Dr. Troy Dreiling recently did an interview with renounced spinal doctor Jeff Tunick.
Below is a transcription of that show.
Interview Part 1
Dr. Troy: Hello everybody this is Dr. Troy on a special edition of Absolute life radio. I am excited about today’s show. I have a special guest in the studio with me today. I want to welcome Dr. Jeff Tunick to the studio. Dr. Jeff, thanks for coming along.
Dr. Jeff: Dr. Troy, thank you so much for inviting me today.
Dr. Troy: Excellent, I am glad you are here. We have a jam packed show and before you know it this thing is going to be over. Today I want to talk about spinal disc decompression therapy.
Just so people know a little bit about my history, I have had some issues with my spine. Being a chiropractor for 25 years and bending over, sports injuries, I tore up some discs in my low back. I actually found you a couple of years ago and you set me straight and got me into decompression so I want to thank you for that.
I really want to talk about; you know you have been in practice for 30 years you have seen hundreds of cases that have resolved successfully with this type of therapy. I really want to reach out to our listeners and describe what spinal decompression therapy is.
Dr. Jeff: That’s a great question. To correct the record first, I have been in practice 36 years (laughs).
Spinal decompression basically is a non-surgical approach to people who have had prolonged low back and or leg pain and are very anxious to avoid surgery or who have had back surgery and it hasn’t turned out so well. Non-surgical decompression is an excellent avenue for them to achieve for relief.
Dr. Troy: So you have back pain patients, sciatica patients. What are some other signs that might be an indicator that somebody needs this type of therapy?
Dr. Jeff: Well, you know the typical patient is someone who has prolonged or acute low back pain. Maybe they have sciatic pain, maybe they have been told by their doctor that they have a condition like spinal stenosis. They are having difficulty walking at the mall, they can only walk for 5 minutes then they have to stop and take a rest.
Anybody who is having really significant problems with their spine and just has not been able to find a solution with their family doctor, their regular chiropractor, whoever has been treating them and they hit a brick wall. They should see somebody that does spinal decompression because more than likely they are going to be able to find relief.
Dr. Troy: That’s a good point. People with back pain, sciatica, even leg weakness sometimes that can improve. People with paresthesia, tingling. Those are just some of the other symptoms I’ve seen.
People come into my office. You know, we have two office that they can pick from whether in Vancouver or Portland but when they come into our office they will see the machine and they’ll go, “what is this”? It looks like a spaceship kind of.
So how does this work? Somebody that has chronic back pain that’s not getting better through a traditional medical approach or a chiropractic approach, even acupuncture or physical therapy. How does decompression work that is different than all this other stuff?
Dr. Jeff: What decompression does is, it’s a modern form of traction and rehabilitative exercises that enable that disc to heal, to rehydrate, and to take pressure off the nerve roots. Typically if someone has sciatic pain, leg pain, there is pressure on a nerve root and this form of traction allows the doctor to really isolate the level at where their problem is occurring, to bring blood and nutrients into that disc, rehydrate it to get that pressure to go off that nerve root and for them to get relief.
You know that numbness that you described, that pins and needles feeling, what doctors refer to as paresthesia that is occurring because of the pressure on that nerve root. So, through decompression, we are able to release that pressure and get that nerve root to start functioning better again.
One of the first signs that you know you are doing well is that the patient will say to you, hey doctor Troy you know those pins and needles, that numbness I was having, that weakness in my leg? Boy, it seems to be gone. That pain that I was getting down my leg that used to go all the way to my foot and my ankle, it’s only going to my calf now, and you know it’s only going to my mid-thigh.
Those are all indications that decompression is doing its job.
Dr. Troy: So typically, who can use this? I mean is it men, women, boys, girls, seniors? Who would qualify for this?
Dr. Jeff: (Laughing) Well, they have to be human.
Dr. Troy: (Laughing) That’s a good start
Dr. Jeff: In our practice, we’ve found as young as 16 and I believe our oldest patient was 94. So men, woman, anyone who is living their life; you know typically these patients have lived their life they have had some bumps and grinds along the way, maybe they have had some acute accidents, maybe they have been in a car accident. Basically, that patient that we described earlier that has that consistent lower back pain that’s just not letting go, they’ve got that leg pain, weakness, and altered sensation. Whether it’s in their arms or legs, that patient is a patient that really could use a workup to see if they are a candidate for spinal decompression.
