Lower back and leg pain from a herniated disc; who should you visit first?

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On Fathers Day a number of years ago, I woke up in the morning getting ready to play softball.  Since I do physical work as a chiropractor, it didn't seem too strange to have some lower back soreness. That Sunday my lower back felt strange but I warmed up with a foam roller, stretches, and joined the other 8 guys on the team for the morning game. This was the beginning of my lower back and leg pain experience. It was my turn at bat and I swung hitting a hard and fast ground ball.  I ran hard to first base and then felt something in my lower back pull.  There was some immediate pain in the lower back as I slowed down and was thrown out on first base. Since we only had 9 guys, I finished the game playing catcher although it was a struggle to play the position.  When I got home, the pain gradually worsened.  Our Fathers Day guests noticed I was not moving well. The pain intensified over the day. Monday, I manned up, put on a corset, and proceeded to work on patients throughout the week. That was a rough week and the following week I was on vacation in California.  Sitting on a plane in pain while taking pain medication was a nightmare and then getting into a rental car was dependent on my mobility and the shape of the entrance to the car.   The Hyundai Sonata was the car I could get into. The following day, we drove another 2.5 hours to Lake Tahoe where I sat by the lake the rest of the day, as the drive was torture.   Over the week, I walked hills and pushed myself to rehab my aching back which now was radiating into my right leg. A massage helped a little and the pain had lessened over the week to a tolerable level. My knowledge of treating lower back problems helped me through this, with some help from my chiropractic and medical colleagues who used flexion-distraction and acupuncture to relieve the pain after I returned. After many years of helping others, I asked others to help me, using the same methods that have helped thousands of my patients feel better and get functional again. If you have had back pain from a disc that may have involved leg pain, you know this story since you lived it. As a patient, the person you visit first can determine your experience with a herniated disc. Chiropractors have the best reputation for treating lower back problems, helping people avoid surgeries, unnecessarily costly tests, and other risky medical procedures. My episode fully resolved months later with appropriate treatment, an MRI, and a lot of exercises that  I did on my own to strengthen and rehabilitate my back.  After a second episode a few months later caused by carrying my table from a track meet, I did visit a neurosurgeon who came highly recommended who told me that I should continue what I had done before and that he expected me to have a full recovery without intervention.

What you should expect on your first chiropractic visit

The doctor will do a detailed history of you, your habits, any previous problems you may have had, and other problems that you currently or may have experienced in the past.  A detailed history including past history of lower back and leg problems can help us help you. We will often ask about the feet and knees and hips since back pain is a movement problem. We then perform a thorough evaluation looking at how you move, squat, bend, and we make sure there are no other secondary medical concerns that may be a concern to you.  If a referral is needed, we will send you to the appropriate specialist. Also, if x rays are required, we offer them in our North Brunswick office. Older patients who have had knee problems, a common cause of sciatic pain is a problem in the hip joints which can usually be treated and improved with chiropractic methods. It is not uncommon for a patient to tell us they have bad knees and have had gel shots in them, only to find out it was their hips, feet or both so in the interest of being thorough, we will evaluate everything. We will usually take an x-ray of those patients to confirm this, so having an x-ray on the premises helps us diagnose you more accurately. Digital x-ray makes it possible to show you the results immediately. For the acute lower back problem, flexion-distraction is normally used to reduce pain, and get you moving better more quickly.   Chiropractors often recommend nutraceuticals to relieve pain and may suggest acupuncture which can help reduce the pain as well.   The doctor will work on the muscles and suggest exercises designed to help improve your mobility and reduce your pain. Future care is designed to further improve mobility, reduce pain, and rehabilitate movement patterns that have been affected by the episode. Myofascial release and instrument-assisted soft tissue methods are used to improve flexibility as well as manipulation of the spine and extremities. In 2017, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a paper that recommended a number of things that can help for lower back pain   Chiropractors use a number of these methods and are a one-stop-shop for everything musculoskeletal.   Their holistic training makes them more thorough looking at the person, rather than just the back since movement is about how the body moves, not just the lower back.   The holistic approach and the fact that chiropractors are physicians allows for you to see one person who gets the job done. Once you have achieved maximum improvement, you are discharged from care and a monthly followup is usually recommended as your body will learn improved patterns of movement over the next few months.  Chiropractic periodic visits will help maintain the flexibility you achieved as we monitor your long term progress. In many cases, foot orthotics are recommended since poor foot posture and symmetry are some of the more common causes of chronic lower back and leg pain. This helps stabilize your gait and reduce the likelihood of future lower back episodes. Who should you see first for disc problems, lower back pain, and sciatica?  All roads lead to the chiropractor.   You can schedule your first visit using this link.