HALF THE ADULT AMERICAN POPULATION HAVE DISC HERNIATIONS WITHOUT LOW BACK PAIN
"The ability of the human body to resist the invasion of its tissues by microorganisms is dependent upon a number of factors. But probably the best way to insure the highest degree of resistance for any given individual is to see that his dietary intake of vitamins is amply high.... Stomach ulcers are probably the best instance of a bacterial invasion primarily due to lowered resistance resulting from vitamin deficiency." - Dr. Royal Lee from the September 18, 1933 issue of The Vitamin News
"Make no mistake this is a turning point, a point where we will have to re-write the textbooks. This is vast. We are talking about probably half of all spinal surgery for back pain being replaced by taking antibiotics ... It is the stuff of Nobel prizes." -Peter Hamlyn, neurologist and spine surgeon at University College London, from an article in the U.K. Telegraph. Member of MAST (Modic Antibiotic Spine Therapy) Medical
"This will not help people with normal back pain, those with acute, or sub-acute pain - only those with chronic lower back pain. These are people who live a life on the edge because they are so handicapped with pain. We are returning them to a form of normality they would never have expected." - Lead author, Dr. Hanne Albert from the UK Guardian (also a member of MAST Medical)
Now a peer-reviewed study from Denmark has linked bacterial infections to HERNIATED DISCS. The study's authors at the University of Southern Denmark have shown that 35 - 40% of all cases of severe low back pain are the result of chronic bacterial infections that "attack" areas of the spine where "MODIC CHANGES" have taken place (named after Dr. Michael Modic, who identified these findings in 1988). It seems that a bacterium named "Propionibacterium Acnes" (yes, it's the same bacteria that causes ACNE), can get into the blood stream via brushing one's teeth, and end up finding its way inside discs that are already Herniated or Ruptured (this will make more sense if you remember that most Disc Herniations are, at least initially, "ASYMPTOMATIC"). Once inside, they set up residence and begin to make themselves at home, causing further problems.
The truth is, for many people, it could be as Dr. Hamlyn implied, revolutionary for at least some of the folks who are debilitated by Chronic Low Back Pain. However, don't think for a moment that it comes without risks --- not the least of which comes from Antibiotics in general, but also the world's growing problem of increasing bacterial resistance and our propensity to create the so-called "SUPER BUGS". I believe that therapies like this, while having a potential to help great numbers of people, also have the potential to harm great numbers of people as well. And lets be honest with each other; as an inherently skeptical person, I have some doubts about these results which were largely the result of doctors working for MAST Medical. I would also be curious to know if their protocol involves Gut Restoration and PROBIOTIC THERAPY post-treatment.
Lest we forget one of the most important aspects of this study, what about the infection itself? Do germs really "cause" infections? If germs alone were responsible for illness and infection in the way that most people understand the "GERM THEORY" of disease, there would be no one around to discuss it with. We should all be aware that we tend to get sick / infected when out Immune Systems are weakened and our bodies are overloaded with stress (physical, mental, emotional, dietary, chemical, etc). If you want to really dig into this issue, I would suggest you read about the philosophical battle that took place between two famous scientist of the relatively recent past (late 1800's - early 1900's): Louis Pasteur vs Antoine Béchamp and The Germ Theory of Disease Causation, or The Dream & Lie of Louis Pasteur. There are many others. It's a battle which, on some level, is still taking place today.
"Chiropractic certainly recognizes germs, but we look at them a little different way. You know that if you have a dump you have rats. If you poison the dump you will kill off the rats. But if you leave the dump there, they'll be back! The same is true of the human body. If a weakness exists, you will harbor the germs; viruses and bacteria. This is why one child is often sick and not the others, or why one person constantly gets colds for instance and yet the person's mate, husband or wife, seldom comes down with the problem." - Dr. Fred Barge from his "Rats in the Dump" lecture from page 52 of 1984's Are You the Doctor, Doctor?.
"One question was always uppermost in my mind in my search for the cause of disease. I desired to know why one person was ailing and his associate, eating at the same table, working in the same shop, at the same bench, was not. Why? What difference was there in the two persons that caused one to have pneumonia, catarrh, typhoid, or rheumatism, while his partner, similarly situated, escaped? Why?" - 'Father of Chiropractic', Dr. D.D. Palmer from his early (pre-1900) writings.