Dr. Troy: One thing I know that you are really keen on is MRIs. You’re good at reading the MRIs. You know I have been in practice 25 years, I had an MRI, I brought it to you and I learned some things from you on the MRI which I can’t tell you how many patients have come into our office and will say, nobody has ever shown me the MRI, I don’t know anything about it. I just read this report with all these big words on it like an annular tear, spondylosis, what does all of this mean?
Talk about MRIs, what you look for and what you tell patients, what you typically will see and how decompression and the rehab component I think is key here. How that really helps this thing get more stable, gets them functioning better.
That’s really what we’re after is getting their quality of life back.
Dr. Jeff: Yeah, this is a great question.
So, typically what needs to happen is the patient needs to be seen in consultation and we need to get from them what they are feeling, what’s it like to be Dr. Troy today? You know, I got pain in my back it’s going down my leg. You know all of those things are helpful clues for us as to where that nerve pressure is.
Then there is a physical exam, we do orthopedic, neurologic tests. We want to see does all of that correlate with what the patient is telling you. The MRI that you being up, for me, is the most important part. I have a saying in my clinic, “Information is king and not to see is to guess.”
For us we love getting that MRI done, we want to see it. On that MRI we can see the disc, the nerve roots, the joints, we can see all the muscles and ligaments. For us that’s all really important information because we want to see if in fact on that MRI if they’ve got a disc issue they more than likely also have weakness in the stabilizing muscles.
If you remember when you and I first met that was one of the key factors that we wanted to show you. That was when we look at that MRI we want to teach that patient, you know I teach my patients how to read MRIs. Every single patient gets an education on how to read their own MRI. We get to show them all the issues that are leading to the pain generation which is critical. If you are going to get a pathway to fix them then we really do need to know what is wrong.
That MRI will help us to see how to correlate all that information we’ve gotten on the consultation and the history and the physical exam, when we can see it on the MRI, see evidence of that and tie it all together then we can give them a critical pathway on how decompression can actually help them.
Dr. Troy: Wow, yeah, That was the biggest thing for me was seeing the MRI and your like you know, you got a steak here, a top sirloin with not fat in it and then you have this beautifully marbled rib eye with all the fat and
Dr. Jeff: yeah, let me say a few words about that (laughs)
Dr. Troy: Yeah, you don’t want the marbled fat rib eye on your MRI (laughing)
Dr. Jeff: That’s a bedside manner thing for me. It’s like I am showing them the MRI and we are looking at these very small stabilizing muscles in the spine that very few doctors pay any attention to that are called the multifidus. Those very small muscles are actually the very most important muscle group in the spine.
When we are looking at that MRI and we are showing the patient what that muscle tissue looks like; I would say to a patient typically, if you guys invited me over to your house for bbq and I brought this piece of meat over what would you think?
If you show them a normal one and you see the marbling that we all look for when we go shopping for meat and we go that’s a good piece of meat. If you bring that same piece of steak and it’s just full of fat we know that’s not a great steak.
Well, the same is true in that stabilizing function in the spine. If we look at those muscles and they are all infiltrated with fat tissue we know that they are offline, you know that they’re not working. It’s what doctors call disuse atrophy. That disuse atrophy, that weakness in those stabilizers is one of the main reasons why that spine has been subjected to injury.
So, if we are going to really heal that person, if we’re going to get that disc to recover, if we do not address those stabilizers in the rehab portion of the protocol then we are really doing that patient a disservice.
Often time’s patients will say to me, “why does it have to take 6 or 8 weeks or longer? If my pain levels start to come down am I better”? Well, no. You’re on your way to recovery. We all want pain levels to go down but if we don’t address those stabilizers and if we don’t really rehab that spine then they are just going to be headed for another fall.
Dr. Troy: Yup, no, exactly. That was the biggest thing that got my attention with the whole thing. I am going to share a little story with you. We have just a few minutes left and then we will be giving anybody who is listening a chance to call in, they can schedule a consultation with us. We also have seminars and you will hear more about that throughout this radio show.
I had a patient recently who had cortisone shots, they were told they needed surgery. They would not do any more back shots, they said sorry you’re a surgical candidate now. His MRI had annular tears and he came in with the pain level of an 8. We’ve seen his 6 times and he is now at a pain level of 1 which is great but I know he definitely is not stable.
It happens pretty quick that they function better, they feel better but the key is sticking with it and making sure that they are stable. Maybe you can just share briefly, in the next 30 seconds or so a story of a patient who you helped that suffered.
Dr. Jeff: Sure. I saw a patient whose name is Bill. He was in his mid-60s at the time and he is the CEO of a local company and Bill has had prior back surgery. He had another episode come back some years after that back surgery and he was just in really bad shape. He was scheduled for surgery and GGod intervened a little bit because when they put him on the table the anesthesiologist stopped the procedure. He had some kind of mix-up with his heart so they pulled him off the table.
