Back in Action

Pain-free spinal decompression therapy relieves lower back, neck pain.

 Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

In his late 50s, Ted joined the Peace Corps and became the country director for Lesotho and Uganda

Most people join the Peace Corps when they’re young, when their uncertainty regarding which path to follow in life meshes with their desire to see the world and make an impact on a small, needy community someplace far, far away.

Not Ted Mooney.

Ted, now 67, joined the Peace Corps when he was in his late 50s, long after he’d built and sold a scientific instrument sales company, retired for the first time and rejoined the workforce as a consultant for a group of small tech companies.

“I tend to re-invent myself every six to eight years,” says Ted, a mechanical engineer who also holds a master’s degree in Business Administration. “My job with the Peace Corps was country director of Lesotho, a small country inside South Africa.

“I then became the country director for Uganda. In both places, I was primarily responsible for the health and safety of the volunteers and for working with the local ministries to find the productive things that would help us make a difference in the community.”

Ted moved on from the Peace Corps in 2011 and retired for good last October. At the time of his retirement, he was still quite active, swimming, kayaking and bird-watching on a regular basis. That is until back problems crept up on him.

“I’ve had back problems throughout the course of my life, ever since I was in my teens, but I never paid much attention to them,” Ted says. “Then one morning a few months back, shortly after I’d retired, I woke up and could barely get out of bed.

“I thought at first that it would be just as it always had been before, that it would eventually clear up, but this time, it just kept getting worse. After a couple of weeks, I could barely even get out of the house.

I tried taking a walk with my wife one day, and I couldn’t even get one-hundred meters down the road. I couldn’t go outside and do any of the bird-watching I love to do because it hurt just to bring the binoculars up to my eyes.

“This program really works. . . . The bottom line is, I feel great again, and I thank Dr. Albrecht for that.” – Ted

“It was bizarre how much pain I was in, and after a third week of that, I thought my life, as I understood it, was going away because of this back pain. That’s when I decided I needed to get it taken care of.”

Ted’s fear of spending his second retirement as a shut-in prompted an internet search for a physician to treat his agonizing back pain. The search led him to Tyler Albrecht, DC, at
St. Augustine Spine Center.

The goal of the staff at St. Augustine Spine Center is to help patients suffering from severe and chronic back pain, neck pain and peripheral neuropathy return to a pain-free, active lifestyle using the most advanced nonsurgical, drug-free procedures available.

Their work always begins with a thorough examination of the patient, and in the case of Ted, Dr. Albrecht’s initial examination revealed that the constant stabbing pain he felt in his back was radiating into his right hip and leg.

“In addition to Ted’s back pain, he was also having some tingling and itching along his right thigh, and the pain would get worse when he would do any walking or standing,”
Dr. Albrecht reports. “It was making him limp and was interfering with his activities around the house.

“He could no longer go to the gym, which he had been doing three or four times a week. He was even having trouble sleeping. He had tried ice and heat treatments and taken some anti-inflammatories and even used a TENS device, but he found no relief.

Based on his findings, Dr. Albrecht ordered an MRI of Ted’s back. The MRI showed Ted was suffering from degenerative disc disease and that the primary cause of his pain was four bulging lumbar discs that resulted in irritation of the nerves in that area.

The severity of his problem came as a bit of a shock to Ted, who agreed immediately to follow Dr. Albrecht’s recommended course for recovery, which called for him to receive a full series of spinal

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Ted Mooney

Spinal decompression is a pain-free, FDA-cleared treatment that works to restore herniated or bulging discs to a healthier state, thus relieving pain. The decompression procedure works by reversing the pressure on the injured discs, allowing them to heal, rather than just trying to cover up the pain with injections or medications.

“The treatment is performed while the patient lies on a specialized table that gently pulls on the two vertebrae on either side of the affected disc, producing a vacuum effect,” Dr. Albrecht informs. “This allows bulging material and nutrients to be drawn back into the disc over time, which allows it to rehydrate and heal naturally.

“Advanced technology and computerized load 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.”

Patients in a spinal decompression program are treated three times a week for about seven weeks. Each decompression treatment lasts about 30 minutes, after which most patients are treated with a combination of other modalities.

Those modalities include manual therapy, rehabilitative exercises, chiropractic care, ice, electrical stimulation and laser therapy, all of which help to speed up the healing process and are part of the typical disc rehabilitation program at St. Augustine Spine Center.

“One of the things that I really appreciate about Dr. Albrecht was how informative he was,” Ted says. “He told me everything about the treatment before we got started – how it was developed and everything – and that was really helpful.

“He even told me how it was important to make sure that I drink sixty ounces of water every day because hydrating the discs and the area around the spine is one of the keys to the spinal regeneration process.

“It made me feel very confident going into the treatment, which lasts for about thirty minutes on the table. Then, when you’re done, they do some manual therapy on you and have you do some additional stretches and things like that.”

At first, Ted couldn’t do many of the post-treatment stretching exercises. Over time, though, he was able to incorporate those stretches into his routine, the results of which have led to what Dr. Albrecht describes as a full resolution of his symptoms.

“When Ted started treatment, his average pain level was seven on a scale of zero to ten, and occasionally, it would go up to a nine,” Dr. Albrecht says. “But by the time we completed his treatment, his average pain was down to zero.

