Specialized Spinal Disc Treatment –
Back Pain Epidemic with Dr. Troy on 93.9 KPDQ #20
Mike Lee (Host):
Welcome to Innovative Spine Care with Dr. Troy on 93.9. KPDQ. Mike Lee here with Dr. Troy M. Dreiling, Doctor of Chiropractic who serves as the Vice President of the International Disc Education Association, here in the masterclass certificate on non-surgical spinal decompression, and he’s triple certified in it.
Troy, what exactly is the “Back Pain Epidemic”?
Well, that’s an epidemic. And it’s pretty large. There are some studies out there right now talking about this, where chronic low back pain is. It is interesting because chronic low back pain affects anywhere from a hundred million to 120 million Americans. And they estimate that it costs the system anywhere from $560 to $630 billion a year for people that have chronic low back pain. And the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have documented this, and they say that we need a better way to manage people with these kinds of pain problems.
It’s interesting right now because there’s a big push in Medicare to expand the conservative care approach to treating chronic low back pain. So it’s an overlooked thing because, you know, chronic low back pain doesn’t cause death right away, like a car accident or cancer or a heart attack. So they overlook it and they spend money in other areas.
But the problem is, it’s zapping our healthcare resources. You know, in 2008, 7.3 million people visited the ER room with a low back pain episode. And I’ve had patients come in and say, “Yeah, I went to the ER”. And I reply, “Well, what did they do for you?” They basically said, “They gave me a shot”.
And you know, obviously, in the emergency room, they want to make sure you’re not having a heart attack or a stroke, but there’s a lot of hospital visits related to chronic low back pain. And it’s quite interesting, the more I look at this and the more I study this, I find that people suffer chronic low back pain and they don’t know what to do about it. It is a really debilitating condition.
Mike Lee (Host):
Troy, what have you seen in more than 28 years working at your clinical practice that leads people down the chronic low back pain path?
That’s a really good question, Mike. Because you know a lot of people like my staff will do this – they’ll come in and they say, “Well, this person didn’t have a car accident. They didn’t have a fall”. And so that is the obvious thing; where you lift a case of water, you twist your back putting it in your shopping cart at Costco; All of a sudden your back locks up on you and you have pain down your leg; and it’s hard to go to the bathroom; and get in and outta your car and roll over in bed.
Those are obvious, but usually what I see is it is more lifestyle related. A lot of people will say, “Oh, my mom had a bad back, my dad had a bad back, my grandpa had a bad back”. And then we dig a little deeper. Well, what did grandpa do? What did your dad do? Well, grandpa, you know, he was a farmer, and then dad was a farmer, and then he was an office worker, and then he was a machinist, worked in a warehouse.
And so what do you do? Well, I, I do the same thing now. I install floor. So a lot of this is from micro traumas over time. And, you know, when we’re younger – in our early teens – a lot of teens play sports and they’re active. And I see a lot of active people who still want to be active when they’re 40 and 50 and 60 and 70. In their mind, they still think they’re 20 or 30 and they don’t listen to their body. They may try to hush nature’s protest with some sort of medication or some sort of injection or another sort of therapy that intervenes with and diminishes pain.
But the problem is that the body, over time, mechanically starts to break down. I had a mechanic the other day in the office, Mike and I said to him, “You’re a machinist. You’ve been doing this for 40 years, working on equipment in a warehouse”. And I said, “You know, your body is breaking down just like your equipment does, so you gotta take care of it”.
It’s fascinating because the other day I had a patient, I said, “You probably take better care of your car than you do your body. You probably don’t get it. You probably get your car tuned up and checked out regularly”. And the guy was like, “Yeah”. And I said, “Well, same thing with your spine. You gotta make sure that that things checked and tuned up regularly”. So I see the chronic low back pain stories. These are usually people that do repetitive stressful activities. Or, they may have had a trauma or two, or three or four and they’re looking for answers.
Mike Lee (Host):
Dr. Troy, what are the classic types of treatment that people have attempted before coming to see you?
That’s a really good question. You know, a lot of people come to us and we tend to be the last resort. You know, they think primary care medical doctors are spine care experts. And the fact of the matter is, if you look at a traditional medical doctor, a general practitioner who gets outta school versus a spine doctor chiropractor, whose primary practice is spine care, well we actually have more classroom hours to get our healthcare degree than medical doctors do.
We not only focus on the spine, but we also focus on nutrition. So a lot of people will go down the mainstream medical road and you know, they go in and they give them a prescription, a pain killer, a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory, an antipsychotic. And if that doesn’t work, they go back and say, “Hey doc, this isn’t working”. And then they change the dosage or they change the medication so people can play that game, you know, and they’ve maybe tried over-the-counter Advil, Tylenol, I remember one guy had to come in to see me, he was taking 18 Advil a day!
