Back Pain Tabled

Spinal decompression is an excellent alternative to surgery.

For 30 years, Tom Soriero, 67, worked in construction before finally retiring a few years ago. During his career, Tom was part of a crew that built Publix® Supermarket stores from Tallahassee to Miami. He also had a hand in building the Daytona® International Speedway and other iconic structures in the Sunshine State. But the work wasn’t without consequences for Tom.

“We built every Publix in the Daytona Beach area as well,” he confirms. “But it was the type of work that can result in an injury to your back. With the work I did, I probably lifted thousands and thousands of pounds, and I crushed three spinal discs from lifting. I had a lot of arthritis in those discs as well.

“There’s no cartilage left between the bones there, but the doctors wouldn’t operate because the insurance company wouldn’t approve it. They said I was inoperable. I actually wanted surgery, but they told me my back was too messed up. They said if they operated, it would screw me up even more, so they wouldn’t touch me.”

There may have been an initiating injury Tom can’t remember, but for the most part, the damage to Tom’s back developed slowly over his many years of working in construction. Over time, the damage resulted in severe pain that eventually became excruciating and ultimately debilitating.

“I first noticed the pain about six years ago, but back then, the discomfort came and went,” Tom describes. “But it got continuously worse over time, mostly because I shrank with age and my bones got softer.

“My doctor sent me to pain management, where they shot a solution into my back to try to kill the problem nerves. I received about thirty shots, but they didn’t work. Then all of a sudden, my sciatic nerve became pinched, and once that happened, I was pretty much immobilized.”

At that point, Tom returned to the pain management physician, who contemplated other treatment options for Tom’s debilitating pain. Among the options the doctor considered were transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and an implanted morphine pump. Tom was less than enthused by those recommendations. Then he heard about another nonsurgical approach to treating severe back pain.

“I got a call from a friend at Preferred Injury Physicians who asked me if I’ve ever tried the spinal decompression table,” Tom states. “I told him I had never heard of that, and he said, You need to try it.

“I’ve known this friend for years. When he was young, I watched him play ball. Now, he’s grown into a great guy, and he’s a very intelligent man, so I said, Okay, I’ll try the spinal decompression table.

“Dr. Utter put me on the spinal decompression table, and within fifteen sessions on that table, I was pretty much pain free.” – Tom

Preferred Injury Physicians is a full-service chiropractic practice with nine locations in Florida, including Brandon, Tampa and Wesley Chapel. The practice is devoted to the nonsurgical treatment of neck and back disorders that can result in severe pain and disability. Travis Utter, DC, owner/operator of Preferred Injury Physicians, evaluated Tom’s back condition.

“Tom came to us with severe low back pain and decreased mobility that developed from years of working in a very physical occupation,” Dr. Utter reports. “An MRI showed he had three herniated discs in his low back that were placing pressure on the nearby spinal nerves, causing the pain and disability. The spinal joints in the area were also severely arthritic.

“Pain management techniques were unsuccessful in alleviating Tom’s back pain. He was evaluated for surgery and determined to not be a candidate for surgery. But he was a good candidate for our nonsurgical treatment protocol that includes spinal decompression. Spinal decompression is an excellent alternative to surgery for severe back and neck pain.”

Protocol Cornerstone

Preferred Injury Physicians’ treatment protocol for severe back and neck pain is a package of therapies that includes nonsurgical spinal decompression, spinal manipulations and physical therapy. Spinal decompression, however, is the cornerstone of the protocol.

“Spinal decompression is an excellent nonsurgical, conservative option for dealing with various spinal conditions, the biggest being disc bulges, disc herniations, facet syndrome and even spinal stenosis,” Dr. Utter notes.

Before treatment with spinal decompression, doctors first determine the major factors contributing to the patient’s pain and other symptoms. They do this by correlating the findings from a physical examination with the results of imaging tests such as an x-ray or MRI.

Accu-Spina photo courtesy of Preferred Injury Physicians.

Accu-SPINA™ decompression table

“When we examine all of this information, we are able to hone in on the specific level of the spine where the problem is occurring,” Dr. Utter informs. “At Preferred Injury Physicians, we use a very sophisticated spinal decompression table that allows us to isolate a specific level of the spine for treatment.