The truth is, there are definitely better ways to deal with Chronic Inflammation --- the first and foremost being to change your diet. As is almost always the case, I recommend a PALEO DIET. HERE are the chief reasons why. Also remember that because of the commonly-seen problem of Connective Tissue Damage seen with Antibiotic use such as that seen in Tendons, the potential of trading one Chronic Pain Syndrome for ANOTHER is likewise high. I might also suggest that you read a bit about the COMMON ORIGIN of all (or at least most) disease ---- even much of it that we today consider to be "GENETIC" before jumping into new and relatively experimental treatment methods such as the one described today. Yes, it could be the panacea you are looking for. Just be warned that there are thousands of internet message boards loaded with posts of people who thought the same thing about other various forms of treatment.
WHAT CAUSES SCIATICA?
Low back pain is not only an epidemic here in America, it is the second most common reason that people visit doctors offices. A different study that came out just a few months ago said that low back pain is the number one reason that people miss work worldwide. How are most people dealing with this low back pain? We'll get to that in a moment, but suffice it to say that the standard medical recommendation of drugs and rest is not working out very well for a large segment of the population.
The impact of low back pain and sciatica is enormous in numerous areas; financially, physically, and emotionally. We know that eight years ago, the cost of low back pain was 100 billion dollars. It is dramatically higher now. The UK Express said of Great Britain, which is slightly over one seventh our population, "Around 4.2 million working days were lost by workers aged 50-64 alone. Those aged 25-34 were absent for 1.89 million days due to back pain, while those in the 35-49 bracket missed 3.86million days in the office. The statistics also show a dramatic increase in the number of sick days taken because of the chronic condition - up from 7.7 million lost days in 2013 to 9.96 million in 2014."
We also know that chronic low back pain is a serious enough problem that nearly 50% of those suffering with it have GIVEN UP SEX --- and almost 3/4 have GIVEN UP ALL FORMS OF EXERCISE. In other words, it's destroying people's lives on almost every conceivable level. And any time that you see studies on chronic low back pain, you have to realize that this creature is a double-headed monster that frequently involves Sciatica.
Sciatica is irritation of the Sciatic Nerve that runs down the leg. The spinal nerves exit the spinal cord through small windows between the vertebrae. These windows are called the IVF (Intervertebral Foramen). If for any reason, the window is made smaller or the sciatic nerve is pinched, stretched, or rubbed, an irritation of the nerve takes place. The thing you have to remember is that all the nerves from the lumbar spine (the lowest 5 vertebrae in your back) as well as your sacrum (tailbone) grow together to become one nerve --- the Sciatic Nerve. The Sciatic Nerve is not only the longest nerve in your body (it stretches clear to the toes), but the biggest nerve as well (it is as big around as your thumb up where it originates).
WHAT ARE THE TOP TEN REASONS FOR SCIATICA?
- SUBLUXATION: When vertebrae get misaligned or have poor motion in relationship to each other, Chiropractors refer to this as VERTEBRAL SUBLUXATION. This is an extremely common cause of Sciatica and can usually be dealt with effectively through Chiropractic Adjustments, and an exercise program.
- PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME: Although most people have never heard of Piriformis Syndrome, there is evidence touting it as the number one cause of Sciatica (NEARLY 40%). When the Piriformis Muscle (one of the tiny stabilizers of the pelvis that make up the hip's "Rotator Cuff") becomes overly tight or tense, it can actually pinch the Sciatic Nerve. Bear in mind that almost everyone who deals with PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME will initially be diagnosed with.....
- HERNIATED DISC: These problems go by several names, including Herniated Discs, Slipped Discs, Disc Ruptures, Disc Herniations, Disc Protrusions, Ruptured Discs, and several others. Herniated Discs occur when the disc's jelly center (Nucleus Pulposus) begins to bulge or push its way out of the layers of ligaments that contain it and hold it in place (Annulus Firbrosus). Although MRI's are usually used to diagnose this common problem (HERE), they fool most doctors. Why? Because as much as 70% of the adult American population has disc bulges that they do not know about because they are not causing pain (ASYMPTOMATIC DISC HERNIATIONS).
- SACROILLIAC PAIN: Your SACROILLIAC JOINTS are the two bony knobs of bone at either side of the top of your sacrum (tailbone). When the pelvis goes into a 'torqued' position, a great deal of mechanical stress is put on the Sacroilliac Joints. This can cause Sciatica as well as local pain.
- SPINAL STENOSIS: Spinal Stenosis tends to happen more often in elderly patients, and is frequently characterized by bilateral Sciatica. SPINAL STENOSIS is caused by a thickening or buckling of the ligaments that line the Central Canal (the canal where the Spinal Cord travels). If I have an older patient who has bilateral leg pain, you can bet your bottom dollar their problem is Spinal Stenosis.
- DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE / DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE: These are usually referred to as DDD and DJD respectively. The problem is that although DJD of the lumbar spine can certainly cause Sciatica, it might be getting more credit than it is due (HERE).
- PREGNANCY: As you might imagine, a baby growing inside a woman takes up a lot of space. Sometimes the Sciatic Nerve can be pinched or irritated. Fortunately, Chiropractic Adjustments usually work quite well to relieve Sciatica symptoms in pregnant women.
- SPONDYLOLISTHESIS: This is a commonly found issue that is usually something the person was born with --- a common anomaly where one vertebral level slides forward on another.
- SCAR TISSUE: If you read our Piriformis Syndrome Page (link above) you very much understand how something like Scar Tissue can be such a huge problem as far as Chronic Pain is concerned. More information at the bottom of the page as well.
- CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME: CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME is a serious serious problem that require immediate surgical intervention. If your bowels or bladder do not work right, you find yourself leaking urine or feces, and you have saddle paresthesia (you cannot feel the part of your anatomy that comes in contact with a saddle while riding a horse), call 911 immediately!
- TUMORS, INFECTIONS, & ANEURYSMS: Although these three things certainly happen, they are not common causes of Sciatica --- not by a long shot. In fact they are quite rare. All three require medical intervention.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I HAVE SCIATICA?
- EXERCISE: I am a big fan of exercise. Hopefully, you are exercising to prevent problems like Sciatica as opposed to waiting until you have it and then trying to play catch up. More on EXERCISE.
- WEIGHT LOSS & ANTI-INFLAMMATION DIET: The first part of this bullet is a no-brainer. The heavier you are, the greater the chance of back problems. Do not wait until you have Sciatica to start a WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM if that's what you need. The second part of this bullet encompasses both weight and INFLAMMATION. If you are interested in solving your Sciatica, don't neglect this STRANGE BUT SIMPLE TRICK.
- INVERSION: There is a right way and a wrong way to go about INVERSION THERAPY. Make sure you know the difference
Here is a list of treatments that will require a visit to someone with some expertise in the field.
- CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS: Once you understand how Vertebral Subluxations work, CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS are the next logical step. They can also be quite effective for disc issues as well.
- SPINAL DECOMPRESSION: NON-SURGICAL SPINAL DECOMPRESSION THERAPY is an incredible modality for people who are trying to avoid surgery. Because Piriformis Syndrome is such a common cause of Sciatica; if I as much as suspect a person's problem is Piriformis Syndrome, I will give them a Tissue Remodeling Treatment to see what happens. This is because in my experience, Spinal Decompression Therapy always makes people with Piriformis Syndrome worse. Case in point: the other day I had a woman come to see me who wanted Spinal Decompression Therapy. I saved her a bundle of money by fixing her Piriformis Syndrome / Buttock Pain on the same day.
- TISSUE REMODELING: TISSUE REMODELING has been shown very effective for problems related to the connective tissues of the low back and pelvis (SEE HERE & HERE --- this links to a post with a "Top Ten" for solving your back problems). Once you begin to understand SCAR TISSUE, you can understand how it can be such a devastating force on your Sciatic Nerve when it forms in MUSCLES, TENDONS, LIGAMENTS, or most particularly FASCIA.
- LASER THERAPY: LASER THERAPY is an amazing modality for dealing with all sorts of problems, including those associated with Sciatica. This is why Laser Therapy is part of our Spinal Decompression Protocol.
- ACUPUNCTURE: I do not use needles in my clinic as far as acupuncture is concerned (I have, however, recently been using DRY NEEDLING techniques). Instead, I stimulate certain areas using a Mens-O-Matic Microcurrent unit.
- DRUGS: Where do I start? If you have read this far, you are probably not looking for drugs ---- in fact you are probably looking for a way to get off of them. First, you have to be aware that there are no drugs on the market that really work well for nerve pain (Gabbapentin and LYRICA are the two most commonly used). Secondly, most of the drugs that doctors will give you for Sciatica and similar problems are DANGEROUS, DEGENERATIVE, or DEADLY (the first link in these last three was included because you would be surprised how many people are prescribed this class of drug for Sciatica).
- SURGERY: This has to be a last resort. HERE is why.
ASYMPTOMATIC DISC BULGES
ODDS ARE GREAT THAT YOU HAVE ONE OF THE ABOVE, AND DON'T EVEN KNOW IT
If you have suffered with sciatica for very long, you have undoubtedly had an MRI. And more than likely you were told that your sciatica was due to a HERNIATED DISC. You were probably told to try some physical therapy or CORTICOSTEROID INJECTIONS, and then put on a slew of different medications --- DRUGS that temporarily ease the symptoms, but do nothing to deal with the underlying problem.
