Franklin Chiropractor | Lumbar Degeneration
Lumbar Degeneration Lumbar Arthritis Your lumbar spine (low back) is made up of 5 individual vertebrae stacked on top of a bone called the “sacrum”. To allow for flexibility and movement, there is a cushion or “disc” in between each level. As we age, these discs can wear and become thinner over time. This leads to additional changes, including bone spurs and narrowing of the opening where your nerves exit your spine. This process is called “lumbar spondylosis”, or simply, “arthritis”. This problem most commonly involves the vertebra at the very base of your spine, which bear the highest loads. Lumbar arthritis is exceptionally common, affecting people as young as 20 and becoming extremely likely by age 70. How quickly you develop low back arthritis is largely a trait you inherited from your parents. Other factors may play a role, including a history of trauma, smoking, operating motorized vehicles, being overweight and/ or performing repetitive movements (i.e. lifting, twisting, bending or sitting). Men seem to be affected slightly more often than women. Symptoms often begin as back and buttock pain that gradually worsens over time. Stiffness may be present upon arising in the morning. Pain is relieved by rest or light activity and aggravated by strenuous work. Sometimes your nerves can become “pinched” in narrowed openings where they exit your spine. This can cause “sciatica” which results in pain, numbness, or tingling radiating into your leg along the path of the irritated nerve. Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice any weakness or if you have fever, abdominal pain, change in bowel or bladder function, or pain in your groin crease. Arthritic changes can be seen on x-rays, but interestingly, the amount of wearing does not seem to correlate directly with the severity of your symptoms. People with the same degree of arthritis may have symptoms ranging from none to severe. Most researchers believe that the symptoms of osteoarthritis are not the direct result of the disease, but rather, from the conditions that preceded the disease and those that develop subsequent to it, like joint restrictions and muscle tightness. Fortunately, those conditions are treatable and our office has a variety of tools to help relieve your pain. In general, you should avoid repeated lifting and twisting and take frequent breaks from prolonged sitting, especially in motorized vehicles. Avoid any position that causes an increase
in radiating pain. Low-impact activities, like walking, stationary cycling, water aerobics, and yoga may be helpful. Our Treatment Here is a brief description of the treatments we may use to help manage your problem. Joint Manipulation -Your franklin chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your franklin chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. makes sure you go to the best of the best today. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints. Therapy Modalities -We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed. Therapeutic Exercise -Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your franklin chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury. Traction – Your condition is aggravated by compression of your spinal joints and discs. We may perform traction “by hand” or utilize a specialized traction table to “decompress” these tissues. Traction helps to stretch your tight muscles and ligaments, improve nutrition to the discs and increases available space in the openings where your spinal nerves exit. Your franklin chiropractor has a spinal decompression machine that is very effective treatment for this condition. Your specific treatment– This will be determined by your franklin chiropractor and our A+ team of doctors and staff. We will perform our O.N.C.E exam and based on that we will determine the best course of care for you. Usually we find it takes approximately 15 visits to get you feeling better, and around 30 visits to start seeing some lasting change. Of course, everyone is different your particular condition may require more or less than that. After the initial course of care we will reassess your improvement and determine the need for any additional care. Home Exercises Patients often ask the franklin chiropractor “What caused my problem and how do I keep it from returning?” Sometimes the origin of a condition may be easily identified as an accident or injury. More often, the exact cause is more difficult to pinpoint because the problem was
generated by a series of seemingly harmless events and circumstances (i.e. your posture, increased activity, mild repetitive strains, etc). Most conditions are started by a “recipe” of irritants rather than any single “ingredient”. Muscle, bone, joint and nerve problems begin when life’s physical demands exceed your bodies tolerance for those challenges. So the answer to the second half of the “…and how do I keep it from returning” question is answered by increasing your flexibility and strength, so you can increase your “threshold” for future injury. When your injury threshold is greater than life’s demands-you win and stay healthy! Below are a few exercises for you to try, but exercises alone won’t help so consulting your franklin chiropractor is the best first step! 1.Foam Roller- Spine -While seated on the floor with a foam roller positioned directly behind you, lie back onto the foam roller. Elevate your pelvis and begin gently rolling back and forth over the roller. If less pressure is desired, this exercise may be performed upright, against a wall. Perform for one minute, twice per day or as otherwise directed. Additionally, laying on the foam roller with your tailbone, spine, and head resting on the roller is a great relaxation exercise. Allow your arms fall to the side with elbows touching the ground as you relax on the roller for 1 minute 6.Psoas Stretch- Kneeling -Begin in a half-kneeling position with the side to be stretched on the floor and your opposite knee bent at 90 degrees, foot planted on the floor. Shift your pelvis forward slowly, keeping your hips and back straight. Against the resistance of the floor, contract your involved thigh in an attempt to flex it forward toward your chest for seven seconds. Relax and shift your pelvis further forward to increase the stretch. Keep your trailing leg rotated outward. “Lock in” to each new position and perform three contract/relax cycles twice per day or as directed. 7.Seated Figure 4 Hip -Begin seated on the edge of a chair in a Figure 4 position. Apply a downward pressure with your hand to your elevated knee until you feel a stretch in your hip. Against the resistance of your hand, attempt to push your knee upward for seven seconds. Relax and increase the stretch by pushing down with your hand while leaning forward. “Lock in” to each new position and perform three contract/relax cycles on each side twice per day or as directed.