“Sometimes, there is more than one spinal level contributing to the pain, as in Tom’s case. Our table also allows us to start working on one level, achieve some benefit, then move on to treat the next level.”

The spinal decompression treatment itself is rather simple, Dr. Utter observes, especially in cases of disc herniation. With a herniation, pain comes from compression of the spinal nerves by collapsed vertebrae or by the material from the center of the disc seeping out through the break, or herniation, in the disc.

“The bones of the spine, or vertebrae, along with the bulged or herniated disc can compress the nerves that exit the spine,” Dr. Utter explains. “Spinal decompression pulls those bones apart, but extremely gently. As it starts to separate the bones, it creates negative pressure inside the center of the disc. This negative pressure sucks in the disc material that has herniated onto the nerves.

“By pulling back that disc material, the amount of water and nutrients needed to start effectively controlling, containing and repairing the herniation is increased. Spinal decompression is typically administered in a series of treatments that effectively build upon each other. Over time, there is continued improvement until the patient is stable and can be discharged from care.”

“I went to the Preferred Injury Physicians office and met with the chiropractor,” Tom recalls. “Dr. Utter put me on the spinal decompression table, and within fifteen sessions on that table, I was pretty much pain free.”

Painful Occupations

When Ernesto Galindo, 33, was a child, his father moved his family from Mexico to the United States in search of work. The family initially relocated to the West Coast, but as a migrant farmworker, Ernesto’s father took them across the country as he shadowed the crop harvests.

“We lived in California when I was younger, but my dad would follow the seasonal work,” Ernesto remembers. “We traveled to different states, and the last state we came to was Florida. We ended up staying here, and I’ve lived in Florida since 2001.”

For several years, Ernesto followed in his father’s footsteps and worked on farms in the Sunshine State. His work required a lot of bending to pick the various crops, including tomatoes and strawberries. All those years of bending and picking had a negative impact on Ernesto’s back, and he began to experience back pain.

“About six years ago, while I was farming, I started feeling symptoms of back pain,” Ernesto confirms. “At first, I essentially ignored it. I’d rest a little bit, then go right back to work.”

After three years of fighting those nagging backaches, Ernesto changed jobs and became an air conditioning technician. That job requires a lot of bending as well and plenty of twisting and turning, often in tight spaces. Like picking crops, the air conditioning work has also had a negative effect on Ernesto’s back.

“Three years ago, after I started as an A/C technician, I began having terrible episodes of back pain two or three times a year,” Ernesto reports. “The most recent episode was in October. It was so painful that I couldn’t even walk. I couldn’t bend. I couldn’t do anything because I was in so much pain.

“It was a stabbing pain. It felt like my back was going to break. I could feel the pain when I bent a little bit. It would throw me to the ground, and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t walk straight; I walked sideways. The pain was so severe, I couldn’t work for three months.”

The pain in Ernesto’s back interfered with his family life as well.

“I like to play basketball with my kids when I get home from work,” he relates. “There’s a park in our community, and every day, we would go there and play. But I couldn’t do that while I was in pain. I couldn’t go anywhere, really. My family always went places without me, then I would get mad really easily. I was always grumpy because of the pain.”

Ernesto’s doctor performed an examination and ordered an MRI to determine the cause of his intense pain. It was discovered that Ernesto had two herniated discs and resulting pinched nerves.

Due to the severity of Ernesto’s pain, the doctor recommended spine surgery and even went so far as to schedule a procedure. But Ernesto wasn’t convinced that was the direction he wanted to go.

“I did a lot of research on spine surgery and talked to a lot of people who have back problems,” he states. “They were telling me not to have surgery, so I backed out of that surgery at the very last minute.

“After just two weeks of treatment every day, I went to Dr. Utter and asked him if I could go back to work because I felt that much better.” – Ernesto

“Then I did some additional research and saw that Preferred Injury Physicians had very good reviews. So, I went to the office. As soon as I walked in, everybody there saw that I was in pain and quickly attended to me.”

Dr. Utter remembers Ernesto’s first visit.

“Ernesto came to us in December 2018,” the doctor recalls. “He told me he had not been able to work for three months because of his back pain. There was not any accident, injury or single factor that initiated his pain. Rather, it was something that simply progressed over time, likely exacerbated by his occupation.

