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Spinal Decompression

19 Nov

The main rationale for intermittent traction in the treatment of disc disease is that vascular blood does not directly supply the disc. The blood supply is even worse in the case of loss of disc material.  In clinical practice this means that or on-going lower back pain takes a long time to resolve.  Once it was realized that the healing process can be speeded up by pumping the disc with intermittent traction it became relatively simple to construct the necessary mechanical apparatus that can be controlled with computers and electronics.

All the new tables offer the basic mechanism of action of intermittent traction which consists of delivering two pulls of different strength.  The times and strengths of the pulls are set electronically and can be programmed.  In treatment of the lumbar spine, the initial pull is usually set at 45 pounds for 50 seconds and the force of the second pull is set below 30 pounds for 10 seconds.  Depending on patient comfort and feedback, the strength of the first pull is gradually ramped up to 60 to 80 pounds.  The strength of the second pull normally remains static.  The bigger the difference between the strengths of the first and second pulls makes intermittency more discernable.

 Length of treatment also has to be taken into account.  Longer treatment times are roughly equivalent to more pressure.  Rule of thumb physics dictates that more force requires less treatment time.  The length of the treatment is normally 15 to 20 minutes. Experience has shown that it best to be conservative initially especially on pull strengths which when too strong can aggravate an already sore back.  Brief vibration of the lower back after the treatment appears to help relieve soreness. Some practitioners also apply passive physical therapies such as electric stimulation, ice or ultrasound after the treatment to consolidate gains. It is strongly recommended that heavy manual labor or exercise be avoided for the rest of that day following treatment because the area being treated has been placed in a temporary state of weakness from being stretched out.  

 The classic rationale for prescribing intermittent traction is the loss of disc space.  In clinical practice degenerative disc disease is so common that other factors must be taken into consideration.  A suggested protocol is trying manipulation of the lower back first to gauge patient response.  In the case that manipulation results in great relieve it is probably not necessary to apply traction which could aggravate a condition that has already been corrected.       

Spinal decompression is easily administered and highly effective for the lumbar spine.  Specific joints are targeted the changing the angle of pull which is usually accomplished by raising or lower the table on which the patient usually lays face up. The pelvis is captured with a belt attached with a rope that is pulled by an electronic device at the end of the table. While the lower body is pulled in one direction the upper torso is held in place by a belt located below the rib cage attached to the other end of the table.  The resulting distraction of the discs is facilitated by a split in the table that prevents body drag.   Since active resistance of the distal pull is not required, the patient is encouraged to relax so that the vertebrae of the lower back can be easily separated.  Some tables also come with posts positioned under the arm pits to further stabilize the upper torso. 

Modern tables can also be used for the cervical spine, but the capturing device is slightly more uncomfortable.  Luckily manipulation is usually very effective for neck pain because of the absence of discs between the top two vertebrae of the spine. In the case that traction is used for the neck strength of pull is dramatically less and for shorter times because of the smaller and more delicate structures involved. In cervical traction, the body provides sufficient counter weight to make stabilization with belts unnecessary.


Lower Back Pain Epidemic

12 Nov

As people have towered over animals on the planet by walking on two feet instead of crawling around on all fours or slithering like a snake, the lower back has taken the brunt of the load. Human beings are the only creatures that have taken full advantage of elevating the front quarters off the ground, which requires less energy and provides a better field of vision, but the geometric increase of load on the lower back s has taken a tremendous toll. The human spine has adapted to the tremendous compressive force of gravity arguably through evolution, which unfortunately does not appear to have successfully addressed the modern day epidemic of lower back pain.

A relatively straight forward part of anatomy, the lower back has been unnecessarily mystified in an attempt to obfuscate the real issues.  Accepted medicine which is not geared to  physical medicine has taken upon itself the responsibility for restricting other healers from practicing the only form of medicine that has the potential to alleviating a problem which they do not have a clue.

