Disc Problem Letter

How would an osteopath treat a herniated disc? I just had an MRI, and found out I have one in the lumbar area as well as degenerative disc disease ... I ... don't think our major medical institutions even have any osteopaths...

A good osteopathic physician treats a person relatively the same way regardless of the disease that is present.

That is to say the D.O. examines a person and treats the problems present (the ones he finds at that moment that the patient's body is currently treating). The disease or diagnosis often does not matter so much, though we never lose sight of it. This system of medicine is oriented towards treating and increasing the level of health, not the disease process.

So each person receives individualized treatment. Two people with the same disease do not get the same type of treatment, though some things may be similar.

As you can see there is no set regime for treating a herniated disc. Obviously the treating physician would pay attention to the area where the symptoms are present, but it may or may not be a focal point of treatment.

For example, I had a new patient complaining of arm pain due to a herniated cervical disc. I examined him and found most of his problems were related to the lower extremities. So I treated only his legs the first 2 treatments and by this alone, his symptoms abated 85%.

That being said, most disc problems that I have treated have resulted from a great deal of contraction in the spinal ligaments and muscles over a long period of time, putting pressure on the disc (squeezing it) and the associated structures that help anchor the disc. This long term pressure weakens the ligaments and the disc can bulge or herniate. If there is a congenital weak ligamentum flavum, it makes matters worse.

Diet can often play a significant factor in chronic weakening of the ligamentous structure.There is often inadequate intake of high quality protein, affecting the quality of the tissues.

What I perceive osteopathy doing for the problem is decreasing the compression on the disc, which makes more space for it, and allows the anatomy to return to a more normal state.

Don't think all disc problems are easy to treat and respond quickly. It is variable. Some I have referred for surgery or prolotherapy, though the majority have responded well.