Myth 5: Invasive-Procedures
Since when did we start asking “I wonder WHICH medication or procedure is right for me?” instead of asking the real question “I wonder IF medications or procedures are right for me?”—Dr. Ben Grams, Chiropractor of Little Falls MN
Watch Your Step
Millions have bought into the lie that if one medication doesn’t relieve your pain, another one will instead of seeking help from someone like a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN. It may have to be stronger. You may need a doctor’s prescription. It may cost you an arm and a leg—heck, you may have to insert, infuse, or inject the medication into your arm and your leg—but, by golly, it’s going to work.
Pain sufferers aren’t the only ones who have fallen for this lie; the whole pain industry, including most doctors and a few Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, have too. We’ve come to think that the answer to back and neck pain is 1) better forms of medication delivered more specifically and/or 2) technology applied more directly. When ice, rest, pain pills, and muscle relaxants—the standard medical approach for back and neck pain—have failed (big surprise) the next step is onto a slippery slope: invasive procedures.
Before I as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN explain how all medications and invasive procedures—which is any treatment that requires the breaking of skin for direct entry into the body are fundamentally flawed and will never, ever be able to get you pain-free I want to bust a myth behind a type of treatment that is performed on thousands of pain sufferers every day.
“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result”
— Albert Einstein
For nearly half a century, chemicals ranging from Botox (a toxin that paralyzes muscles) to lidocaine (what dentists use to numb your teeth) have been loaded into syringes and injected into the sorest spots of people’s necks and backs, such as the:
– Epidural space: the area surrounding your spinal cord (the procedure is better known as an “epidural.”)
– Facets: small joints that stabilize your spine.
– Trigger points: ultra-knotted parts of tight muscle.
– Nerve: the nerve that is transmitting the pain (the procedure is better known as a “nerve block.”)
The whole idea is to inject numbing chemicals into the painful areas… and hope for the best. Please, don’t fall victim to this myth but consult this Chiropractor of Little Falls MN. These procedures are not all they’re cracked up to be.
First, they come with substantial side effects, including bleeding ulcers, bone death, osteoporosis, and infection. Second, millions have undergone these procedures only to have their hopes of pain free living dashed.
* You might as well be injected with salt water. In 2009, a study headed by Richard Deyo, MD, professor and co-editor of the book Evidence-Based Clinical Practice found that corticosteroid injections (more commonly known as cortisone) were no more effective at relieving lower back pain than “sham” injections that used only salt water. (39) A 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal showed the same. (40)
* If you get relief, it’s not going to last. If injections succeed in actually numbing you, that relief, on average, lasts only eight to twelve weeks. (41) Why such a short time? Because the underlying problem causing the pain is still there, but you can’t feel it. That’s why a doctor recommending only an injection is like a mechanic slapping a piece of duct tape over your check-engine light. Because if the underlying problem is not fixed, sooner or later, something is going to blow.
* Every single one weakens you—100 percent of the time. The same study that found that NSAIDs hurt you also found that corticosteroid injections hinder how you heal on a microscopic level, disrupt vital chemical processes, and ultimately suppress the very function of the tissue they’re used on. These authors conclude by warning that corticosteroids (and NSAIDS) are, “no longer recommended for chronic soft tissue injuries or for acute ligament injuries, except for the shortest possible time, if at all.” (42)
I don’t know about you, but if that is the best I can hope for, then count me out. What boggles my mind as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN—and I hope you also see the insanity behind it—is that despite all the evidence against injections, they’re still given every day. Why? Maybe it’s because insurance companies are still willing to pay for them, which means less out-of-pocket expenses for we consumers. Maybe it’s the want of getting out of pain now, and the hope it can be done in a single, in-and-out procedure. Or maybe it’s that hospitals and clinics are caught in their old habits.
After all, if the injection didn’t work, don’t worry. There’s plenty more where that came from.
A Dime a Dozen
Technology is great, isn’t it? We can talk to a loved one across the country in an instant. All the information the world has ever created is a click away. We have TV, running water, air conditioning, and airplanes. In a lot of ways technology has bettered our lives. It has not, however, bettered your chances of getting rid of nagging back and neck pain.
More and more procedures are being developed that harness the power of technology to propel people out of pain. The pain industry has been climbing this ladder of “technological advances” for years, and can now do things that were once thought impossible. This is fine except for one very important, very crucial thing: for back and neck pain, the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. Before I as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN describe this fundamental flaw, here are some examples of other techie, and mostly disappointing, invasive procedures.
* DENERVATION a.k.a. NERVE KILLING: It’s exactly as it sounds. Doctors use alcohol, scalpels, or lasers, with the assistance of advanced imaging, to kill nerves that detect pain. At best, it’s somewhat helpful in the short term. In the long term, when you cut through a nerve, you injure it, so when (not if) it grows back, it is damaged and sensitized, which means more pain in the long run.
