When a Herniated Disc is not a Herniated Disc

Physicians, neurosurgeons, and orthopedics alike have for years provided the recommended treatment for a herniated disc – Surgery. By the way, there’s no way I could have become a neurosurgeon – I can’t even look at pictures like this!surgery

Recently, I came across an article from my friend, Dr. Danny Knowles, on research being done on Disc Regeneration, rather than Degeneration. The study, which was completed by Ming Zhong, MD, among others, published in Pain Physician, January 2017, found that lumbar disc herniation (LDH), a common disease, treated conservatively, frequently results in spontaneous resorption of the herniated disc.  Their results represent the pooled results from 11 cohort studies. The overall incidence of spontaneous resorption after LDH was 66.66%. That means over 66% of Lumbar disc herniated resolved on its own, using conservative methods.

Just think of how many people choose more aggressive methods to remedy Disc Herniations. A quick check of surgical methods for lower back disc herniations revealed over six different types of surgical procedures. I have seen over the years how my patients with herniated discs respond favorably to non invasive chiropractic care. Once again, chiropractic care does not “fix” a herniated disc, any more than chiropractic “fixes” headaches, neck pain, sleeping problems or anxiety.

However, if your Nervous System, THE most important part of you, the part of you that controls and coordinates EVERY function in your body, is not functioning at its optimal level, thereby creating subluxations that affect your body’s ability to heal itself, then you will have a more difficult time healing from a problem such as a disc herniation. The better your Nervous System functions, the better your opportunity to heal.

Surgery certainly has its place in the medical world. The question that needs to be asked is, what are you giving up in the long term for a questionable short term gain? Keeping your NeuroSpinal system healthy helps you experience more of what you want in your life: freedom, joy, movement, increased function, and greater adaptability. If someone you know and care for is experiencing disc herniations or health challenges in general, please let them know they have choices. While you are doing that, please pass my name along so they can make a better educated choice on the options they have.

Steve Kerr says, “Stay away from Back Surgery”

Yes, I am a sports junkie, and there is much to gleam from the world of sports. If you do not follow pro basketball, the Golden State Warriors were crowned NBA Champions Monday night, but head coach Steve Kerr is not in a celebrating mood, and it’s because of his back and what’s followed since the back surgery that he got back in the summer of 2015.steve kerr

Here’s the problem that Kerr has been dealing with since his first back surgery: leaking cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Your brain and connected spinal cord are pretty sensitive. Therefore, the brain and spinal cord sit in a “balloon” filled with clear fluid, called CSF, that cushions and protects these vital structures. This CSF bath helps ward off nasty microbes too. Normally the “balloon” membrane keeps the CSF from leaking out, but if this membrane is punctured, during an accident or surgery for example, then the CSF is no longer contained.

CSF leaks are not pretty and can cause all kinds of problems. This is because the leaks change the pressure in the “balloon” so that the brain and spinal cord are no longer cushioned quite the same way. Messing with the brain and spinal cord can literally mess you up, but you know that, that’s why you’re here! Common problems are headaches, nausea, vomiting, neck or shoulder pain and stiffness, and balance problems. Such leaks can affect your senses, impairing your hearing and sense of smell or making you extra-sensitive to light and sound. You can have strange tastes in your mouth or ringing in your ears. The CSF can make its way into your nose, ear, sinuses or other parts of your body. The symptoms can be debilitating and obviously prevented him from coaching effectively and enjoying his amazing life, coaching the best team in professional basketball.

The problems started around when the Warriors won the NBA championship in June 2015. He had suffered a ruptured disk in his back and then underwent surgery. After the surgery, he began experiencing CSF leaks, which led to another surgery later that year. The second surgery did not successfully correct the problem. Since then, Kerr has gone through a wide range of attempts to ease his symptoms, ranging from different medical treatments to yoga to meditation to marijuana.

