For Patients - Are You a Candidate?
Less than 2% of patients with chronic spinal pain have a surgical solution. Therefore, 98% will have to find a non-surgical way to deal with the problem. Assuming you are not an immediate surgical candidate, ask yourself the following questions:
Have you had neck or back symptoms for more than 6-8 weeks?
Are you having any extremity pain (arms/hands, legs/feet)?
Have you had similar symptoms to this in the past?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions then you are a candidate for the Physicians Neck & Back Clinics (PNBC) program. In addition, PNBC also treats patients with herniated discs and sciatica.
Almost all patients seen at PNBC have tried several other therapies (Reference 5) and have attempted exercise either at home or at another clinic. Even so, these patients almost always exhibit significant de-conditioning and poor flexibility indicating that any previous exercise therapy was either inadequate to affect their strength or did not strengthen the appropriate areas.
PNBC, by utilizing equipment that isolates the most important supporting muscles of the back and neck, is able to strengthen the critical structures. Most exercise equipment at health clubs (Reference 2) or other physical therapy offices does not isolate these important muscles well. Consequently, one can exercise yet still be deconditioned in the most critical areas: the neck and/or low back.
The equipment is computerized so that strength and endurance data can be documented and progress easily monitored. Moreover, because on occasion people experience an increase in symptoms when beginning a meaningful exercise program, supervision by knowledgeable professionals is extremely important. In sum, it takes proper equipment, knowledgeable supervision and accurate data collection to maximize the chances of a successful outcome.
MRI's, X-rays, and CT scans
Patients often ask if certain MRI, CT, or x-ray findings indicate whether or not they are candidates for intensive exercise. We review these studies in detail but only rarely do we discover imaging findings that contraindicate exercise. In fact, imaging tests often do not reveal the cause of symptoms. Instead, they reveal "anatomical changes" only and do not "light up" the source of pain. Many studies show an almost equal incidence of abnormal imaging findings in people with and without symptoms. For example, so many people without back pain are noted to have a "bulging disk" that such a finding is now considered to be a normal variation.
Pinched Nerve? Sciatica?
In addition, patients often question whether or not arm or leg symptoms are a reason to avoid exercise since they may suggest the presence of a "pinched nerve". In fact, most arm and leg symptoms associated with spine pain cannot be related to nerve irritation. It is possible to sustain an injury to the small ligaments of the lumbar or cervical spine and experience symptoms radiating to the foot or hand respectively. These symptoms generally improve as the back and neck pain improve. But even if you do have a "pinched nerve" (see Disc Syndromes and Sciatica) exercise is still often effective. During your initial exam the M.D. can usually determine whether or not the extremity problems are referred or radicular (due to nerve irritation).
If you are unsure whether PNBC is appropriate for you, feel free to contact us to speak directly with our staff.