A patient recently asked…
“My family has a history of degenerative disc disease and I have suffered from lower back pain for several years. I am sick of relying on painkillers. Is there anything else that might have a lasting effect?”
I answered: About 84% of women and men suffer from serious back pain at some point in their lives. Many cases can be attributed to degenerative disc disease, which occurs with age and causes the spine’s shock-absorbing inter vertebral disc to shift and break down, putting pressure on nearby nerves. There are several types of therapies I recommend since people tend to gravitate towards different approaches.
The first is any type of non-weight bearing exercise, which focuses on body alignment. How does one “not bear weight?” Well, one could swim, do gentle pilates, yoga, or other passive stretching or massage modalities. A study in the Journal Spine found the people with chronic back pain who did Iyengar Yoga for example, experienced a 42% greater reduction in pain compared with those who used conventional remedies such as pain relievers.
The second therapy option is acupuncture, which is said to stimulate the production of pain-relieving endorphins. In one study, acupuncture relieved chronic back pain better than over the counter pain relievers.
In general, I tend to limit the use of pain-relieving pharmaceutical medications. They are OK to be used in crises, but not on the chronic basis, they can cause gastric ulcer, heart disease, and kidney disease to mention a few side effects. It is much more prudent to take preventive measures, which brings me to a third type of complementary approach to LBP: a good quality supplement with Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM. In my office, I use Douglas Labs formula called Ultra Joint Forte and I dose it one tablet 3 times/day.
In a recent study, people who took Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM supplement for two years has lower back MRIs which revealed brightening of the intervertebral disc signal, which is a reliable measure of its regeneration status.
Another great integrative modality that can be used to treat low back pain and/or degenerative disc disease is Ondamed (pictured right above). Ondamed is a pulsed low frequency electromagnetic fields device, which I have been successfully using in my practice for over 10 years. I have treated a variety of musculoskeletal conditions with this machine, from DJD and Osteoarthritis to Sprained ligaments and fractured bones. Combined with weight loss, healthy eating, supplements, and proper exercise, Ondamed treatment allows the majority of patients to live healthier, pain-free lives without medications or surgery. I am one of the very few medical doctors in the United States who are trained to use Ondamed technology. If you would like more information about Ondamed, feel free to call my office at 212-580-0900 or contact me via email here.
Here is to your health!