Total Back Newsletter

Treatment For A Bulging Disc

Dr. Jolley Bulging Disc, Treatment 1


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Treatment For A Bulging Disc

In this post, you’ll learn about the definition, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of a bulging disc. But to thoroughly understand a bulging disc, it is important to learn some basic anatomy and physiology of the spine – specifically the disc which is the area affected by the condition.

Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae. Between each vertebra are structures called intervertebral discs or spinal discs.  A spinal disc has two main parts. A fibrous exterior (annulus fibrosis) made of a several layers and a soft gel-like interior (nucleus pulposus). Each disc functions to cushion the spine, absorb shock, and maintain spacing between the vertebrae.

Now that you have a basic understanding of anatomy and physiology, let’s now talk about a bulging disc in more detail.

What Is A Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc occurs when the inner layers of the annulus fibrosis begin to deteriorate allowing the soft gel-like material inside the spinal disc to bulge out to the outer layers of the annulus fibrosis.  This is not like a herniated disc where the soft gel-like material completely leaks out of the outer material.  Imagine stepping on a balloon without popping it – that is how a bulging disc looks

What Are The Causes Of A Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc can result from several different causes. Any of the following scenarios may cause a bulging disc:

  • Spine trauma or blow

The most common situations are car accidents and sports-related injuries.

  • Repetitive Trauma
  • Most bulging discs are a result of repetitive movements done improperly over a period of time rather than one specific injury this micro trauma causes early degeneration changes in the spine and specifically the disc.
  • Aging
  • As you age your spine starts to degenerate causing the spinal disc, which functions as a cushion, to degenerate or dry out making it more susceptible to injury.


What Are The Symptoms Of A Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc causes no symptoms unless it leads to irritation or compression to nearby or adjacent areas which can result to localized pain. The location of pain caused by a bulging disc varies depending on the affected region of the spine.

  • Pain in the neck, upper back, shoulders, and/or arms.
  • Pain in the middle back, ribs or torso
  • Pain in the lower back, groin, hips, buttocks and/or legs

How Is It Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of a bulging disc involves a combination of the following:

  • History
  • Careful physical examination
  • MRI


What Is The Treatment For Bulging Disc?

Most bulging discs do not present with symptoms unless there is active inflammation in the disc. A program of progressive resistance exercises utilizing the MedX Medical Spinal Testing and Rehabilitation equipment is usually sufficient to treat a bulging disc.  Another effective treatment is non-surgical spinal decompression. At the Center for Total Back Care, we offer this procedure using the finest technology called VAX-D. VAX-D, which stands for Vertebral Axial Decompression, is a nonsurgical treatment for bulging, herniated or degenerative discs. Videos of both the MedX and VAX-D treatments can be found below.

At the Center for Total Back Care, we will assist you in returning to your normal activities of daily living in the fastest time possible. You can get back to living a pain-free life once again by scheduling a free consultation at the Center for Total Back Care today. Don’t suffer another day, call us at 480-633-8293 right now!



Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Chest Stretch

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

You may be asking, “What does a chest stretch have to do with the neck and shoulders?”  The chest muscles are often neglected when it comes to stretching to maintain proper head and shoulder posture.  As people work with their hands in front of them, such as, when working on a computer, sewing, reading, etc., they often leave their shoulders in a forward rotated position due to the tension that builds up in the chest muscles.  The result is a slouching posture that leaves the head in a forward position and puts extra stress and strain on the neck and upper back.  By stretching the chest muscles throughout the day you counteract this tension and helps you position your shoulders in a neutral position supporting a proper posture.  When performing this stretch you should feel the stretch across the chest and front of the shoulders.   It is important that when performing stretches that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.

Chest Stretch

chest stretch– First find a doorway or corner that you can place your forearms and hands in a vertical position

– Make sure that your elbows are not higher than shoulder height when forearms and hands are placed on doorway or wall.

– From this position gently lean into the doorway or corner until you feel a good stretch across the chest and shoulders, remember no pain

– Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times




When should you perform the chest stretch?

If you have a slouching posture or anytime you work for a long period of time with your hands in front of you.  If you work in front of a computer this stretch should be performed about every hour.

When should I avoid performing the chest stretch?

If you experience pain in the shoulder or chest when performing the stretch.  Consult with a doctor if you experience any of these issues when performing the stretch.



Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Trapezius Stretch

John Naumann Uncategorized Leave a comment  

Here are the top neck and shoulder stretches everyone should be doing.  Neck pain can have many different causes and almost all of them included muscle tightness and muscle guarding.  Breaking up the tension in you neck and shoulders is one of the key elements to recovery.  It is important that when performing stretches in the neck that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.  This week we start our series off with the Trapezius Stretch or commonly called the Trap Stretch.

upper trap stretchTrapezius Stretch

– Place the back of one hand on your lower back making sure you are keeping that sides shoulder down

– Place the other hand gently across the top of your head, while the head is looking straight forward

– Apply gentle pressure to your head pulling your head towards the hand on head side until you feel a good stretch, no pain. (Do not push down)

– Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and perform for both sides 3 times


When should I perform Trapezius Stretches?