Mike, just think about what that does to your kidneys. You know, so here’s somebody, they’re on medication and then they may go to physical therapy, but you know, if there’s a disc disorder as you might expect, I tell patients in the first two weeks I don’t want you doing anything! You can walk lightly, you can swim. But if you have a disc condition, we gotta get that thing to settle down.
You know, a lot of people come in and think, Oh, I’m gonna be fixed when I come in. But the problem is if we have a disc issue, those things are a can of worms and if you do too much, you can re-aggravate the discs, and the nerves, and cause a lot of problems. So physical therapy could be something they’ve tried, and acupuncture could have been something they tried. Massage might be something they’ve done.
Even traditional chiropractic where you hear the popping sounds and they do a high-velocity maneuver. And then there are some patients who’ve had injections. I had a lady just yesterday come in, she said the injections aren’t working anymore. They might’ve had a nerve ablation where they burned the nerve. And the problem with that is it tends to regrow. I had one guy, who had 12 of those prior to coming in to see me. He was spending about $3,000 per radiofrequency ablation.
And then I might see some patients who’ve had discectomies where they remove part of the disc or a laminectomy where they remove part of the spine or even a fusion or multiple fusions. And so a lot of people come to us and they’ll say, I don’t want any more medication. OR they say “This particular therapy made me worse and the surgery, I don’t want another surgery. It made me worse”. So these are some of the things that we see people come in with, who have tried different therapies prior to stepping into our office,
Mike Lee (Host):
Taking half a bottle of Advil a day can’t be good for you.
<laugh>. Yeah, there’s some serious kidney damage and liver damage going on there. At least high levels of toxicity.
Mike Lee (Host):
Troy, what forms of treatment intervention do you offer that can give people relief and hope? And can you explain the positive benefits of using spinal decompression therapy?
Absolutely, yes. You know, spinal decompression has been a lifesaver for me. Cuz you know, my story is I had three herniated discs, two-disc tears, and I couldn’t walk. And I was one of those guys that tried a lot of the other traditional therapies with no relief. And so I got into decompression about 10 years ago. If a patient has a disc-related issue, and you remember, earlier in the show we said that over a million Americans right now suffer from chronic low back pain. And so, if they’ve got chronic low back pain, you know, it could be associated with disc degeneration, disc bulges, disc herniation, or it could be associated with thickening of the ligaments around the spine because the spine’s not been functioning properly for a long time. So spinal decompression is a gentle therapy. What it does is that it helps distract the vertebra gently.
A lot of patients will tell us they don’t feel very much when we put them on the table. And that’s actually a good thing. I don’t want them to hurt. Pain is a bad sign. If the patient goes to another clinic and they do therapy and it hurts, and the doctor says, “oh, just a few more times, let’s just see how it goes”, they should walk away.
In our office, we say, say low and slow, we treat them real easy. Discs like to be babied and pampered. They don’t like to be aggravated. So spinal decompression, what it does, it helps drop the disc pressure. It helps create a vacuum between the pulled-apart discs, which pulls in water and nutrients back into the space between discs, helping the disc to rehydrate. There are studies that show that you can actually increase disc height anywhere from one to three millimeters, which is usually enough to take the pressure off the spinal cord and or the nerve roots to give people the relief that they’re looking for.
And we also combine it with laser therapy. We sometimes use CBD creme or topical analgesics and we like to do bracing and support. There’s a lot of research out there showing that if we prescribe them a lubo sacral support or a brace following treatment, it really helps reduce and stabilize the disc-related disorder. Another technique we use is called flexion distraction. So we can segmentally mobilize the various segments of the spine, in order to get the disc pressure to drop and to open up the facet joints, which are the joints in the back of the vertebra that a lot of people have chronic irritation with as well.
So we’ve seen some really great results using spinal decompression. The protocol that we use was developed by Dr. Sheely. He’s a neurosurgeon. He’s trained at Harvard, and taught at Duke. It is pretty amazing that this technology’s been around for over 20 years. That’s why I like to get on the radio to help explain to people – there are other conservative ways to treat and manage chronic low back pain.
Mike Lee (Host):
Troy, so many of your patients are actually referrals from other successful cases that you’ve helped out with. So what types of cases have you assisted with lately?