“He is no longer limping, and he has gone back to the gym and is working out again. His sleep is no longer being interrupted, and he is back to doing all the normal activities he was doing before. He’s had really good success with his treatment.”

Ted concurs, saying his treatment has made him “a very happy camper.” He’s a lighter camper, too, adding that his return to the gym has resulted in a loss of at least ten pounds of weight gained during the time he was inactive.

“This program really works, because I am able to do all the things I like to do again,” Ted enthuses. “The bottom line is, I feel great again, and I thank Dr. Albrecht for that.

“I say this all the time, but he saved my life. He really did, and that’s why I’ve already recommended him to some friends. I know of one who has already gone to see him and raves about him the same way that I do.”

Worth a Try

Unlike Ted, Allison* hasn’t reached retirement age just yet, but at 63, she says she “can see the other side, and it looks pretty good.” Unfortunately, Allison’s view of what lay ahead in retirement didn’t look all that promising a year ago.

“I had been dealing with some serious neck problems for about two years, and nothing I was doing was making it any better,” she says. “At first, I was going to a chiropractor and doing some physical therapy, which helped for a while, but it never lasted.

“Then about a year and a half ago, I went to an orthopedic surgeon. He was telling me we could try doing some cortisone shots, but if they didn’t work, I was looking at having surgery. That just frightened the heck out of me.

“I had disc surgery a long time ago on my back, and going through that was frightening enough. But of all the surgeries you can have, neck surgery to me is the most frightening. That was my ultimate last resort.”

Allison never had to seriously consider her ultimate last resort, thanks in part to her husband, who started looking through a copy of Florida Health Care News while he and Allison were waiting to be seated for dinner one night.

“He was reading this article about spinal decompression and told me to take a look at it,” Allison remembers. “The article was all about spinal decompression and St. Augustine Spine Center, and we thought, Why not give this a try? What have we got to lose?

“When Allison came in, she was having not just constant neck pain but constant upper back pain as well. She was also getting about ten headaches a month,” Dr. Albrecht reports. “As you might expect, those problems were really affecting her lifestyle.

“Allison is a very active person. She likes to play tennis and golf, does some weightlifting to stay in shape, rides a bicycle and walks her dog. All those things were being limited by her neck and upper back pain.”

“It’s unbelievable what the decompression therapy has done for me.” – Allison

After reviewing an MRI and learning of Allison’s previous attempts to rid herself of her neck and back pain, which included receiving massage therapy and taking muscle relaxers, Dr. Albrecht suggested she try spinal decompression as an alternative to surgery.

“The MRI showed degenerative disc disease and disc bulging at three levels in the mid-to-lower part of her neck,” Dr. Albrecht reports. “In that area of the spine, the normal diameter of the spinal canal should be twelve to fourteen millimeters. Hers was narrowed to seven, resulting in spinal stenosis. That made her a great candidate for spinal decompression.”

Proof Positive

Anxious to get off the muscle relaxers and resume her active lifestyle, Allison took Dr. Albrecht up on his recommendation and began the same spinal decompression program that Ted did in July of last year. The results, she says, have been miraculous.

“It’s unbelievable what the decompression therapy has done for me,” Allison exudes. “Through that and some stretching exercises that I’ve incorporated into my workout, I feel two-hundred-percent better than I did this time a year ago. Even the headaches are gone.”

Allison initially thought her headaches were the result of some severe sinus and asthma issues, but Dr. Albrecht believes their disappearance is proof they were actually being caused by Allison’s neck and upper back problems.

“By the time Allison completed the spinal decompression therapy, she had gone a month without a headache,” Dr. Albrecht says. “That told us they were actually coming from her neck, because we didn’t treat her for allergies or sinus issues at all.

“Which makes sense, because pressure on the neck and the spinal cord in that area so close to the back of the head can easily cause inflammation and the muscles in that area to tighten, which can irritate the head and lead to those headaches.”

It’s not just because of the spinal decompression treatments that Allison is feeling so much better. Allison says Dr. Albrecht also gave her some good advice regarding proper posture that has helped her keep the pain at bay as well.

“I work as a category manager for a food broker, and I sit at a computer all day analyzing data,” she says. “It turns out that I’ve been sitting at my computer the wrong way, and that has probably contributed to my neck problems.

“Dr. Albrecht suggested I have a co-worker take a random picture of me at my desk, and in the picture, I’m sitting on my legs all hunched over and turning my neck the wrong way. When I saw that, I thought, No wonder. I’m really not helping myself here.

“Dr. Albrecht gave me a diagram that shows me exactly how I should be sitting at my desk, and that has helped me, too. I also bought a posture pump like the one Dr. Albrecht has in his office, and I use that twice a day. That’s done a lot for me as well.

“Dr. Albrecht even told me that just getting up from my desk and walking around the office once every hour will make a difference, and I try to do that now, too. It’s why I highly recommend them and the spinal decompression for anyone who is facing neck or back surgery and thinks that’s their last resort. It’s not. There’s more you can do for yourself that will get you feeling right again, and I’m proof of it.”

*Patient’s name withheld at her request. 

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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

    • 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