He came in and saw us instead. He came in with a walker, he could barely walk. By the third visit Bill had gotten rid of that walker, he has made a long-term recovery and he is doing great. He has referred his entire family and half of his employees to out clinic.
Dr. Troy: It’s exciting when you see people who have chronic pain 5, 10 15, 20 years, even acute pain and they heal.
Interview Part 2
Welcome back everybody it’s Dr. Troy here on the special edition of Absolute life radio show. Today we are talking about non-surgical disc decompression therapy that helps people with sciatica, bulging discs, herniated discs, numbness, tingling n their legs, chronic back pain, acute back pain, injury related back pain, even spinal stenosis, people who have had failed back surgeries.
I am here with my special guest Dr. Tunick. So, Dr. Tunick, welcome back after the break. I see you got enough water so we can keep going and have a great show.
So, before the break, we were talking about some of the cases that have responded with what spinal decompression does in our clinics. Maybe you can just briefly describe again what spinal decompression is, what it does to the disc. A lot of people I’ve seen and I know you’ve seen this in over the 36 years you’ve been in practice. So between the both of us we have about 60 years of clinical knowledge
A lot of patients who come for spinal decompression therapy, they are looking at surgery, they may have been told they need spinal surgery or they’ve had surgery before. They’ve had shots. In my case, I’ve tried acupuncture, regular chiropractic, I was doing massages. You know I was doing everything but the surgery and the drugs. Being a chiropractor I was saying, there has to be something else and that’s when I found you. You really got me excited about decompression.
To be honest, in 25 years of practice there are some people that I could not help with the regular chiropractic adjustments. Maybe you can talk a little bit about decompression and who would be a good candidate? If there is somebody out there driving and they are listening to us right now what would you say to them?
Dr. Jeff: Lots of folks benefit from spinal decompression. Some of the people have had a herniated disc, bulging disc, they have pressure on a nerve, and they have sciatic pain. Some have spinal stenosis and I am really glad you mentioned that because spinal stenosis is an amazing condition to treat.
Basically, spinal stenosis is a narrowing where the nerve comes out and often times it’s due to boning growth, extra boning growth. Those people just feel like they have nothing to help them. From a surgical standpoint, it’s kind of like Rota Router. They go in there they cut away the bone, the extra boning growth and the person gets a little bit of relief but boy within 3-6 months that boning growth is back and they are suffering again. Those people can’t even walk, they can walk 10 feet and then they have to stop. Lots of times they will have leg pain, numbness, tingling, pins and needles in their leg. Those patients interestingly respond well with spinal decompression because one of the things that it does is it rehabilitates that disc, rehydrating that disc, gaining height if you will.
What I found early on in spinal stenosis patients was that the decompression process actually did gain enough height in that disc where there was1-2 millimeters, they gave enough breathing room to those nerve roots for them to actually function well.
We have watched spinal stenosis patients who couldn’t walk 10 feet knowable to walk around Costco, walk around the mall, do yard work, do all the things they used to do and do it pain-free. It is so rewarding as a clinician, you know when you see a patient recover like that and take back their life it is so rewarding.
That is probably one of my favorite classes of patients, the stenosis patients because it’s such a radicle change for them.
Dr. Troy: I get emotional when I see these cases. That’s one of the reasons I get on the radio, invite you to the radio. There are people out there who are suffering that need our help and they don’t want to go through this surgical thing or they’ve done it before.
You know, I’ve shared some cases with you. I had a girl who had surgery and now she has some permanent damage. If we could avoid that and go conservative first, that’s a lot of people that might be listening. They don’t know there is another approach, they just think it’s the traditional medical approach.
There is potential hope here for people who are suffering but they got to come in, they got to schedule a consultation. I know my patients will say, “Oh, it just feels good. I want to take a nap on the machine.” It’s not painful. The first time I got on the machine I was scared, Then I thought, you know what I actually think I am going to get some relief. I think I am a good patient and an even better doctor because I have had some experience with this thing.
Maybe share a little bit more testimonials before we wrap up our show.
Dr. Jeff: Well, let’s talk about a spinal stenosis patient.
I had a patient a few years back, her name was Sharon. She’s 72 years old, she had a big piece of property and she had her young grandson that she was taking care of, she was a custodial parent for that kid.
