Where Is My Back Pain Coming From?
What is the Cause of My Low Back Pain?
Low back pain can originate in any one of several different locations in the spine (as well as combinations of these locations). This always makes it interesting when a patient asks, "Hey Doc ---- where in my back is my pain coming from?” Is the problem a Ruptured Disc? Is it a muscle? Do I have a nerve being irritated or pinched? Is there a bone out of place back there? Are the vertebrate or discs simply wearing out? Often times my answer to this battery of questions is simply "yes".
Our goal is that through taking detailed patient history and performing extensive examinations and neurological testing, we can reproduce your symptoms. Our hope is that this gives some clues as to what tissue(s) may be the primary culprit in your pain. It also lets us know when and how much your symptoms are abating in response to any treatment you might receive.
I truly think that most doctor's intent is to provide an accurate diagnosis of your problem as possible. Unfortunately, the CURRENT RESEARCH tells us that there is only about a 15% accuracy rate when diagnosing your low back pain. Much of this has to do with the fact that MRI's, while one of the better tests available, are NOT AS ACCURATE A TEST FOR DISC PROBLEMS as we have always been led to believe. This is because much of the time, people's specific problems will not image on MRI. And the things that do show up, are frequently not the things that are actually causing your pain.
Another reason that it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis of spinal pain is the incredible number tissues having the same nerve supply. If any of these tissues is damaged or injured, you get pain, and the pain can be very similar for a number of different conditions. In order to improve the odds of being diagnosed accurately, the QUEBEC TASK FORCE published research back in 1995 reporting that accuracy could be improved to over 90% if we doctors simply utilized an approach where low back conditions are classified into 1 of 3 categories. While I think that 90% is a bit on the optomistic side of things, following these guidelines definitely increases your chances!
- Red Flags: These include dangerous conditions such as cancer, infection, fractures, CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME (a severe neurological condition where bowel and bladder function fails). These conditions generally require emergency care due to the life threatening and / or surgical potential.
- Mechanical Back Pain: These diagnoses include VERTEBRAL SUBLUXATIONS, FACET SYNDROMES, ligament and joint capsule sprains, MUSCLE PULLS OR STRAINS, DEGENERATIVE DISCS, or spondylolisthesis (one vertebrae slipping forward on another). This is the most common of the three categories.
- Nerve Compression: These more severe conditions include pinching of the nerve roots --- or even the spinal cord itself. Most frequently Nerve Compressions are caused by HERNIATED DISCS or SPINAL STENOSIS ----- or combinations of both. However, I treat lots of people with CHRONIC SACROILLIAC PAIN and PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME. Neither of these are problems that respond to Spinal Decompression Therapy, but both can likely be helped by what I do here.
DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
As accurate a diagnosis as is humanly possible is a great thing. But when it comes to some of these problems, does it really matter? On some level it certainly matters. If you have a PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME, I will not put you on Spinal Decompression until we address that (there is a high probability that it can be dealt with without a need for Spinal Decompression Therapy). It is important to determine if your problem is simply a muscle spasm. Although muscle spasms are frequently secondary to other problems that are helped by Spinal Decompression Therapy, they can be primary --- and if they are, Spinal Decompression could very well make you worse!
And of course we need to rule out the really bad stuff as best we can. Once we know we are not dealing with "Red Flags", I would have to say that it matters less than one might think, what the specific diagnosis is. Allow me to explain using GEORGE LAWLER as my example.
George had been through practically every medical tests and treatment you could name ---- and some you can't. Some of these were done more times than you can shake a stick at. He had been through numerous MRI's, CT's, X-rays, and who knows what else. He had suffered through RFA's, CORTICOSTEROID INJECTIONS, NARCOTICS, and more drugs than you can even imagine. None of it really helped him.
With George and other people in similar situations, the Radiology Reports read like a "Who's Who" of Spinal Problems ---- THE "BIG FOUR" ---- DISC HERNIATIONS, DEGENERATIVE DISCS, SPINAL STENOSIS, & FACET SYNDROME. If you have more than one of these problems, is it important to differentiate between the symptoms of each? Not only is it not important, The American Pain Foundation has reported research by Duke University saying that accurately identifying the exact tissue that is causing the pain is possible in less than 15% of Low Back Pain patients!
And think logically for a moment; if all four of these extremely common problems and their corresponding SCIATICA can be helped by doing roughly the same treatment ---- Spinal Decompression Therapy; it becomes less critical to determine exactly which problem is causing your pain. Don't get me wrong; I will do all I can to make an accurate diagnosis. But when you have 3 or 4 of The "Big Four" showing up on your MRI, it no longer matters. The beautiful thing is that they all tend to respond to Spinal Decompression Therapy!
THE POINT OF THIS ARTICLE?
We already know that even though there are doctors out there who are KNIFE-HAPPY, there are a growing number of doctors telling patients to AVOID SPINAL SURGERY AT ALL COSTS! The bottom line is this.....
- Rarely do the problems mentioned above need surgery.
- Spinal Decompression Therapy has been shown to help the majority of these problems.
- Spinal Decompression is not going to make these problems worse.
- Spinal Surgery for these problems carries a high probability of leaving the patient no better, or even worse than before their surgery (SEE HERE)!
- When compared to Spinal Surgery, Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy is the best deal in town!
But to get the ball rolling, you must make make the call. Simply dial (417) 934-6337 and talk with Tracy to set up a Free Consultation. Just look at THESE VIDEO TESTIMONIALS. It could be the best decision of your life!