Whenever you have limited range of motion in neck or have tightness in shoulders.  Perform at least 2-3 times daily.  If you are working at a computer workstation, perform 1 time per hour.

When should I avoid performing Trapezius Stretches?

If you experience an increase in localized pain during and prolongs after stretch, numbness, dizziness, or radiating pain during stretch, discontinue stretch and consult a doctor.


How your footwear can affect back pain

John Naumann Back Pain Leave a comment  

How your footwear can affect back pain

flip flop

Next time you experience back pain, consider your footwear.  Why? Well think of your footwear like tires on a car, when the tread wears on the tires it can cause an imbalance and the car will begin to perform poorly.  This is why auto mechanics recommend regular rotations, alignments, and service.  Our bodies are not much different when it comes to this.  Our feet are our foundation when walking and standing, how they perform can have a direct influence on how the rest of our body feels.  Here are some tips when it comes to footwear to help avoid back pain.

  1. If you have foot and ankle problems get it checked out or it can lead to back problems – Pain or dysfunction in your feet affect your gait and standing posture which directly affects your back.
  2. Replace the “tires” – Like the tires on the car your shoes should be replace between every 3-6 months, depending on how much you wear them.  Do not think that because the shoe shows no outward wear that they aren’t worn.  The pressure from your feet inside the shoe will apply wear to the inside support, which is hard to see.  If you wear you shoes often you may need to change them sooner due to wear on the soles.
  3. Make sure your shoes are a right fit – Even if you have worn a size 10 shoe for 20 years, your size may have changed.  As we age the arches in our feet begin to change and even though we are no longer growing, our feet can flatten increasing the length of our feet.  Make sure the shoes you are wearing have about 1/2″ space between the tip of the shoe and you big toe.
  4. Wear orthotics – Fitted orthotics can significantly improve joint alignment.  Most over the counter orthotics might provide temporary foot relief, many aren’t design to help improve posture which directly influences back pain.
  5. Go to a running shoe store to get fit for shoes – Even if you don’t run, the running shoe store has an amazing number of options for all kinds of feet.  The employees at running shoe stores are often trained to analyze foot strike patterns to help you find the shoe that fits your individual need.  Runners are the ultimate footwear users, learn from their experience.
  6. Form versus fashion – Telling a woman not to wear high heels is like telling them to jump off a tall building, you just don’t do it.  But there are considerations, high heels have a lot of potential negative effects on our feet and back.  Limit how long you wear high heels.  Carry a pair of flats with you to change out in when you are going to be on your feet for much of the day, and put the high heels on when it is “necessary”.
  7. Sandals – Limit sandal and flip-flop wear.  They provide little to no support for the foot and can lead to foot problems, resulting in back pain.  Flip flop and sandals should only be worn on a day that involves limited walking or standing.

While your back pain may have many different causes, having a good foundation and making sure you have proper footwear is a good place to start. Footwear and back pain often come together.

Can rest cause back pain?

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Can rest cause back pain?

rest cause back painHow does rest cause back pain?

For years the common treatment was rest and lack of activity to help recover from back pain.  But that rest might be doing more harm than good.  So how does rest cause back pain?

When people rest and aren’t moving or using there back, there muscles in the back get weaker and weaker.  Consider a recent finding with astronauts.  About 30% of the astronauts that go into space experience moderate to severe back pain, even though they are in excellent physical condition. The findings have shown that while in space the astronauts body is weightless so there is very little pressure on the back and very little need for muscles that support the lumbar spine to be engaged.  The findings show weaker lumbar spine muscles can result in back pain, even when there is no pressure on the spine.

Reducing the risk of back pain whether here on earth or in space, requires keeping the muscles strong in you back.  The Center for Total Back Care, has always used the Med-X system, as part of our rehabilitation program because it does the best job in isolating and strengthening the muscles in the lumbar spine.  Maybe NASA should look into creating a similar program to help treat their astronauts?


The Placebo effect on Back Pain

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on The Placebo effect on Back Pain

How does the placebo effect back pain?

People suffering from chronic back pain will often turn to medication to help ease the pain.  A recent study, researchers recruited 97 adult patients with low back pain lasting at least 3 months. Patients were randomly assigned to 3 weeks of treatment on their usual pain medications alone, or on their usual medications plus placebo.  Importantly, patients knew they were taking a placebo. The researchers explained to patients about the “potentially powerful” placebo effect, and how the body may automatically respond to placebo treatments.  Measures of back pain and disability were compared between groups. 83 patients completed the study. Researchers found greater reductions in pain for patients assigned to placebo. On a 0-to-10 scale, patients in the placebo group had a 1.5-point improvement in pain score, compared to no significant change for patients taking usual medications only. Overall, open placebo treatment reduced initial pain and disability scores by approximately 30%. Patients in the usual-treatment group had similar improvements after they started taking placebo pills.  Researchers suggest that open-label placebo can be a safe and effective adjunct to treatment for chronic low back pain. Patients have better improvement when placebo is added to pain medications.