* PAIN PUMPS: A doctor inserts a pump under the skin, runs a catheter from the pump to the low back, and programs the pump to deliver pain-numbing medications. Of course, with any surgery, there’s a risk, but once the pump is inserted, there’s the added risk, albeit small, of the catheter kinking, tearing, leaking, and causing drug overdose or under dose. (43)
* ELECTRIC STIMULATION: This is a techie way to trick the brain not to feel pain. By electrically stimulating non-pain nerves, the brain is prevented from feeling pain from the pain nerves. This procedure has many names: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Peripheral Nerve Field Stimulation (PNFS), Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS), and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). Each one is more invasive than the last and brings with it more risk.
None of these work for everyone, and all of these—as well as injections and medications—are based on a myth that has led to the dismay and suffering of millions. This myth is the fundamental flaw I was talking about earlier.
Let me stop being a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN for a moment and tell you a short story to illustrate the point.
Turn Off the Faucet
On the verge of retirement, a school custodian is training his replacement. One day, right before the lunch bell, they walk into the cafeteria and are shocked to see that the floor is covered in water.
The newbie grabs a mop and bucket and frantically starts mopping. He looks up to see the soon-to-be retiree leisurely walking away.
“What are you doing? I need your help!”
Without a glance in the direction of the trainee, the old custodian turns a corner, disappearing from view. “He must know where some better mops are,” thought the young custodian as he surveyed the water-covered landscape before him. “We’re gonna need them if there’s any chance of cleaning up this mess before lunch.” Moments later, he sees the old custodian reemerge empty-handed.
The young apprentice’s face turns red and a vein pops out in his forehead as he shouts, “What on earth were you doing? I’m over here toiling away while you’re acting like you’re on a Sunday morning stroll!”
With a look of wisdom, the old custodian grabs the remaining mop and with a half-grin says, “You have to turn off the leaking faucet before you can clean up the mess.”
The Leaking Faucet of Pain
Pain is a mess and it’s also the mess. Pain is a result of something going wrong in your body, and all the interventions we’ve talked about so far are mops trying to clean it up. Nothing more, nothing less.
I promise you as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN that the reason you’re in pain is not because of a lack of medication or a lack of procedures. Your neck does not hurt because you are deficient in ibuprofen, nor does your lower back hurt because your injection levels are “below normal” or because you missed your mandatory, annual electric stimulation session.
Let me reiterate: Any pill, injection, or procedure is a mop, trying to clean up the mess of pain, and sometimes they are absolutely necessary. But if the problem that is actually causing the pain—the leaking faucet—isn’t fixed by someone like a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, you will never, ever be pain-free. There’s no getting around that fact. The pain industry, drug giants, and apparently many doctors and health care professionals, either don’t understand or refuse to recognize this. That’s why more people are suffering from pain than ever before: the approach to eliminating pain has been one-sided.
Here’s the good news: I’m going tell you as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN exactly what can be causing your back and neck pain. In a different article, you’ll learn about “The Vicious Cycle.” I know you’ll have a “Eureka!” moment as you read it.
* MYTH: “In pain? Yeah, there’s a procedure for that.” One can do a lot of things to find relief: injections, denervation, pain pumps, and electric stimulation, to name a few. Many of them might even be considered “good options” and provide temporary relief.
* TRUTH: None of them are the right option in and of themselves. That designation is reserved for the treatment that actually addresses whatever problem is causing the pain.
- “Over-treating Chronic Back Pain: Time to back off?” The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Vol. 22 Number 1, Jan 2009, pp 62-68 Richard Deyo, MD, Sohail Mirza, MD, Judith Turner, PhD, Brook Martin, MPH.
- Iverson, T., Solberg, T.K., Romner, B., Wilsgaard, T., Twisk, J., Anke, A., et al. (2011). Effect of caudal epidural steroid or saline injection in chronic lumbar radiculopathy: Multicenter, blinded, randomized controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 343, d5278.
- Cohen, S.P. (2011). Epidural steroid injections for low back pain: Editorial. British Medical Journal, 343, d5301.
- Ligament Injury and Healing: A Review of Current Clinical Diagnostics and Therapeutics, The Open Rehabilitation Jour-nal 2013; No. 6; pp. 1-20, Russ A. Hauser MD, E.E. Dolan, H.J. Phillips, A.C. Newlin, R.E. Moore, B.A. Woldin.
- Benefits and Risks-Drug Pumps. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.medtronic.com/patients/chronic-pain/device/drug-pumps/benefits-risks/index.htm