Back Surgery Avoided!

Noninvasive treatment relieves debilitating lower back pain.

In addition to yoga and weight training, Denise Moxon stays fit by engaging in a variety of physical and outdoor activities, not the least of which is the challenging horse-riding discipline called dressage.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Denise Moxon

There’s more to dressage, though, than training a horse to perform a prescribed series of movements. For many riders, there are requirements that extend beyond the performance arena.

As Denise can tell you, there is often a barn that has to be looked after, and keeping that barn and the horse clean can be physically demanding. For years, that part of the discipline never fazed Denise, but then came the day she injured her back shoveling dirt.

At first, Denise hoped that rest would alleviate the pain, mostly in her lower back, so she stopped exercising and riding horses. The pain never disappeared. In fact, it eventually spread to her right thigh.

It was then that Denise began looking for remedies with two priorities in mind: She wanted to avoid surgery and narcotic pain medications. For the next few months, she tried physical therapy, massage, steroid injections and acupuncture.

“I did all of these things just trying to get out of pain and thinking time would take care of it, but the pain just kept getting worse and worse until I couldn’t even walk my dog for a short distance,” Denise recalls.

“Physical therapy didn’t help, massage didn’t help. The acupuncture helped a little because it alleviated the pain, but it wasn’t a cure. I’d be pain-free for a while, but then I’d need acupuncture again.
“After six months, I couldn’t tolerate it any longer. I was beginning to believe that surgery was the only thing that could help me.”

Denise consulted a neurosurgeon, who ordered an MRI. The imaging study showed the cause of her pain was two herniated discs in the lower spine, a problem her physician recommended repairing through surgery.

Though hesitant, Denise agreed to the surgery, but due to the busy surgeon’s schedule, she was told she would have to wait three months.

Denise was resolved to suffering until then, but shortly after scheduling the surgery, she learned about Tyler Albrecht, DC, at St. Augustine Spine Center.

Dr. Albrecht uses a therapy to treat herniated and bulging discs called nonsurgical spinal decompression.

In an effort to learn more about the treatment, Denise made an appointment to consult with Dr. Albrecht.

Allowing the Disc to Heal

“When Denise came to us, she was in really bad shape,” states Dr. Albrecht. “She could only walk or stand for about two minutes before the pain would become severe. She couldn’t do any bending or lifting, and the pain was interrupting her sleep.”

Dr. Albrecht determined that Denise’s herniated discs were causing spinal stenosis, a condition that causes narrowing of the space for the spinal cord. This puts pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves, which in turn causes pain.

Through his examination, Dr. Albrecht verified that Denise was a candidate for nonsurgical spinal decompression. The therapy works to restore herniated or bulging discs to a healthier state, thus relieving the pain.

“It was a long road because I tried so many things, but I’m really pleased with my treatment by Dr. Albrecht. It’s pretty impressive.” – Denise

“What I’ve found is that spinal decompression is usually the best treatment for a herniated disc because it helps to reverse the pressure on the disc, allowing the disc to heal rather than just trying to cover up the pain with injections or medication,” Dr. Albrecht explains.

“Our decompression table does this by gently pulling the two vertebrae on either side of the affected disc, producing a vacuum effect. This allows bulging material and nutrients to be drawn back into the disc over time, healing it naturally. Advanced technology and computerized sensors combine to create a gentle, pain-free treatment that avoids the muscle spasm or guarding reflex that is commonly triggered with rudimentary traction or inversion devices.”

Denise liked how Dr. Albrecht explained the process clearly and comprehensively.

“Dr. Albrecht is very articulate and knowledgeable,’’ she recalls. “He’s informative and factual. The result was that I could make the decision on my own about whether to pursue treatment. He didn’t try to make the decision for me, which I appreciate in a doctor.”

The decision was made to pursue treatment through spinal decompression. Soon after, she began a seven-week regimen with three sessions per week.

She was also treated through a combination of other modalities that are part of St. Augustine Spine Center’s disc rehabilitation program, including manual therapy, chiropractic care, ice, electrical stimulation and laser therapy, which help expedite the healing process.

A Full Recovery

The therapy sessions were pleasant experiences, Denise relates.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Since undergoing spinal decompression, Denise has resumed her riding regimen and added yoga, weight training and golf to her growing list of activities.

“The atmosphere in Dr. Albrecht’s office is lovely and peaceful,” she says. “And the decompression treatments were very comfortable and easy to do. They’re pain-free. You can watch videos while you’re lying on the decompression table, which I did a lot, and it’s restful.”

Halfway through her treatment program, Denise discovered how much spinal decompression was helping. She went to a boat show with her husband and was stunned to realize that walking didn’t hurt anymore.

“We were walking around, and after about 45 minutes, I stopped and said, Art, I have no pain,” Denise remembers. “Before, I would go places even though it hurt to walk because I’m an active person, and I would walk, hurt, sit; walk, hurt, sit.

“At the boat show, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been walking for 45 minutes and hadn’t needed to sit down because I wasn’t hurting.”

Before her first visit with Dr. Albrecht, Denise says her average pain level was six on a scale of one to 10. By the end of her spinal decompression treatment, that pain level had dropped to zero, she says.

Dr. Albrecht uses another feedback measure, the Low Back Pain and Disability Index, to gauge the results of his treatments. The questionnaire focuses on how much back pain interferes with daily activities.

“When we started out, Denise was at 66 percent on how much the pain was disabling her,” Dr. Albrecht informs. “When we finished, she was down to zero percent, meaning she had experienced a full recovery.”

That recovery allowed Denise to resume her active lifestyle. After a regimen of stretches and exercises to strengthen her core, she is once again riding five days a week and continues to improve her dressage skills.

She’s also back doing yoga and weight training and has added golf to her long list of hobbies. What Denise is most happy about, though, is that she succeeded in finding a treatment that took away her severe back pain without surgery or drugs.

Once she felt certain that spinal decompression would give her the long-lasting relief she was seeking, Denise canceled her surgery date.

“It was a long road because I tried so many things,” Denise relates, “but I’m really pleased with my treatment by Dr. Albrecht. It’s pretty impressive.”

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    • St. Augustine Spine Center

      St. Augustine Spine Center's goal is to offer relief to patients whose previous options were to simply suffer with pain, take endless prescription painkillers, or undergo injections or invasive surgeries. Typical patients find spinal decomp... Read More

    • Tyler Albrecht, DC

      Tyler Albrecht, DC, attended Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, FL, where he graduated summa cum laude and was honored as a presidential scholar. He attended Western Michigan University for his undergraduate studies. In 2011 He comp... Read More

    • Erin Bailey, DC

      Erin Bailey, DC, earned her undergraduate degree in exercise physiology from Harding University. She earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida. She is an active member of the Florida Chiropractic Association.... Read More