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 Table of Contents

 Low Back Pain

About 85 percent of the population will experience disabling low back pain at least once during their lives! That’s almost all of us. The problem is so bad that at any one time according to one researcher, 6.8% of the U.S. adult population is suffering from an episode of back pain lasting more that two weeks.(1) That’s a lot of bad backs. The estimated cost of this problem is over $50 billion a year.(2)

The medical approach is at times necessary-even back surgery has a place. But according to some studies, most spinal surgery for acute lower back problems should be rarely performed.(3) Many people who have had back surgery report a recurrence of their symptoms within a year or two of the operation and may return to the operating table. In some cases the surgery makes no difference whatsoever, and in some cases it does give long-term relief.

Chiropractors have helped millions of people with low back problems, often saving them from pain, disability, drugs and surgery. The chiropractor’s purpose is to make your spine and its nerves, discs and muscles healthier, stronger and more stable by correcting your vertebral subluxations. Anyone suffering from a back problem should see a chiropractor to make sure there are no subluxations and to have them removed or corrected if found. This may make the difference between a life of ease, health and comfort or a life of pain, disease and disablity.

"Scientific studies that have been done by medical physicians comparing chiropractic care with medical care and physical therapy non-surgical care of the back and neck show that doctors of chiropractic relieve chronic and severe pain, both immediate and long term, in one half the time it takes medical physicians not trained in chiropractic procedures…controlled empirical studies can and have been conducted. There are now in excess of 60 scientific studies which demonstrate the value of manipulation…manipulation (adjustment) is a most effective and cost effective and cost-effective form of treatment for dysfunctional problems in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines." (4)

 Quotes of the week

Written by Dr. Catherine Maloof and Maureen Maloof

"You can always hope for things, but if you really want them you must see it happening and it will become a reality."

"As you move toward one of your goals, your next goal should already be planned and in motion."

"Sometimes we listen to too may voices, when really we should be quiet and listen to the voice on the inside."

 Back Surgery

This is a summary of the recent (April 8th) article in The New Yorker magazine. "Is surgery the best approach to chronic back pain?"

The New Yorker magazine features an in-depth article on surgery of the low back, the politics associated with the procedure, and the fact that the results have been overwhelmingly unsuccessful.

To put the concept of low back surgery into perspective, the article begins by reminding us of several surgically touted procedures from the mid to late 1900’s that ultimately proved to be disappointing. Once popular surgeries such as radical mastectomies and the tying off of arteries to increase blood flow to the heart were compared to the approximate 150,000 lower lumbar spinal fusions performed in the United States last year.

The article goes into great detail about the failed procedure. It includes the story of a woman in her mid-30’s who developed sciatica and her path down the surgical route. In this case, the individual was given Percocet (a very potent and sometimes addictive pain reliever) and was told to stop working. That was followed by epidural steroid injections, a discectomy, a discograpy, several MRI’s and finally fusion of the lower spine. The bones of the lower back were mechanically braced with metal rods, screw, and bone grafts.

According to the article, the individual was under the impression that the procedures the surgeon recommended were necessary and were validated by research. However, the article clearly states that had this individual explored the medical literature, she would have discovered that every aspect of her case: the interpretation of her MRI scan, the diagnosis made and the rationale for fusing her spine, was controversial among spinal specialists.

This individual was contacted nine months later. She stated she was actually in worse pain than before the operation, the sciatica had returned, she could not go back to work, and the pain prevents her from sitting, driving, or walking for extended periods of time.

The article ends with a quote from a medical doctor talking about others in his field. He states, "there will be a lot of people doing the wrong thing for back pain for a long time, until we finally figure it out. I just hope that we don’t hurt too many people in the process."

If you would like to read the entire article you may read it online at http://www.newyorker.com/printable/?fact/020408fa_FACT

Dr. Maloof Case Studies

Jim a 55 year old male came to my office with excruciating pain in his lower back with pain down his right leg and numbness in his right leg. He had difficulty walking, sitting, and was living on muscle relaxers and pain killers. Even with all these medications the pain was unbearable. After I examined him and took x-rays, I began treating him with specific spinal adjustments, flexion distraction, and techniques to clear the mind-body stress. He then had an MRI which showed a right disc protrusion L4-L5, 15-18mm bulge, with an extruded fragment. His neurosurgeon recommend back surgery but Jim had faith that his body could heal naturally and wanted to give chiropractic a try. After three months of my treatments, he was taken off all prescription medications and taking natural supplements that I recommended to help heal the disc herniation. He is now playing golf, and enjoying life again. He is still under corrective care receiving adjustments to correct his problem, stretching, and taking his supplements. Jim is a true believer that the body can heal itself!!

Sean is a 30 year old male, ex-professional baseball player, who came in with sciatica(pain down his right leg). Before he came to see me he had tried chiropractic, physical therapy, and had back surgery for his disc herniation. He had a L5-S1 laminectomy. He felt better initially after the surgery and then 6 months later the pain was back with a vengeance. He had the same pain that he had before the surgery. A friend of his recommended he come to see me but he was reluctant because he had tried chiropractic. He finally thought he would give it a try since he could no longer work out due to the pain and was tired of taking pain killers. I examined Sean and found misaligned vertebra and gave him specific spinal adjustments to clear out physical, chemical and emotional stress as well as flexion distraction therapy. He takes nutritional supplements and does stretching exercises that I recommended. He now enjoys playing golf and baseball which he never thought would be possible again. He continues to come in for regular chiropractic care and now he is an advocate for chiropractic and recommends Dr. Maloof to his friends.

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s newsletter. Please note that I am not against the medical approach to back pain. Even back surgery has its place. But I have had so many success stories that I feel it’s always best to start off with conservative care first. Be sure to spread the word about back pain and chiropractic. If you know someone who is having a problem or concern be sure to have them set up a time to have a consultation with me.

Dr. Catherine Maloof
(949) 581-6543

You may view Dr. Maloof’s website by clicking www.drmaloof.com

Dr. Maloof Online, ã 2002 

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  1. Deyo, R.A. Description epidemiology of lower back pain and its related medical care in the United States. Spine, 1987, 12(3), pp.264-268.
  2. Low Back Pain, the $50 Billion Problem. Conference sponsored by the Institute for Low Back Care. Minneapolis, MN: Abbott Northwestern Hospital, September 30, 1982  
  3. Acute low back problems in adults. Clinical Practice Guideline No. 14. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, Maryland, Dec. 1994.
  4. Meade, T.W. Dyer, S. et al. Low back pain of mechanical origin: Randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient treatment. British Medical Journal, June 1990, 300 pp. 431-437.