Are you at risk as a potential disc replacement patient?
If you are experiencing persistent, chronic pain in your neck, you could be exhibiting symptoms of a ruptured cervical disc (see a doctor for a diagnosis). How did it happen? Was it the result of a direct injury like a fall or a car accident? Was it from an indirect injury caused by long-term repetitive movement or athletics? It’s hard to say, however I do know that most patients simply have a genetic predisposition for degenerative disk disease.
Genetics play a big role whether or not we have healthy discs at 60 or degenerative disc disease at age 25. The same goes with early onset of arthritis and other diseases. What is clear is that the earlier you detect these problems and get a full assessment, the more options you will have later.
Maybe you think that just because I’m a spine surgeon I recommend surgery for all my patients. Actually, surgery is the last thing on my mind. I have operated on patients as young as 14 and as old as 75. What I’ve learned is that the best medicine is by helping my patients achieve and maintain a greater level of healthfulness and preservation of motion – without surgery. Which is why I developed the 4D Health concept.
Years of practice have taught me that I can create the best patient outcomes by focusing on four essential healthy actions: exercise, nutrition, pain management, and screening.
• Exercise: You can reduce neck pain with careful and regular exercise. For instance, daily neck stretches and exercises of the upper shoulder muscle groups. I recommend for my patients to get their noses out of their iPhones and laptops – these devices encourage terrible posture habits that exacerbate disc pain and cause more problems. Do a lot of computing? Spend more time on your desktop, lower your keyboards so that your wrists are level with your elbows, and keep your monitors at or slightly below eye level. Get a good chair that helps you maintain good posture. In fact, be conscious of your posture and position whenever you work.
• Nutrition: We’ve come to accept the idea that nutrition plays a significant role in the health of your body. Most patients are surprised to learn that nutrition can also ease neck pain. Inflammation occurs when there’s an injury, but it can also be triggered by certain foods. I work with nutrition specialists – Ph.D. professionals – who have a clear understanding of the systemic effects that nutrition can have on the body. My patients receive a complete nutrition profile. Menu plans are designed with low inflammatory and high-protein content foods. This will cut back on inflammation but will also strengthen the body and supply it with the resources it needs to heal.
• Pain Management: When it is necessary, we will prescribe pain management. I work with skilled pain management physicians to manage each patient’s case. Some will need diagnostic and therapeutic injections: to reduce pain and facilitate mobility while the healing process is occurring. We may also prescribe short-term anti-inflammatory medication to promote healing.
• Screening: As we age, hormone levels drop continually which leads to a drop in all metabolic processes. The result: you can’t build muscle, you can’t burn fat, and you fatigue faster and stay tired longer. A significant drop in hormones can also slow the healing process and prolong pain and discomfort. Thorough testing and screening, we arm my patients with the power of knowing the condition of their body and how best to optimize muscular recovery, decrease inflammation, and reduce pain.
Many patients who go through the 4D Health process will heal without surgery. Yet, if after all of this and surgery is still needed, then your body will be in the best condition possible for a healthy recovery after surgery. Then all we have to do is focus on preserving motion and keeping you on the path toward an active and functional lifestyle.