To date, nothing has really worked. After the first surgery, Kerr started suffering from a leak of cerebrospinal fluid. Since then, Kerr has been going back and forth among different health specialists (including a second surgery later in 2015), trying to deal with the leaking cerebrospinal fluid that has occurred since his first back surgery. Although CSF leakages can occur spontaneously, based on reports, the timing did seem to coincide with the first surgery. In fact, Kerr told the Washington Post, “I can tell you if you’re listening out there, stay away from back surgery. I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anyone get in there.”

If all you Have is a Hammer, Everything is a Nail

Although this has historically been the rallying cry for chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists and more, now the American College of Physicians is joining the ranks. In new guidelines published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, on Monday, February 13, 2017, they stated, “Opiods – one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief and a source of increasing addiction and death – should only be considered for chronic back pain when other alternatives – natural and prescription – don’t work.

Even acetaminophen, which includes the brand name Tylenol, is no longer recommended for acute lower back pain relief, due to a 2014 study in the journal The Lancet that showed it was no more effective than placebo. 1drug addiction

Would you believe lower back pain is the most common reason non-cancer patients are prescribed opiods? Experts believe it is a common gateway to opiod addiction as well as transitioning to heroin! This is the conclusion of Steven Atlas, director of practice-based research at Massachusetts General Hospital, who authored an editorial accompanying the American College of Physicians guidelines. 2

Let’s see…You have a couple of options for lower back pain. One, you can start on a prescription of opiods, which have been proven to be a gateway to opiod addiction, leading to heroin, or you can use a safe and effective method such as chiropractic to find the cause of what’s causing your body to malfunction. Seems like a no brainer to me. I wonder why the American College of Physicians has taken so long to come to the conclusion that opiods are not the logical step towards correcting back pain. It’s not recent news that opiod use or even prolonged acetaminophen use is damaging to your health. I always come back to the theory that if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything else is a nail. Meaning, if a patient presents with a pain, (nail) you need to hit it with a hammer (drugs, surgery).

Everything is not a nail. A headache is not neck pain, which is not difficulty sleeping, which is not lower back pain, which is not anxiety, you get my point. You are very smart. Your body is very smart. It has an inborn intelligence, that helps guide you through good health and poor health. Symptoms are the way your smart body tells you something is not right and needs to be changed. Symptoms are not the way your body tells you it wants to become an opiod or heroin addict!

Listen to your innate intelligence. You are not a nail. You do not need a hammer. Maybe you are a screw or an eye hook. Hammers cannot solve every problem. If you or your friends and family have not found the right tool to solve your problem, give me a call!

1 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2463257

2 Wall Street Journal Tuesday, February 14, 2017 Life and Arts section

Germ Theory – The Truth Exposed

For most of the years I have practiced chiropractic, I have heard patients in my office and friends outside of my office share conversations that go like this:

“I caught a cold from my kids.”

“My grandkids gave me the crud they got from their friends at daycare.”

“I shouldn’t come in for an adjustment. I might give this to someone.”

“I don’t want to catch what he has.”sick

These are all common, acceptable conversations that happen all the time in our society. Just because it is common, does that mean it is true? We all grew up with the notion of the “Germ Theory”, first suggested by French biologist Louis Pasteur. He discovered that microorganisms or “germs” caused disease. According to his “Germ Theory”, we “catch” bacteria, colds, viruses and they should be prevented through drugs, vaccines, and other means. We were taught to be afraid of these germs and out of fear try to “kill” them with drugs rather than generating good environments in our bodies.

Did you know that Pasteur’s theory received opposition from numerous scientists, including Antoine Béchamp, a French researcher and biologist, who also happened to be Pasteur’s rival with the exact opposite view of germs. In contrast to the idea that bacteria would enter a healthy host and create disease on their own, Béchamp proposed that living entities called microzymes created bacteria in response to host and environmental factors; this is called “Host Theory.”

In Host Theory, people do not catch germs that give them diseases. Instead disease-causing germs are actually opportunistic, thriving in people whose bodies have a weakness or imbalance internally. They are a byproduct of the disease, not THE CAUSE of the disease.  You have viruses and bacteria in you and on you all the time, every day!