If your problem is truly due to a Herniated Disc, you may have to have surgery. But before you even think of that, you need to look into SPINAL DECOMPRESSION THERAPY. Spinal Decompression Therapy is a fabulous last-ditch-effort for those who are going to end up under the knife. However, as I have written about in the past, neither INVERSION nor Spinal Decompression Therapy work on PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME.
In fact, one of the dirty little secrets of the Medical Profession is that MRI's are next to worthless for diagnosing both SCIATICA and Herniated Discs (HERE). The reason for this is simple to understand. Study after study after scientific study has shown that somewhere between 50% to 70% of the adult American population is walking around with Disc Herniations that are visible on MRI's. And as many much as 90% of our 60 years or older population has a degenerative or bulging disc. However, the vast majority of these people have no idea these problems are present because they have no pain or overt symptoms (HERE). This simple fact goes a long way to explaining the ABSURDLY HIGH FAILURE RATE for Back Surgeries. Doctors excitedly point to these features on the MRI, while telling you that this is undoubtedly your problem ---- and they alone can fix it. Many people buy into this out of desperation. After all, you can't go on living with this pain forever. You pray that maybe this is that "ah ha moment" you've been praying for.
Although most doctors are completely unaware of the fact (in fact, the doctors in my area never, as far as I can tell, diagnose Piriformis Syndrome) that Piriformis Syndrome has been Scientifically Proven to be the number one cause for Sciatica (HERE). That's right. I used the word "proven". This does not automatically mean that I, or anyone else can necessarily help you. However, it does give us a starting point and frame of reference. You see, in February of 2005, the prestigious publication The Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine published an amazing study done at UCLA's Cedars Sinai Medical Center called, "Sciatica of Non-Disc Origin & Piriformis Syndrome: Diagnosis by MR Neurography and Interventional MRI with Outcome Study of Resulting Treatment ".
The purpose of the study was to address the fact that 4 out of 5 people with sciatica were being diagnosed improperly. Let me repeat that for those of you who are on autopilot. Nearly 80% of those with sciatica are being diagnosed improperly using standard methods. UCLA's study involved 240 patients who were followed for up to seven years. Out of these 240 people with sciatica, the most common cause for sciatica turned out to be PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME ---- a potentially debilitating disorder that arises from compression and /or entrapment of the sciatic nerve in the upper buttock area that many people refer to as their "hip". According to the press release for the UCLA School of Medicine study,
"When a patient experiences painful persistent sciatica - pain radiating down the leg - physicians often look only for a herniated lumbar disk relying upon lumbar MRI scanning. Surgery for the disk herniation is often carried out to treat the sciatica. Most spine specialist consider piriformis syndrome to be extremely rare. However, the authors conclude that although it is rarely diagnosed, it is actually a common cause of sciatica - possibly as common as the well known herniated disk syndromes."
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?
HERNIATED DISC OR PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME?
"Rarely Diagnosed". Interesting. But it's not like this is anything new. One of the top three medical journals in the world, The Lancet, first described PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME in 1928 by declaring that it was "difficult to diagnose". I have been treating Piriformis Syndrome sufferers for over 15 years and saying the same thing! In fact, if you go back and look at what I have written over the past ten years, I have at different times called Piriformis Syndrome one of the most "Secret, Misunderstood, and Misdiagnosed" epidemics of recent history. Probably because we sit too much, eat DEGENERATIVE DIETS, and spend far too much time on concrete. But that's another post for another day.
When you look at the VIDEO TESTIMONIALS of people with a 20-40 year history of Piriformis Syndrome who I have successfully treated, an almost universal thread emerges. Not a single one of them had ever as much as heard the term "Piriformis Syndrome" until they met me. Not that it would have mattered. I am not convinced that doctors making the correct diagnosis would help these people in any meaningful way. If you have suffered with Piriformis Syndrome for any real length of time, you probably know all too well what I am talking about. Unfortunately, I'm not sure a whole lot has changed since 1928!
