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April 2019 Health Newsletter

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April 2019






Dear Patients and Friends,


Many of you already know that I had underwent spinal surgery this past year for an episode of severe sciatica.  The condition began as a result of lifting a 50 pound bag of salt in a rather somewhat twisted and bent position.  I felt no pain at the time, but approximately 15 minutes later I thought, "oh no, something happened to my back."  I have had back problems before, and the pain has always resolved in a relatively short time with spinal adjustments, ice, and gentle rehab. 


This episode of pain was different.  Within a few days my pain level went from back spasms and restricted movements to a severe and incapacitating leg pain that ran from my lower back to my left leg and foot.  Where did I go for help?  First of all, I went to three different chiropractors to see if any of their various methods might help me resolve this problem.  I have never been let down by chiropractic care, but this time nothing seemed to help. 


In the meantime my condition was getting worse.  I was in constant pain. I couldn't sleep.  I couldn't golf. I could hardly move.  I could barely get out of bed in the morning to get ready for work.  It took forever for me to get up, get going, and be on my way to help my patients.


In spite of the pain, I kept working.  No one knew that I was worse than any of the patients that I was seeing.  It was all I could do to finish at the office and get in bed with the ice pack.  Ibuprofen was taken on a somewhat regular basis to see if I could help reduce the pain in my leg and back.  Nothing helped.


I knew I was in trouble.  I suspected a ruptured or herniated disc was the underlying problem.  I saw my family doctor, an osteopathic physician, and he ordered an MRI study of my lower back to see what was causing this episode of severe sciatica.  The results came back, and the diagnosis was a rather significant disc protrusion between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae that was pinching my sciatic nerve.


What did the doctor recommend?  A medrol dose pack..a 6 day prescription of prednisone.  Did that help?  No.  After that didn't work, what did the doctor recommend.  The answer, another medrol dose pack.  I gave it a try.  Did another round of prednisone help? Not one bit.


Now what does one do?  Next I consulted with one of my colleagues and referral doctors at a pain management clinic.  What did the pain management doctor recommend?  He recommended a cortisone shot in the area where the disc was bulging.  Did that help?  NO. 


So what did he recommend next.  The answer....Gabapentin, a medication that is often given for nerve pain.  I told him Gabapentin wasn't going to work because it wasn't going to fix the cause.  He said try it, so i did.  Did Gabapentin help? No.


What did the pain management doctor suggest next.  He said," let's try another cortisone shot."  So we did.  Did that help? Not one bit.


After approximately 3 months of incapacitating, unrelenting and severe back and leg pain there weren't too many options left.  This condition was significantly affecting my life in the most negative way.  I knew that I needed to consult with a neurosurgeon to get his opinion on whether this was a surgical case.


A noted Tucson neurosurgeon was consulted, and he said, "Craig...you have the easiest type of disc for me to help.  In the past 2 days, you are the first one that I am actually recommending spine surgery. All you need is a 45-60 minute micro-discectomy and the problem should be resolved."  My response....sign me up!  I was scheduled for surgery within a few days of consulting with the neurosurgeon, and I then had a discectomy on my birthday in early June, 2018.


What were the results?  Mostly good.  The next day I went for a walk around the block with absolutely no leg or back pain.  I was so happy with the results. Almost miraculously the pain was totally gone.  But, this result only lasted for one day.....until all of the drugs, including Fentynayl, wore off.  Two days after surgery I started to have burning and tingling in my foot and ankle that has not resolved to this day.  The neurosurgeon says it might take a year......and then again, it might be permanent.


The best thing I can say about surgery is that my life is mostly back to normal.  I am functioning at a high level.  I am able to work, and I am back at the golf course.  My day isn't spent in bed, and I am able to sleep.  I am certainly a lot better than the day before surgery. 


What did I learn from this personal experience of severe sciatica and spine surgery? 


1.  Everything I have been telling you is true.  I have seen thousands and thousand of patiets get better with simple spinal adjustments.  It is always my recommendation that you always try chiropractic carefirst.  Chiropractic care the most conservative, sensible, and effective  approach for back and neck pain. Typically, your body has a miraculous ability to heal and repair, and spinal adjustments help the body to do just that.  In the rare event that conservative chiropractic care doesn't help, there are other options. 


2.  Drugs and shots seldom work.  They don't treat the cause of the problem.  If one is in incapacitating pain, it's reasonable to try pain pills, muscle relaxants, and cortisone shots.  However, this approach is often a road to nowhere. 


3.  Physical therepy and exercise is seldom the answer for back and leg pain because the problem is usually related to the bio-mechanics and structure of the spine.  Physical therapists treat muscle problems, and most chronic and difficult back problems are more complicated than simple muscle sprain and strain.  PT's cannot read x-rays, or perform imaging studies. Physical therapists are usually doing guesswork.  No exercise is going to heal or repair disc degeneration, disc rupture, spinal stenosis or misalignment.  You need a great chiropractor on your health team.


4.  Neurosurgeons are highly skilled and trained.  There is a time and place for surgery, and these doctors are very good at what they do.  If you are experiencing unrelenting pain that is significantly altering your life in a negative way, you need to have a conference with a really good spine doctor.  However, as even they will tell you, spinal surgery should be a last resort, and spinal surgery is not recommended for all back conditions.  Even spinal surgeons have limitations in what they can effectively treat.