  Spending of over $100 billion a year on accepted therapies has not reduced the incidence of lower back pain which affects 80 percent of the population at some time in their lives and is the second most frequent reason for visiting a physician after upper respiratory tract disorders  Less than 15 percent of lower back patients leave their physician’s offices with a specific diagnosis which leads to worse problems in treatment. Overall there is less than a one percent chance of the prescription of a definitive treatment plan that is specific to the presenting condition.

It is common sense that that regular medicine’s specialization in drugs and surgery is not effective for aches, pains and joint dysfunction from the sprains and strains of muscles and ligaments that cause lower back pain.    The best remedies for these types of problems are physical treatments but accepted medicine’s half hearted answer to this problem is physical therapy traditionally used for rehabilitation for recovery from surgery and not as primary treatment for musculoskeletal conditions.  Based in accepted practices that require referral from an MD, the fundamental perspective of physical therapy is to a certain extent irreparable divergent from the natural healing techniques practiced by alternative practitioners like chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists who attempt to help the patient recovery without drugs or surgery.

Manipulative Traction

6 Nov

“Manipulative traction” repeatedly referred to by the father of medicine, Hippocrates, has been used throughout medical history by a variety of practitioners, including Roman and Greek “skeleton men” and Egyptian “men of the hands.” In the Middle Ages bone setters were considered equals to traditional physicians with whom they routinely cooperated. The mainstay of the craft was a seven year apprenticeship by boys who completed university training between the ages of 12 to 17 and then joined well regulated guilds.

 The best bone setters along with physicians were paid a stipend by monarchs to insure the health of male lineage. If the sons died or were dysfunctional these practitioners would have to refund the money. Monarchs conferred to called bone setters  “orthopedists,” meaning career of the spine of the baby boy. Bonesetters and herbalists set a precedent for socialized medicine by providing care at no charge to the wives and daughters of royalty.

 Bone setting was Americanized around the turn of the 20th century in the Midwest by osteopaths and chiropractors who used manipulation as their signature therapy. The institutionalization of these professions was partly in response to the aggressive abandonment of holism by establishment medicine in the US where free-market capitalism is considered the mainstay of its economic system in principle if not always in fact. Chiropractic has remained a weak stand-alone profession, but doctors of osteopathy were absorbed by mainstream medicine in the mid 20th century when they were granted the same access to drugs and surgery as MDs.

 The practice of manipulation is based on nerve flow for chiropractors while osteopaths think it improves circulation of blood.  Osteopathic focus on blood is more in line with the practice of allopathic medicine which is based on chemistry. The long-standing philosophical debate between osteopaths and chiropractors about the primary effect of spinal manipulation is somewhat moot because of the inextricable entanglement of the two most basic functions of the body. Whether removing impediments to the flow of nerves or blood, manipulation is used to optimize spinal alignment and function with the goal of maximizing the body’s inherent capacity to manifest health.

Relief from neck, back, nerve pain

29 Dec

Pain from muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves can be effectively relieved with physical medicine. Alternative Health is one of the few clinics that offer a variety of solutions by combining treatments that correct your problem. It has taken decades for Dr. Tom to develop the capacity to administer the major treatments used in physical medicine. Click on the services menu on top of the page and you will find a drop down menu where information on manipulation, acupuncture, spinal decompression, massage and physical therapy is presented.

Following comprehensive examination using Western and Eastern diagnosis Dr. Tom will recommend the best treatments for you. Your response will determine how these treatments should be administered.

Combining physical treatments is called multidisciplinary therapy. There is a growing consensus that this type of care is the best way to approach musculoskeletal conditions. Western Medicine has failed to come up with effective protocols for the treatment of such notoriously stubborn conditions as lower back pain which has reached epidemic proportions. At least a few of the best MDs who represent regular medical schools recognize that conservative care is better than drugs and surgery for such notoriously stubborn conditions as lower back pain.

Receive physical treatment staged to effectively solve your problem from highly experienced practitioners at Alternative Health.