What Powerlifters Taught Me About Treating Intervertebral Discs

Prob­lems of the inter­ver­te­bral discs are a com­mon cause of seri­ous low back pain. The discs are espe­cial­ly like­ly to be involved when the pain shoots down the leg or is accom­pa­nied by numb­ness or mus­cle weak­ness.

Many patients can be helped with hands-on chi­ro­prac­tic meth­ods. But when disc prob­lems are bad enough, some­thing extra is need­ed. That’s why, more than ten years ago, I became one of the first physi­cians in New York to intro­duce lum­bar decom­pres­sion with the DRX-9000.

The DRX-9000 is effec­tive for her­ni­at­ed, bulging, or degen­er­at­ed discs. It opens up the space between the ver­te­brae to relieve pres­sure on pinched nerves and allow the disc to rebuild.

But when I first began using the DRX-9000, I had a problem

On occa­sion a patient’s low back feels more vul­ner­a­ble and unsta­ble after a treat­ment. They need a sta­bi­liz­ing hand even to stand up with­out buck­ling. They feel that a slight­ly wrong move­ment would trig­ger even worse pain.

The reac­tion usu­al­ly only lasts a few min­utes. An hour at the most. But ten years ago, when I was first using this treat­ment pro­to­col, I didn’t know how to inter­pret the response.

Nat­u­ral­ly, I wor­ried. I wor­ried that I was doing the right thing. Maybe my diag­no­sis was incor­rect. Maybe I set the machine to pull too strong­ly. Or I wor­ried that maybe that par­tic­u­lar per­son just wasn’t suit­ed to treat­ment with the DRX-9000.

For­tu­nate­ly, instead of being stuck in an end­less cycle of wor­ry, I was able to adapt some of the prin­ci­ples of ath­let­ic train­ing to form a more com­plete pic­ture of the changes in the inter­ver­te­bral disc as it degen­er­ates, gets injured, and then heals.

One thing bodybuilders know a lot about

The aes­thet­ic stan­dards of body­builders leave me cold.

But they know their sci­ence. There’s a phys­i­o­log­i­cal basis for the exer­cise strate­gies used to max­i­mize the build-up of mus­cle tis­sue.

The body-builder plan is to train intense­ly and over­load the mus­cle to actu­al­ly break down some of the fibers.

In the short run, your mus­cle will be weak­er. And you’ll feel sore.

But the over­load expe­ri­ence will stim­u­late the body to rebuild the mus­cle to be bulki­er and stronger than before.

If instead you per­form mere­ly mod­er­ate exer­cise you might see a mod­est strength gain. But the effect occurs through an entire­ly dif­fer­ent mech­a­nism. With mod­er­ate exer­cise, the brain learns to con­nect bet­ter to your mus­cles, so you can mar­shal more of your exist­ing pow­er.

But you haven’t gained any mus­cle bulk or increased your poten­tial to gen­er­ate pow­er. You haven’t anatom­i­cal­ly rein­forced your mus­cle fibers. To actu­al­ly stim­u­late the body to build mus­cle, you have to work hard enough to cause fiber break­down.

Treat­ment with the DRX-9000 works on the inter­vete­bral disc in near­ly the same way.

The decom­pres­sion ses­sion over­loads the con­nec­tive tis­sue fibers of the disc. Some of them get bro­ken down. You feel weak­er and more sore — for a few min­utes.

The pay­off is that your body rebuilds to become even stronger.

The DRX-9000 does more than get you out of pain. The pur­pose of the treat­ment is to stim­u­late regen­er­a­tion of the disc. Tak­ing anti-inflam­ma­to­ry drugs doesn’t do it. Epidur­al injec­tions or spinal surgery don’t do it. Only non-sur­gi­cal lum­bar decom­pres­sion achieves this effect.

Patients who have expe­ri­enced an 18–20 vis­it decom­pres­sion pro­gram typ­i­cal­ly con­tin­ue to enjoy good spinal health for years into the future, with­out a neg­a­tive whis­per from their discs.

Now I know better

I still wor­ry some­times.

But now I wor­ry if my patients aren’t get­ting a strong enough force to break down some of their disc fibers. I warn them that their low back might feel a lit­tle dicey tem­porar­i­ly after a treat­ment. And I can nurse them through that imme­di­ate reac­tion by apply­ing ice to the low back and mak­ing sure they wear a lum­bar sup­port belt.

I make sure they receive all the poten­tial ben­e­fits of lum­bar decom­pres­sion treat­ment:

• reliev­ing pain
• tak­ing pres­sure off the nerves
• rebuild­ing dam­aged discs to allow for many years free of low back trou­bles


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

The chem­istry of bulging disc treat­ment

Disc dam­age can be reversed



About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.
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