I remember in chiropractic school we did throat cultures in Pathology Class. EVERYONE in class had the Strep bacteria on their culture, but NO ONE in the class had Strep throat. Why? Only when the host loses its ability to defend itself against foreign invaders, germs, will the Strep bacteria overrun your body’s Immune System.

Now that we got that out of the way, how can you change your conversation from the ones above to a more empowering one, where YOU are in control of how healthy you are? I always go back to my 5 Pillars of Health!

  1. A Healthy Nervous System – research shows that the Immune System gets its marching orders from the Nervous System. Chiropractic care improves the function of your Nervous System, which affects the function of your Immune System. Plus, stress is probably the biggest contributor to Immune System compromise.1
  2. What are you eating? A diet higher in fresh organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats like chicken, fish, and healthy fats is superior to a diet consisting of a processed foods, foods from a bag or box and sugars. 2
  3. Keep moving! – research shows that regular cardiovascular exercise improves Immune System function 3
  4. Rest – look at the times in your life where you have “gotten sick”. Were you getting the same amount of sleep as when you functioning better? Probably not. It’s no wonder that research shows a direct correlation between lack of sleep and Immune deficiency. 4
  5. Positive attitude – another no-brainer here. People who are isolated, depressed, anxious and stressed will have a more compromised Immune System. Do things for yourself to keep your attitude positive! 5

So, what do you think? Do you have the knowledge and resources to create a more empowering conversation about Germ Theory vs. Host Theory? My goal is to empower you to be in control of your amazing health. The next time you “get sick”, instead of blaming someone else for “giving” you their cold, look at what needs to change in your life from the list above. Take your power back! You deserve it.

1 http://www.chiro.org/research/ABSTRACTS/Immune.shtml

2 https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm

3 http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/9_5/current-articles/Healthy-Diet-Fights-Infection-by-Boosting-Immune-System_981-1.html

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

5 http://www.livescience.com/8158-optimism-boosts-immune-system.html

What you happen to you if YOU tried this?

If you are any kind of sports junkie, you know that Roger Federer just defeated Rafael Nadal in the finals of the Australian Open. What makes this noteworthy? For starters, Roger Federer is 35 years old in a sport dominated by early and mid 20 somethings.

Secondly, and more importantly, he took the LAST SIX MONTHS OFF to recover from back and knee injuries as well as illness. Everyone else on the Tour is practicing and improving every day, with their sights set on capturing the next event.

What’s my point here?roger

Imagine that you have taken six months off from the exceptional diet you have carved out for yourself. You let yourself go and eat Big Macs and Taco Bell for six months. What kind of shape would you be in, physically and mentally?

What if you took six months off from the amazing exercise program you have worked hard at? No running, no yoga, no weight training, no skiing. What level of fitness would you have in six months? How challenging would it be to get back to the fitness level you had before you stopped your exercise program?

How about your sleep? What if for six months you only slept for four hours a night? What would your energy look like? Would you be able to stay awake for an entire day?

Lastly, what if you took six months off from your chiropractic care? What would happen to the health of your Nervous System? What would happen to your ability to adapt to the stress of your life, both physical and emotional? What would happen to your overall function, trillions of messages every second, from all parts of your body to your brain and back again? What would happen to your ability to fight off sickness and illness? What would happen to your energy level, your mood, your life?

You see, Roger Federer has spent most of his life practicing to be the best. It’s amazing that he was able to take six months off and return a champion. For most of us, we are not Roger Federer. We need to continue to do the work. Create great habits, and live your great habits. It will pay off in the quality of your health and life.

Are you a Settler?

As my children will attest, I dislike watching TV commercials. I do not find them funny and I do not like to be sold to when I am watching a show. But behold, there is an exception! The Settlers, which is a series of Direct TV ads, somehow caught my attention. The kids want to switch to Direct TV but the dad is a “settler” and will stay with Cable and its shortcomings. Watch it HERE, I think they’re funny.settlers.jpg

The term “Settler” can be used in many occasions in life.