She had great difficulty walking, she was in a lot of pain, a lot of numbness in her leg and she went through the decompression process and God bless her, she did so well. In about 2 months she was completely recovered. She was able to walk all over her property. She is a real active person, she was doing all of the yard work for that property, taking care of that little guy and just did wonders.
I can still remember her little grandson coming in and giving me a big hug because he got his grandma back. It was just so rewarding to everyone in the clinic to see Sharon go through that recovery processed. We have had a bunch of them, stenosis patients especially that you know, I don’t want to take all of your time but we can go on and on and on with case studies.
Dr. Troy: Yeah. I mentioned the guy earlier, he was on opiates, he had back shots, back pain, leg pain of an 8. He would only get it down to a 6 with the pain killers. His daughter sent him down to us and in his first week, it was like 3 or 4 sessions and he went from pain level from 8 to a 2. He didn’t take medication that day and he came back to us and he has flared up again because he felt so good he went out mowed the lawn, washed the car and after his third or fourth visit he gave me a big hug. He goes, “man, thank you so much because I feel like I am going to get better.”
That’s what gets me up in the morning, do stuff like this and work with you. Any other cases that really stick out in your mind?
Dr. Jeff: We have had a number of cases where people have had large herniated discs, significant leg pain where they can’t walk. All different age groups. Sometimes people don’t realize that it just covers a wide range from kids in their teens up to people in their 70s, 80s, you know.
Lots of times in that herniated disc case, that person has a lot of pain sitting, when they cough, when they sneeze, they got that pain running down their leg, pins and needles, and numbness. Sitting is just miserable for them okay.
To see me. She was in her mid-40s and had tremendous sciatic pain. She could barely stand up on it and sitting was even worse. Like you described your fellow who came in with a pain level of 8 and it went down to a 2, Myra came in with a pain level of 9 and by the third visit, she was a zero.
Dr. Troy: Wow!
Dr. Jeff: Talk about impressive!
Dr. Troy: This stuff works fast!
Dr. Jeff: She’s a big gal, you know me Dr. Troy I’m a little guy (laughs), she picked me up right off the floor and gave me a super hug and she dancing around the reception area. To see her do that after a week of care where she had so much trouble on intake was just really rewarding.
That’s one of the things that you and I, when we became chiropractors, that’s one of the things that gets us in the office every day. Just to see stuff like that happen.
Dr. Troy: It’s all about results, that’s really what it is. If you’ve tried different therapies, whether it’s traditional chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, traditional medical care, decompression might be right for you. Especially with these chronic back pain situations, sciatica, even acute injuries.
I had a car recent accident patient that I was doing the traditional approach with and she actually motivated me to buy the machine. I was looking to get one and then I said, yeah I’m going to buy it now because you’re suffering and what we are doing is not working.
Now she is like 90%vbetter and back to work. It has been an amazing journey.
Dr. Jeff: If you’re frustrated, you know you and your doctor are both frustrated and you just feel like there has not been a solution for you; like the doctor said the only thing you have to lose by seeing us is the pain. The pain and more important to me, the disability.
All of those things that we take for granted that you have been unable to do, whether it’s playing with your grandkids, doing the yard work just the simple thing that doctors refer to as the activities of daily living. Getting dressed in the morning, just those little simple things that have become some tedious and impossible for you to do just remember what he said, the only thing you have to lose is the pain.
Dr. Troy: Yeah, absolutely. So, Dr. Jeff I really appreciate you coming into the studio and I want to let people know that they can come to our offices and get checked.
Schedule a consultation with us. We encourage people to bring their MRIs if they have those or bring the report, x-rays, any imaging you have please bring that with you.
And I always tell patients, you just mentioned this, what do you have to lose but the pain. That’s really what we are after, we want to get results. If we can’t help you we will let you know but if we can help you that is the journey we want to start you on. We want to get your quality of life back.
Dr. Jeff: Can I?
Dr. Troy: Absolutely.
Dr. Jeff: For any of you who have had back surgery 1 or more, do not feel like you can’t be helped. We have helped a significant number of people who have had back surgery and failed and have finally through non-surgical decompression have been able to take back their life. I would encourage you not to give up hope!
Dr. Troy: Excellent, a good point Dr. Jeff. So call the Spinal Decompression Group, the number is (360) 3260-6903. We will schedule you an appointment with one of our doctors either in Vancouver or in Portland, call the office (360) 260-6903.
Reserve your consultation with a doctor for only $25. I want to mention we work with most insurance companies. Many times insurance companies will help cover the cost of the program that we’re putting together. So call our office, (360) 260-6903 to see if we can help you get your life back on track from chronic or acute back pain.