The secret of the pain of disc herniation...
whether it is just starting to bulge or worse, is that there are two sources. The reason why physical therapy will always failis: 1). the fallacious belief that exercise will stabilize the muscles which will relieve the pressure on the impinged nerve and2). in addition to direct pressure on the nerve, every bulging disc, causes a reflex segmental spasm at the level of the herniation (and the adjacent segments above and below).
The key, prior to starting any physical regimen, is that the spasms need to be addressed. This can only be achieved with OMT. This would take 3 minutes to do and 30 minutes to explain.
With this proprietary knowledge of the DOs, my general rule is for every mm of disc herniation, that is how long in months it will require to relieve the symptoms.
Skill, talent, and experience are variable among traditional osteopaths. You will have to find the right one for your problem.
I took me, a physician, several long and hard years after medical school and training (11 years) to figure out the secret of herniated discs. Do not believe that anyone with less education and experience tell you that they can help you.(Sure they can, only after the strains are removed, then physical therapy can help to bring back muscle tone and strength).
The secret is so profound and beautiful and I would only be able to teach and communicate it to an American trained DO. MDs will never be able to understand me and well meaning therapists do not have the scientific nor medical background to comprehend.
Once the pain and tingling are relieved, I warn patients that theherniation is still present (I'm not a miracle worker! - my patients will dispute this.)
Massive disc herniation (Total visits - 8 ):
Stephen is 47years old. He had R leg pain for 1wk. He was cramping constantly and it caused him to limp. He knew about me already from his sister-in-law. [She fell off a ladder 10years ago, no neck pain and no headaches, just dizziness when she looked up -1 visit] On first examination, his buttock and the whole R leg were in spasm. I would calm a spasm in one muscle down, then go to calm down the spasm in another muscle. When I returned to the first muscle, the spasm returned. I was chasing spasm after spasm. I was convinced that something was seriously wrong. I ordered an MRI. He called 2 days later and asked to be treated again. I refused until he got the results. He had 2 herniated lumbar discs. L4-5 was herniated by 2mm. L5-S1 was herniated by 6mm and it was not just a simple herniation (most discs simply bulge, or herniate back and to the side). His disc had herniated back, to the side, and down (3 dimensions!!!). Technically, this was a disc extrusion (similar to an Oreo double stuff oozing of the disc). It took 8 visits in two months for him to be pain free. I discharged him from treatments. I then went on vacation and cautioned him to take it easy on his back. Upon my return, I found out that he hurt himself and ended up in an orthopedic (MD) office. The MD was told about the disc problem and sent him to another MD back specialist. The MD looked at his MRI and was shocked that he had ZERO pain. He told my patient that had he seen him initially, he would have taken him to surgery immediately. My patient and his wife told me that the specialist was “very impressed with my results.” They encouraged me, several times, to meet him so that he could refer me cases (yeah, right). I subsequently made an appointment with him. Our conversation went something like this:
“Dr. Hoang, how long have you been treating patients for chronic pain?”
“Where did you train?”
“Loma Linda Pediatrics.” (He paused, momentarily caught off guard, because he thought that I was an MD anesthesiologist)
“Your office is in Arcadia. Which doctors refer patients to you?”
“Who else knows about you and your work?”
“There’s a guy (MD anesthesiologist) out in Glendora* who knows about me because I helped his patient.”
“How did you treat Mr. SL?”
“ I just laid him down…and simply removed the traumatic forces that cause compression, torque and strain at the level of the injury.”
He stood up, offered me his hand, “ I commend you for your good work. Thank you for stopping by.”
Most of my patients come from word of mouth referral. I can track the degrees of separation that brings a patient in. People are more hopeful and trusting if they know someone first hand who has been helped by osteopathic treatment after years and years of searching for answers.
Headache and Pelvic Pain
* This MD anesthesiologist in Glendora called me up one day, out of the blue. His patient told him about how I helped her with her headaches. He wanted my opinion. This was a first! I told him that I was quite shocked to have a specialist ask my opinion. Most people are not intellectually honest enough to inquire. I was only a pediatrician, what did I know about pain management? This girl, his patient, had headaches for 6 months. His colleagues thought that she was faking, and they questioned his use of pain meds, and thought him "crazy" to use so much. She would land up in the ER and he would dose her very heavily on narcotics. I told him, “Her headaches are real. You were right to treat her. Her headaches are coming from her R pelvis. What happened?” One month prior to the onset of her “fake” headaches, she had abdominal pain. She did not have fever, no vomiting, and no diarrhea. They thought she was faking to get out of school. Finally, someone ordered a CT. This girl was walking around for a month with a ruptured appendix and pus all over her abdomen [When there is an infection, as a protective measure, the body usually tries to wall it off in an abcess; unfortunately, she did not]. They cleaned her out and she ended up with a lot scar tissue. Now she has excruciating, debilitating headaches. Twice, in less than a year, this poor girl was assessed by professionals as LYING, for secondary gain, when she had two SERIOUS, DEBILITATING medical issues.
Three Disc Herniation (Total visits - 11)
Melissa is 26yrs old. She has had intermittent numbness and tingling in her L leg x 1yr. She came to see me because a family friend referred her mother and both responded exceptionally well. In the year prior to the onset of symptoms, she and some friends went camping. They decided to dive off a cliff. She was told that she "landed in the water wrong." They all laughed it off. Her MRI showed 3 herniated discs, one on top of the other. The first was herniated 1mm, the second 2mm, the third 3mm.
As we started treatments, she opted to see an orthopedic surgeon. As expected, she was not a surgical candidate. The surgeon too, had a herniated disc and he referred her to his physical therapist. She was advised to do exercises to "strengthen her core muscles." She reported that everything she did caused pain (of course!). By her fourth OMT visit, she had seen the physical therapist x 3 and decided that it caused too much pain. She diligently continued her OMT visits with me until she became symptom free; no pain, no numbness, no tingling.
After 8 weekly visits, we were able to space out her treatments to 3 more visits over the next 2 months; although Melissa is half Stephen's age it takes her just as long to recover for a smaller degree of herniation because she waited a whole year prior to initiating treatment.
Two Disc Herniation (Total Visits So- Far )
Hank is 50 years old and has 2 herniated discs. He came to me to help him get off his physical dependence on narcotics. I told him that he would only succeed if the pain from his herniated discs were controlled. to be continued...