You may settle on a job or profession that you have no passion for.

You may settle in a relationship without the burning love that you seek.

You may settle on a place to live out of convenience or affordability.

You may make a decision to settle because the decision is not a high priority decision. If it’s a place to live, you may rationalize your decision because you’re busy and not really at your home other than to sleep and eat. You may rationalize settling on a job because you really need the money and this is just a stepping stone while you are in school or a bigger opportunity.

But…

What happens when you settle on your health?

This is a dangerous agreement you are making with yourself.

Have you ever said, “These headaches are not really that bad. I only have them in the afternoon after I have not had enough for lunch.”

Or

“My neck pain only happens when I am at the computer for a few hours. I’ll try to get up and walk around.”

Or

“Getting 5 hours of sleep isn’t so bad. Many of my friends get less than that, and not only that but I’m doing pretty darn good on 5 hours!”

Or

“At my age this is to be expected. It’s not so bad, it could be worse.”

How long are you going to continue to settle for less than the best for you? Don’t you deserve to function the best you can, to feel the best you can for AS LONG as you can? Countless patients on their first visit with me over the years have said, “After all, I’m 40.” or 50, or 60, or 80. Who says your health and life need to go downhill at 30, or 40, or 60, or 80? To make your health a priority and not settle, you need to set lofty health goals for yourself, figure out what action steps you need to take and with who, and DO IT, and keep doing it.

It’s easy to reach a goal such as eliminating pain, and then to say, “I’m done.” The choice is always yours, but are you settling? Are you settling for “Patch, not Fix” mentality? You are worth every dollar you spend on your health. You have one life to live, one spine, one Nervous System that needs to last your entire life. This is not the time to be a “Settler.”

Go for the Direct TV option. Don’t settle for cable.

Go for the healthiest option. Don’t settle for your health being ordinary.

Seek extraordinary!

If you have made the decision not to settle for your health, congratulation! Please think of someone you know who has made that decision to settle and share this with them.

Why do we need more of these?

Last week, I was traveling through Longmont, and I saw a large building under construction. I thought that is great for Longmont, and a testament to the development happening there. As I passed the location, I saw that it was a new Longmont Hospital being constructed.optimal-health

As I thought about the reasons why a new hospital being constructed, the question I kept asking myself was, if there is a need for a new hospital, what does that say about the health of the people in the community? According to my logic, if demand necessitates the financial expenditure of a new hospital, then that means there are more people in need of a hospital’s service. From that, I can deduce that more people are:

  • Diagnosed and treated for cancer
  • Developing diabetes
  • Developing heart disease
  • Becoming more dependent on prescription medication
  • Developing blood disorders
  • Becoming arthritic
  • Developing kidney failure
  • Experiencing digestive problems
  • Being diagnosed with headaches and migraines
  • Treated for spinal problems, such as degenerative disc disease

If more people are being diagnosed with these common ailments and diseases, what does it say about the direction of health? In my opinion, it means that overall health is declining. The construction of a hospital is designed to address this increasing need for “sickness care”, that is the indicative of a general declining rate of health in society. The procedures they will practice, whether it is drug prescription or surgery, are designed to reduce symptoms and keep a patient from a further declining health.

Is this the future that you aspire to? If you are not taking your health into your own hands, you are practicing what I call “hope and a prayer health.” Simply speaking, if you are not taking your health into your own hands, you will eventually give over control to someone (doctor, surgeon) or something (drugs, medication, surgery) else.

There are so many options for enhancing your health and life, this the THE best time in your life to start. I always go back to my basic five for enhancing your health and life.

  • Chiropractic care for enhancing Nervous System function
  • A proper diet, to properly alkalize your blood and body, and help keep your weight at a healthy range.
  • Regular exercise, to keep your joints limber, your heart healthy, and your body ready to adapt to the stress of your life.
  • The right amount of sleep for proper regeneration and recharging of your batteries.
  • A positive mental attitude

My experience is that if you constantly practice these foundations for optimal health, you will maximize your potential and be able to empower yourself with greater health and life.