Herniated Discs, MRI Imaging and Spinal Decompression (Dr. Tunick’s Triad)
As a chiropractic physician specializing in nonsurgical spinal decompression I am constantly amazed at how many patients I talk to who have been told they have a herniated disc in their lumbar spine on their MRI imaging study, and therefore they need to have invasive back surgery. I hope you caught my use of italics on the word therefore!
Most people don’t know this, but the fact is that if we were to do MRI imaging studies on 1000 people who have no symptoms of low back or leg pain, we would find that well over 80% of those MRI studies would demonstrate a problem with one of the discs. Does this mean they need back surgery? Of course not!
In my chiropractic office I stress the importance of taking a proper history, fully understanding the symptoms that people are having, what positive findings if any they may have on the orthopedic and neurological examination, and most importantly (there’s an italic again!) whether these findings correlate with the MRI imaging studies. The critical point here being that the presence of a damaged disc on the MRI must support the history and clinical presentation, or the damaged disc is more than likely not the reason the patient is having pain!
If the history and mechanism of injury as well as the physical examination findings correlate well with the findings on the MRI imaging study, then and only then can the damaged disc be suspected of contributing to the problem at hand.
The good news is that even if the MRI imaging studies demonstrate a damaged disc that is responsible for the lower back and/or leg pain being experienced by the patient, in an overwhelming majority of cases the problem can be relieved with nonsurgical spinal decompression treatment. This process allows herniated, protruded or bulging discs to recede and eliminate compression of the exiting nerve roots.
Nonsurgical spinal decompression treatment allows the damaged disc to repair and heal over the course of treatment, and the addition of rehabilitation for the supporting muscles of the lower back usually leads to a successful recovery for the patient.
Remember, diagnosing a herniated or protruded disc on MRI imaging studies is only one small part of getting to the true cause of why a person is experiencing lower back and or leg pain. The MRI imaging on its own should never be the sole reason for choosing a course of treatment!