How does this happen?  Well one theory would suggest that our minds have a greater impact on controlling pain impulses than just medications.  Being aware of the environment and mental factors that may contribute to the triggering of chronic back pain may help some people manage it better, along with addressing the functional deficiencies that may be causing the back pain.


Dr. Jolley Uncategorized 1


Great Exercise Tips!

Consistent exercise requires focus, and focus requires a plan. Outline your workouts by day, week and month so when you hit the gym, you know what to do.

In the real world, you’re not competing on “The Biggest Loser.” Work out for five hours a day and you’ll end up burned out, injured or both. Try 45 minutes, 3-4 times a week.

We’re talking about the inevitable temptation to skip a workout. When you’re having a “bad day,” stay strong and get to the gym. Skip out and you’ll regret it; make it happen and you’ll feel great afterward.

Many people are afraid to stop working out once they start, but you need time to refresh yourself and allow your body to do the same. Schedule a consistent break (3-4 days or an entire week) every few months and then start right up again.

Your body and mind get bored after a certain amount of time doing the same thing. Mix things up every so often, whether it’s trying a few new exercises, changing the time of day you work out, or even changing up the setting (e.g., running outside versus on the treadmill).

When it comes to exercise, some people can fly solo, and that’s great; but for others, they need a friend or spouse to help keep them on track. If you can’t do it alone, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Unless your goal is to look like a body-builder, you can put the heavy weights down. Body-weight, resistance bands and balls, and other basic equipment can get the job done just fine.

This is the most difficult tip to stay true to, but it’s also the most important. Every day isn’t sunshine and roses; that’s true in life and in your exercise routine. Some days or weeks, you won’t feel as if you’re making any progress. That’s the time to stay positive, fight through it and remember why you decided to start exercising in the first place.

Source: To Your Health



Dr. Jolley Back Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

walking-for-health-logo_cmyk_highres1-250x250As we age, many of us find that our walking speed gets slower. Most of us assume that it’s inevitable. It’s not. Researchers compared natural walking speed and life expectancy and came to some startling conclusion.

They combined the results of nine different studies and followed 34,000 participants for up to 21 years. Each participant was age 65 or older, with an average age of 73 years. Their natural walking speed, from a standing start, was measured and timed for short distances.

The result of the studies: Those who naturally have an above average walking speed will generally also have a longer-than-average life expectancy. Researchers were able to correlate current age with walking speed and predict the likely survival ages. For those participants age 75 and older, the information was especially on target.

Additionally, researchers realized that the information was valuable enough to be used as a standard assessment, such as blood pressure, heart rate, weight and general mobility tests.

That’s not to say you should intentionally start walking faster. Your body picks it’s own natural speed. However, it wouldn’t hurt to have your doctor do a test to see how fast you normally walk. It can be done easily in a hallway of the doctor’s office by a nurse or practitioner.

If you walk slower than average, your doctor could look for the reasons why, as walking speed is an indication of the overall state of your health. If a problem is identified and then remedied, your normal walking speed may increase – which will put you in a category of those who have a longer life expectancy and better body functioning.

Wear your sneakers to the doctor’s office!

Source: SENIOR NEWS LINE –By: Matilda Charles

Myths about back pain

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Myths about back pain

myths about back pain

5 Myths about back pain

Any medical condition can have myths created around the causes.  We often have discussions with patients around the causes of back pain and we often hear myths about back pain.  Here are some of the most common myths around back pain.

  1. Heavy school back packs cause back pain – A recent study showed no direct correlation to heavy back packs and back pain.  Static postures have more correlation to a students back pain than back packs
  2. Moving will cause more back pain – When a person has back pain it can be very uncomfortable to move in any way, but the reality is that movement helps relax muscles in spasm. Smooth, mild movements, while uncomfortable at first, will help decrease back pain and helps speed up the healing process.
  3. Avoid weightlifting with back pain – This goes in conjunction with moving.  If you approach weightlifting with lighter loads and continue to build up the weight you will strengthen your body which will be more capable of handling stresses that can cause back pain
  4. MRI’s and X-rays will diagnose back pain –  As we age our back changes, discs narrow and bone spurring can occur.  This doesn’t mean that you are going to have back pain.  Most people have these conditions and rarely have back pain.
  5. Pain means you have damaged tissue – Pain can be related to many things that don’t necessarily mean you have damaged tissue.  Pain intensity is unique to each individual and the body responds differently for everyone.  People that have been on pain management pills can struggle with false pain when they aren’t taking them.  Sometimes just interrupting the pain impulse can alleviate back pain immediately.

How we lift in our youth has links to back pain in our mid-life

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on How we lift in our youth has links to back pain in our mid-life

back pain in mid-lifeA recent study out of Finland has shown links between how we lift and how we lift in our youth has links to back pain in our mid-life.  When we are younger we don’t care as much about how we lift or what we lift because we rarely experience significant back pain.

The study showed men, that reported heavy lifting in their youth, had double the chance of lower back pain.  Women that reported moderate lifting had double the chance to experience lower back pain.

People that start off learning and practicing how to lift correctly and maintain a good physical conditioning program can decrease this risk.  The important thing is that the habits we get in our youths can have a lasting effect later in life.

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