5.  Chiropractors and medical doctors need to work together to resolve pain. Probably the biggest lesson that I have learned from this experience is that I will quickly refer a patient back to their MD, or refer the patient to urgent care for pain management.  It's no fun to be in pain.  Pain makes you grumpy, mean, short-tempered and difficult to be around.  It's a simple fact that medical doctors have the drugs that can help relieve while your body is healing.  If you need medical pain management.....get it.  I would only make the suggestion that you avoid the drugs like oxycontin that are so addictive.


I still believe, with all my heart, that chiropractic is the simplest, most effective and most conservative way to deal with back and neck pain.  Chiropractors have been helping patients for over 100 years, and millions of people have benefitted with simple spinal adjustments.  Chiropractors work on the cause of the problem, not the symptoms.  However, the symptomatic picture also needs to be addressed for the patient that is experiencing severe pain.


My advice:  You need both an excellent chiropractor and a great MD on your health team.  We just do different things.  A doctor of chiropractic specializes in spinal bio-mechanics, and the doctor of medicine is a specialist in bio-chemistry.  When you are experiencing back or neck pain you may need the best of both professions.


In better health,


Dr. Craig W. Brue, DC








Current Articles

» Live in a High-Income Country? Donít Expect the Highest Life Expectancy
» Young and Overweight? Your Heart May Suffer
» ADHD May Be on the Rise in U.S. Children

Live in a High-Income Country? Donít Expect the Highest Life Expectancy

Two new studies are revealing some startling facts about recent life expectancies in high-income countries like the U.S.: They're declining, but for surprising reasons. The first of the studies examined life expectancy trends among 18 countries with high income. Overwhelmingly, most of them experienced simultaneous declines in 2015 for the first time in decades. In the U.S., drug overdoses due to the opioid epidemic are to blame for a large number of young adult deaths. In other high-income countries, a harsh flu was mostly behind declining life expectancies during the 2014-2015 season. Most were able to rebound their rates during 2015-2016, but the U.K. and the U.S. were not among them. Meanwhile, a second study adds that the opioid epidemic is just the beginning Ė deaths from alcohol abuse and suicide are also on the rise in the U.S., not to mention death during middle age due to diseases of the organs, including the heart, digestive system, and lungs. The second study also suggests that lower life expectancies may have psychological and socioeconomic origins. In short, what causes people in low socioeconomic groups to make bad health choices like smoking, abusing alcohol, and eating unhealthy foods?† The German researchers behind the study, from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, suggest that stress from income inequality, social exclusion, and more can be the starting point.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: The BMJ, online August 22, 2018.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2019

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Young and Overweight? Your Heart May Suffer

Young adults who are overweight are at high risk for high blood pressure and damage to the heart, just like older adults. According to a study from the U.K.'s University of Bristol, the correlation between a high BMI (body mass index) and cardiovascular issues applies to young people, too. To come to their conclusions, researchers studied data collected from over 3,000 young people born during the '90s, who were 17 years old when the study took place. Researchers also looked at the cardiovascular scans of 400 high-risk, 21-year-old adults. The 17-year-olds' average BMI was in the so-called "healthy" range. The average blood pressure of the group was also in the range considered "healthy" (under 130 mmHg for a systolic reading and under 80 mmHg for a diastolic reading).† In general, young adults who had higher BMIs in the study also had a better chance of developing high blood pressure. They additionally found that having a high BMI correlates to a higher left ventricular mass index (meaning the left ventricle of the heart is enlarged). This means that the young adults who weighed more correspondingly had more blood pumping through their bodies every minute. Over time, this may lead to a variety of heart issues, including a thickened heart muscle and high blood pressure. According to a Harvard Medical School researcher, this may be because those at a higher weight have bodies with higher metabolic demands. They may also have more inflammation due to their increased amount of fat cells.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: Circulation, online July 30, 2018.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2019

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ADHD May Be on the Rise in U.S. Children

According to a new study published in JAMA Network Open, diagnoses of children with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) have increased significantly since 1997. Researchers found that the diagnosis rate for children with ADHD increased from 6.1% in 1997 to 10.2% in 2016. However, according to Dr. Wei Bao, there could be lots of reasons for this dramatic rise. For example, doctors are much better at diagnosing ADHD than they were 20 years ago. Dr. Bao also said that more people today are aware of the condition and its symptoms, which can lead to more kids getting screened and subsequently diagnosed. Bao and his fellows are researchers at the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. They came to their conclusions by reviewing the National Health Interview Survey over 20 years. In particular, they honed in on answers to one question: Whether survey-takers' children had ever been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD (attention-deficit disorder). For scope, the most recent iteration of the survey from 2015-2016 collected data on over 18,000 children from age 4-17. Of that number, nearly 2,000 received an ADHD diagnosis. Though the research results are startling, experts advise parents and doctors to take the increase in children with ADHD with a grain of salt. This is because ADHD is commonly misdiagnosed.

Author: ChiroPlanet.com
Source: JAMA Network Open, online August 31, 2018.
Copyright: ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC 2019

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