WAYNE FITCHER JR.: Getting on your nerves: Spinal compression

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Cervical radiculopathy is a condition caused by compression of the nerve roots as they pass through the cervical vertebrae. You may have symptoms that include neck pain, stiffness, and decreased ability to move the neck. Because the nerves that pass through this region of your neck also go all the way to the tips of your fingers, other symptoms may occur. These include weakness and numbness of the arms, pain or tingling sensations that travel down one or both arms, hand pain and numb fingers.

The degenerative changes of the cervical spine and surrounding soft tissue (ligaments and disc) take years to develop. Poor posture, overuse, and trauma (whiplash injury) are also contributing factors.

There are different options to treat these conditions including: surgery, pain medication, physical therapy, and non-invasive spinal decompression. Cervical Decompression is a non-surgical, non-narcotic treatment protocol to help alleviate symptoms of cervical disc degeneration, neck pain and radiculopathy. Decompression is often confused with traction. Traction is defined as the act of pulling, while decompression, on the other hand, is defined as the act of relieving pressure. Traction is a static pull where decompression is computerized and causes what I call an oscillating affect. This oscillating effect creates a negative pressure within the disc to promote retraction of the herniated or bulging disc material. It also creates a lower pressure in the disc that will cause an influx of healing nutrients and other substances into the disc. As the disc retracts it relieves pressure off of the nerve root that is causing the symptoms. The influx of nutrients and water back into the disc help the disc begin to get healthy and as a result, the symptoms improve.

European Musculoskeletal Review in 2007 stated that “Vertebral axial decompression should not be considered as traction in the traditional sense, but as decompression it is the only non-invasive treatment that has been proved to decompress only the disc.” By isolating the disc we can effectively treat the patient. In 2010, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders performed a study on the restoration of disc height through spinal decompression. The conclusion to that study is pretty amazing. “Non-surgical decompression was associated with the reduction in pain and an increase in disc height. The correlation of these variables suggests that pain reduction may be mediated, at least in part, through a restoration of disc height.” By helping increase the disc height, it helps relieve the pressure off of the nerve root. Thus, relieving symptoms.

Spinal decompression can also be utilized in the low back to help low back pain, sciatica and degenerative disc disease.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene.

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