very brilliant man and is good at whatever he does. He found out about my back and told me about this non surgical spinal decompression therapy that will heal my disk back to 95% of it's original strength. He referred me to his son, since seeing students is a conflict of interest.

It turns out I have no curve in my cervical or lumbar spine along with the herniated disk. My chiropractor and I are working to put the curve back in my spine through spinal molding and exercises along with the spinal decompression therapy for my disk. So it should be better permanently within 6 months or so. Yeah! It is already feeling better after just a few sessions.

Here are the pictures of my spine currently. I am happy to report that my disk looks a lot better than on my MRI two years ago, but it still has issues.

Here you can see an L bend in my spine instead of a natural curve. This puts way more pressure on my disk between L5 and S1. You can also see the white circles. Those are the nucleus pulposis or the jelly filled nucleus in my disk. As you can see, the disk right at the L bend doesnt have one, as it has spilled out through the outer fibrous layer called the anulous fibrosis. You can see where the blackened disk is spilling out into my spinal column and pinching my nerve. That is the disk that is herniated.

Here, you can also see how my facet joints are locked and the the spinous processes of my vertebrae around the L bend are jammed into each other. This expains why it has hurt to sit for more than 10 minutes, during last month. The spinal decompression therapy is helping unjam them.

This is what a healthy spine is supposed to look like. you can see the natural curvature that evenly distributes force and pressure, the disks encased and having equal thickness, and the spinous processes evenly spread out.

FYI: My chiropractor is really good! He uses evidenced based research to support his treatments, he measures progress through reliable methods such as x-rays and MRI's etc, and really knows his stuff. I have grilled him extensively, made him show me research articles etc, since I am not going to trust just anyone. He is helping me a lot, so if you need a good chiropractor I would go see Dr. Michael Frogley


Adele said...

I love your 'don't worry my dr's not a quack' bit :-) Sorry you've had problems, but very very pleased you've found something to fix you!!!!

Dave and Becka said...

You are such a nerd. I Love It!

Tammy said...

This is great - thanks for sharing. Very interesting. I really really hope this works well for you and makes it better. In the meantime, let's hope that racewalking will feel good to you :).