I wanna share two stories that really are exciting. The first one was a patient who came to see me. She was in her mid-forties. She actually had experienced two prior low back surgeries. She had discectomies. That’s where they go in there and cut the bulge with hopes to take the pressure off the cord. And she didn’t really have a good outcome with those. When she came to see us, this was just eight weeks ago, and her low back pain was at 10. At the best, she was still averaging about an eight. But if she did any activities, walking, moving, lifting, twisting, bending, it would go to a 10. She also had chronic neck pain at seven. And so we recommended a series of spinal decompression with laser therapy, inflection, distraction with bracing, and some home exercises. And we just did her re-exam just the other day.
She reported she was 90% better. Her low back was at a low one, 5% of the day. So she went from a chronic (continuous) eight, one hundred percent of the time, flaring up to ten, down to a one, 5% of the day. Her neck was a seven. Her neck’s now at a one. She actually had two disc tears when she brought her MRI to see us. And she is happy. She was referred in by another patient who had experienced a successful outcome.
And this is very common for people we see, who have had prior surgeries. Fusion discectomies, Lamin Ectomies, and surgery is not a panacea that fixes everything. You know, there are complications that go with it. I have another lady who just came to see us, just yesterday actually, and she was in a car accident four years ago. She actually had a brain injury, so she was suffering from brain injury issues that she got addressed through doing some rehab.
But she presented with chronic headaches and she’s presented with pain going down into her right arm, numbness, and tingling weakness. And it was a very specific pain pattern. The numbness and tingling are in her thumb and her pointer finger, and that stems from the sixth cervical nerve root. So we did some orthopedic tests. She had diminished reflexes, she had a loss of sensation in those dermatomes or those nerve root patterns.
We traced the nerve right back to which the disc was irritating the nerve. And we took some x-rays of her and we found the hole that the nerve sits in was being narrowed because of the lack of disc height. And we know when the disc loses height, it’s losing fluid and it’s gonna create nerve root compression. And we did some orthopedic tests. Sure enough, we found if you compress that nerve root more, it would light her up if you distracted the spine to open that up.
She got immediate relief upon her first decompression session. She told us “Yeah, I feel, I feel my hand!” You know it is like when you fall asleep on your hand and it starts to wake up, it starts to tingle for me. That’s a good sign. That means we’re getting oxygen back to the nerve. She also said she felt this cool sensation in her neck after her first treatment and she was super excited to start care she’d been dealing with this for four years. Nobody said to her previously, “Hey, let’s decompress your spine”. And from the get-go, she’s like, no one has ever told me this before. It was amazing. She’s like, “I have hope again!”. She almost started crying because she was so excited that she finally found something that she thinks is gonna be able to help her. And after her first session, I said, “You’re on the right path, and it’s, I hope we’re gonna have success here”. And it looks that way. Mike,
Mike Lee (Host):
Does insurance help out with treatment costs?
It really depends on your insurance. You know the old saying, you get what you pay for. People come in sometimes and they have a really cheap policy, where they are paying 20 bucks a month, and I’ve had some people that have a policy they’re paying 3000 a month. And so it really depends on your policy. That’s why we check policies and if there’s a benefit, we’ll work with that. If there’s no benefit, I say it doesn’t matter. We’ll make care affordable, the best we can so that you can get the care you need.
And you know, if you look at the average cost of what it takes to do back surgery, just to do endoscopic back surgery could be $6,000 to $8,000. Spinal fusion could be $60,000. A laminectomy could be $85,000. And our average back pain cases are anywhere from $5,000 to $6,000. That is, if you look at all the medical procedures combined, the average treatment for back pain is $5,000 to $6,000.
And we’re way more affordable than that. And I think we get better results in many cases. And we don’t have the complications, we don’t have the downtime, we don’t have the infections, the nerve damage, the disability that could be associated with invasive procedures. So it’s a really exciting time to see what we are offering at Disc Centers of America because I really think we’re on the cutting edge and offer a progressive way of helping people relieve chronic low back pain.
Come in, and schedule a consultation. If you have any imaging, such as an MRI or previous x-rays, bring those. Get those on a CD, bring them to me, and let me take a look at them. I’ll let you know what I can do. If I can help, we will let you know. If I don’t think I can help you, I’ll let you know that as well and try to find somebody that I think might be able to help you further.
Just pick up the phone, call our office and we’d be happy to take care of you.
Call 360-727-0455 to schedule if you are suffering from herniated discs, sciatica, low back pain, spinal stenosis, neck pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands. Or if you know someone who is call 360-727-0455 or you can even chat live with them on the website, vancouverdisccenter.com. That’s vancouverdisccenter.com. Dr. Troy, thanks so much for improving our lives.
Hey, you are welcome. I’m glad to be on the show today, Mike.
Mike Lee (Host):
And thank you for joining us on Innovative Spine Care with Dr. Troy on 93.9 KPDQ
Disc Centers of America. A call to us can change your life.