The temperature outside certainly feels like August but it does seem that this month has arrived rather quickly. In about three weeks or so, school will begin again and the bright young minds will be asking lots of questions. In that same vein, I am changing the format of this month’s newsletter to address some of the questions I get in regards to previous newsletters I’ve written on the DRX. I usually don’t like the question-answer format in newsletters but sometimes it is the most efficient way to address questions that many of you may have.
Q. What is the DRX 9000? A. It is a highly sophisticated machine that will decompress your spine, shrink herniated discs, re-hydrate degenerated discs, and allow your back to heal without surgery. Sciatica caused by a disc herniation or bulge will also respond.
Q. Can I just try one treatment and see if I like it? A. Yes, but you are most likely not going to get the results you want. The DRX program is a series of 15-30 treatments over 6-8 weeks that is trying to rehabilitate your spine. Go to the gym and try to get back in shape with one workout. It can’t happen. In fact you are usually the sorest after your first workout until your muscles grow and adapt to the new stress. The DRX is trying to gently pry open degenerated discs and create a negative pressure in the disc space that sucks the disc back into place and pulls water back into the disc with other nutrients to heal it. All healing takes time. Some people feel great after their first treatment but most feel a little sore and unstable. That goes away as the treatment progresses.
Q. How is it different from traction? A. That is a great question. The angle of the pull and the lumbar bladder create a fulcrum effect that has the pull going through the disc space and not pulling long-ways through the body. The DRX uses a traction pull but it is unique in that it is monitoring the feedback of your muscles to the pull seventeen times a second. It slowly raises up the amount of pull that is going through your disc in an effort to sneak past your muscles and open up the disc space. The muscles are designed to protect your spine from being pulled apart so as soon as they feel a strong pull, the muscles clamp down and no disc opening occurs. Traction can not create a negative pressure in the disc space because of these muscles contracting. With the DRX, the minute your muscles start to respond to the pull, the machine drops the pressure immediately and slowly starts to raise it up again. It is trying to fool the muscles into letting it open the disc by doing it very slowly and gently. That is what is known as the logarithmic curve of the pressure to create the disc space opening. This machine accomplishes this by using several computers to monitor the reactions and servo-motors out of guided missiles that can react to split second instructions. That is also why this machine, that can treat both cervical and lumbar discs, cost $125,000 and most traction units are a tenth of that or less. Do you think that you are getting the same treatment from a $5000-10,000 unit or a belt that you can pump up with air? Traction tables have been around for decades and they can offer some relief at times but they can not heal a disc herniation or reverse the degeneration of your spine.
Q. Can’t I just do exercises and fix my back? A. Everyone needs to do exercise to strengthen their back and we give you some specific exercises as part of the whole DRX program. Weak muscles were part of what got you into back problems in the first place and that has to be addressed in order to keep you pain-free in the future. I used exercise to help me recover from my two herniated discs when I was 36 but eventually they stopped working. I needed to re-hydrate my discs to get the pressure off the nerves and get rid of the pain and numbness in my foot that developed years later even while still doing the back exercises. There are lots of athletes with very strong back muscles who still have disc pain.
Q. Does everyone need this? A. No. This is a last step for people that have tried everything else and are heading to surgery. There is no such thing as a simple surgery. Even the percutaneous discectomy, which uses little holes to go in and scrape out disc material, can still have complications. If you have tried all the conservative ways to get better like Chiropractic adjustments, Bio Cranial Therapy, PT, exercise, massage, etc, this may be the only solution for you. This program is also for people who know they have degeneration in their spine and want to rehabilitate their discs. The more your spine and discs degenerate, the greater your chance for pain and disability in the future. The normal progression for a disc is to continue to shrink and degenerate once it has been injured. The DRX program is finally a way to reverse that progression and save you lots of pain in the future. Unfortunately, not all spines can be treated by the DRX. If you have let your back degenerate to the point of having bone spurs push on the nerves coming out of your back or grow back and shrink the size of your spinal canal (central canal stenosis) your chances of being helped by the DRX are about 50/50. There are other types of cases that can’t be treated but the point is that putting up with your pain and letting it continue could eventually preclude you from being a candidate. Back pain is common but it is not normal and should be addressed sooner rather than later. As a teenager, I had back pain twice a year that would incapacitate me for a week at a time. I was damaging my discs a little more every time that happened. Eventually I herniated my discs, which is the natural progression of chronic back injuries. Disc herniations don’t happen overnight; they are created slowly over time by minor traumas and tearing of the disc fibers until the inside of the disc finally herniates out into the spinal canal. Sometimes a piece tears off and floats around in the spinal canal causing all kinds of problems. Ignoring a chronic back problem only makes it worse.
I’ve run out of space for this newsletter but if you have other questions you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labor Day weekend will be here shortly and the office will be closed Monday 9/4. The big news for August is that I am getting married this month on August 12th. I never thought that phrase would be coming out of my mouth again but I’m happy to say it’s true. Gloria and I met last year on August 12th and we are getting married on our one year anniversary. We are going on a honeymoon to Italy for two weeks but not until the end of September, so I won’t be taking any time out of the office in August. It will actually feel like a second honeymoon since we joke that our Australia trip was our first honeymoon and then we decided to get married. I always was a bit backwards!