A press release concerning this research was put out just days before the article hit the Journal of Neurosurgery. Eworldwire.com went on to say this about the UCLA study: The most common cause for sciatica in the study proved to be a diagnosis called "Piriformis Syndrome" - one of several disorders the investigators report on that arise due to entrapment of the sciatic nerve in the area of the hip. Currently, the report says, when a patient experiences painful persistent sciatica - pain radiating down the leg - physicians often look only for a herniated lumbar disk relying upon lumbar MRI scanning. Surgery for the disk herniation is often carried out to treat the sciatica. Why is understanding this statement so critical? Mostly, it has to do with avoiding unnecessary and ineffective surgeries.
You see, depending on whose research you choose to believe, somewhere between 50% and 70% of the adult American population is walking around with low back (lumbar) DISC HERNIATIONS that they are completely unaware of (HERE). They are unaware of them because they have no overt symptoms. No back pain. No numbness or tingling. No weakness. No SCIATICA. In fact, other than these people showing a Disc Herniation on their MRI, they have absolutely nothing that would lead anyone (including themselves) to believe they have any sort of problem at all. And this is where things get dicey.
If UCLA is correct in their conclusion that Sciatica due to Piriformis Syndrome is, "possibly as common as the well known herniated disk syndromes," (it was the #1 cause of Sciatica in their study of 240 individuals) we begin to see the makings of a full-blown conundrum.
As I wrote about A FEW DAYS AGO, doctors love positive tests. And nothing represents a more "positive" finding on an MRI than a Disc Bulge. It's real. It's visible. It's tangible. It's something that doctors can point to ---- and something that they can aim their NEEDLES and KNIVES at. But when the prestigious Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery weighed in on the subject and said that, "Piriformis Syndrome is estimated to cause 6-8% of sciatica, but is more common in the general population because it has been under diagnosed and under treated." the astute realized that something was not adding up.
The Dec 1991 issue of the medical journal Pain, came to a similar conclusion over twenty years ago, "Although rarely recognized, the piriformis syndrome appears to be a common cause of buttock and leg pain." Wikipedia says that, "diagnosis is difficult due to few validated and standardized diagnostic tests". "Rarely Recognized". "Under diagnosed" "Few validated and standardized diagnostic tests". If UCLA is correct, I would call these last three quotes "under" statements! Think for just a moment about what is going on here.
The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery is saying that Piriformis Syndrome represents significantly less than 10% of the Sciatica (6-8%), while UCLA is saying that it is approaching 40%. That is a big difference. And no matter how you slice it, it's impossible to get around the fact that over 50% of the adult population is walking around with asymptomatic Disc Herniations in their lumbar spines see earlier link).
As a chiropractor, I can assure you that hip pain, low back / upper buttock pain, and SCIATICA are all extremely common conditions ---- "Dog Common" as I like to say. On top of this, Piriformis Syndrome ---- a problem that UCLA is now saying is as prevalent as, or more prevalent than Herniated Discs ---- is being universally realized as being misunderstood and under reported (sounds like my description from earlier). This all adds up to bad scenarios that are occurring around the country with stunning regularity.
- UNNECESSARY BACK SURGERY: People with Piriformis Syndrome often have such terrible pain that it is assumed that if a Disc Herniation is seen on their lumbar MRI, it must be the cause of their Sciatica. Although surgery is frequently done to "correct" these "bad" discs, very few people seem to respond. Realizing that Disc Herniations are a common and largely "benign" MRI finding goes a long way toward explaining why so few people do well with spinal surgery.
- PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME TREATMENTS THAT DO NOT WORK: One of my recent patients had been through four MRI's, several CAT SCANS, and who knows how many worthless treatments. None of it helped him more than temporarily, none were geared at solving the problem, and only rarely did the testing even show there to be a problem. This fact is cemented by a quote from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery study, "In many cases, no cause can be identified ".
By the way, Disc Problems such as herniations or DEGENERATION tend to respond like gangbusters to SPINAL DECOMPRESSION THERAPY. However, the very same Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression will usually make Piriformis Syndrome worse! If you think that you might have Piriformis Syndrome, come in and talk to me. There may be hope for you after all. Or to view more Video Testimonials of our patients who have been helped after suffering from decades of severe Piriformis Syndrome, simply go HERE.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
Brain Based Therapy
Can You Help
Cardio Or Strength
Cold Laser Therapy
Death By Medicine
Degenerative Joint Disease
D's Of Chronic Pain
Evidence Based Medicine
Gluten Cross Reactivity
Ice Or Heat
Jacks Fork River
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Number One Health Problem
Platelet Rich Therapy
Post Surgical Scarring
Re Invent Yourself
Rib And Chest Pain
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Sleeping Pills Kill
Stay Or Go
Stretching Post Treatment
Tensegrity And Fascia
The Big Four
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Whole Body Vibration