“Ernesto had gone for a surgical consultation, and it was looking like he might end up needing surgery. However, he did not have health insurance at the time, so that would have been an exorbitant cost for him. He was very interested in our nonsurgical treatment protocol for back pain and decided to try that.”

“Best Thing I’ve Done”

“The spinal decompression treatment took the pressure off of my spine,” Ernesto shares. “I could feel the machine pull me, but it wasn’t painful at

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Relieved of his back pain, Ernesto says he is “back to normal again.”

all. When I first went to Preferred Injury Physicians, they put electrical stimulation on my back, then a heating pad to loosen my muscles before I went for the decompression. It felt really nice.”

Ernesto completed Preferred Injury Physicians’ entire treatment protocol for his back pain, but he was most impressed by the effectiveness of the spinal decompression. He was especially pleased because decompression is nonsurgical, and he wanted to avoid a surgical procedure.

“As soon as I finished my first spinal decompression treatment, I could walk better,” Ernesto raves. “I was a little sore, but after three or four treatments, I started feeling even better. I could stretch more, and my back felt good.

“I was amazed by how quickly I was able to go back to work. After just two weeks of treatment every day, I went to Dr. Utter and asked him if I could go back to work because I felt that much better.

“I’m also back to playing basketball with my kids. Every day, we go out and play. And I’m a lot less grumpy. I’m back to normal again.”

Ernesto says that before he underwent spinal decompression therapy, his back pain averaged a seven on a scale of one to ten. After two weeks of treatment, his pain level was down to two.

“Right now, I have zero pain,” he reports. “But if I overdo it, like if I work really late or work a lot, I might feel a little bit of pain coming on. But then I rest, and the pain goes back to zero again.”

Ernesto has adjusted his work duties to further ease the stress on his spine. He’s grateful to his employers for their cooperation, but he credits Dr. Utter and his treatment at Preferred Injury Physicians for his pain relief.

“I do a lot of service work now, more troubleshooting,” Ernesto describes. “That’s less heavy work and lifting than the installations I used to do. My company was good to move me to service. It’s a lot easier on my back.

“Going to Preferred Injury Physicians was the best thing I’ve done. They treated me very, very well, and I feel great now. I recommend Preferred Injury Physicians to anybody who has back pain.”

“I Have a Life Again”

Like Ernesto, Tom achieved tremendously successful results with Preferred Injury Physicians’ treatment protocol. By following the protocol, Tom’s severe back pain was relieved, and his mobility was restored. He credits spinal decompression specifically for his excellent results.

“I’m walking, and everything is good now,” Tom enthuses. “I can’t lift anymore, but I’m up and around and mobile, and I have a life again. And it’s all because of that spinal decompression table, without a doubt.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that spinal decompression is responsible for the difference in my back condition because I know where I was when I started the treatment, and I know where I ended up after treatment.”

Being mobile again has allowed Tom to participate once more in his favorite pastimes, activities he had to give up when his back condition became so painful and disabling. 

“I like to boat and fish when I can get around,” Tom offers. “The spinal decompression has certainly helped me get around and do those things again.”

Tom is extremely pleased with the results of his treatment at Preferred Injury Physicians, but he worries about his condition returning. He’s concerned that he’ll have additional spine problems as he gets older.

“I’ll probably need to go back to Preferred Injury Physicians for a touch-up treatment eventually,” Tom relates. “I haven’t needed it yet, but I can see it happening in the future. After all, I’m sixty-seven years old, and my body is deteriorating as we speak. The arthritis is getting progressively worse all the time.

“All I can do is try to combat that deterioration and get through the rest of my life without too much pain. The spinal decompression can help me do that.”

The treatment Tom received from Dr. Utter at Preferred Injury Physicians made a significant impact on his life, allowing him to be pain free and active. He’s already spreading the word about his excellent experience with spinal decompression at the local chiropractic practice.

“I’ve been recommending Preferred Injury Physicians and their spinal decompression table all along,” Tom says. “I’ve already told some friends and other people I know who have back problems about it. And I’ll tell others about it as well, without a doubt.”

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