Educating and Treating Herniated Disc and Compressive Neuropathy Patients

As a Private Practice professional specializing in neuropathy, you can offer these patients the best chance possible for avoiding permanent nerve damage.

Let’s say you have a patient who presents with[1]
∙           Severe, sharp, electric shock-like, shooting pain
∙           Deep burning or cold in the feet or legs
∙           Numbness, tingling or weakness in the feet and legs that doesn’t go away
∙           Radiating pain down the legs and into the feet
∙           Muscle spasms and deep muscle pain
∙           Depression
∙           Sleeplessness
∙           Fear and anxiety
∙           Inability to perform normal daily activities
∙           Reduced social interaction with friends and family
∙           Loss of bowel and/or bladder control and sexual dysfunction
That’s quite a laundry list of symptoms.  If the patient doesn’t appear to be really physically active or a manual laborer, your first thought probably isn’t going to be a herniated disc.  You might be considering some type of neuropathy but not likely compressive neuropathy caused by a herniated disc.
Doctor and PatientBut maybe you should move both conditions a little farther up the list of possibilities.
To get started, do a thorough history, physical and a complete battery of tests based on their symptoms.  Once you have your diagnosis, you can begin educating and treating your patient.
Explaining What The Discs Do
A well informed patient is a more compliant patient.  If your patient has a desk job and doesn’t engage in any strenuous physical activity, it will be harder for them to understand how they developed a herniated disc and compressive neuropathy.
First, explain to them exactly what the discs do. The bones in the spine are separated and cushioned by small discs that act as shock absorbers. When they function properly, they allow your spine to remain flexible.  But when they’re damaged, which is much more likely as we age, the discs can bulge or rupture and that is what is known as a herniated disc.[2]
Any number of things can cause a herniated disc – plain old fashioned wear and tear, sitting too much or traumatic injury from lifting too much weight and lifting it improperly.
If your patient sits for long periods of time and frequently experienced minor back pain and chronic back tiredness before they came to see you with more advanced symptoms, they are a great candidate for developing a “wear and tear” herniated disc. Something as simple as bending over to pick up a piece of paper, a minor fall or even a sneeze can be all it takes to cause a disc to rupture.
If their job or lifestyle requires them to do frequent heavy lifting and they lift with their back instead of their legs, they’re a herniated disc waiting to happen.  Educate your patient extensively on the proper way to lift to avoid damaging their back in the future.
So…They Understand Herniated Disc But Where Does Compressive Neuropathy Come In?
Here’s a good analogy to use when explaining why herniated discs can causes compressive neuropathy.
Tell them to think of the spine and the nerves that run along the spine like a water hose.  When the hose is running wide open, the flow is smooth and uninterrupted.
Now put a kink in the hose.  The flow of water all but stops.
The herniated disc is the kink in the hose.  It puts pressure on the nerves and stops the proper flow of blood and oxygen and that results in nerve damage.
And nerve damage results in compressive neuropathy, usually in the feet and legs.  If the pressure is not relieved, the damage to the nerves can be permanent and you can end up with life long issues.
Treatment Options
When you’re diagnosed with a herniated disc and compressive neuropathy, the first goals of treatment are:
∙           Pain relief – first and foremost
∙           Address any weakness or numbness in your feet, legs and lower back
∙           Prevention of additional injuries
As a NeuropathyDR® clinician you have access to and training in a specialized protocol that’s ideal for treating the patient with a herniated disc and compressive neuropathy.  A good starting point for treatment is
∙           Bed rest followed by increased, prescribed and controlled activity
∙           Chiropractic manipulation to get the spine back into proper alignment and take pressure     off the herniated disc and nerves
∙           Treatment with the neurostimulation to open up nerve channels and stimulate nerve repair
∙           Exercises to reduce pain and strengthen the muscles in the back
∙           Dietary counseling to address any other underlying medical issues
As a health care professional specializing in neuropathy you can offer these patients the best chance possible for avoiding permanent nerve damage from their herniated disc and the best chance for sparing themselves future pain.
Let us help you reach these patients in your private practice and treat them.
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