Many people come in with what they are calling a herniated disc problem because they have pain in their back and pain in their leg and they think the disc is responsible.
Upon a physical examination, what we are finding out is that for many, this is a referral pain from a ligament meaning they have a sprain.
This is difficult for people to understand because they see the MRI, after they have been to the orthopedic surgeon or the neurosurgeon, they see a disc sticking out on the film, and I have have people with discs sticking out as much as 10 millimeters, and that would seem to be what is causing problems with pain, but it is not because it is not pressing on a nerve.
So when we check in the back or neck area we look for what people call trigger points or acupuncture points or referral patterns, areas of the body that when we press on them it refers pain somewhere else in the body. So we have a lot of people come in with referral pain down the arms and legs and they have a herniated disc, but the pain is not from a herniated disc – it is coming from a ligament sprain.
You just can’t read an MRI to decide what is going on with a patient, you have to use your hands and do an examination.
Do We Recommend Neck Surgery?
After low back pain, neck pain is probably one of the most frequent problems we see in the office that Prolotherapy is often successful in healing.
Aside from having neck pain, patients may also complain of associated symptoms like headache, jaw pain, irritable bowel syndrome, Barré-Lieou Syndrome with associated facial pain, ear pain, vertigo, tinnitus, loss of voice, or hoarseness.
One reason neck pain is so prevalent is that the weight of the head is not proportionate to the strength and size of the neck. Often times, laxity in the ligaments create pain down the arms, when most doctors think there is a radiculopathy, needing surgery.
I can’t remember one instance that I have recommended neck surgery. And be careful if you have pain down an arm which has been diagnosed as coming from a herniated disc. Prolotherapy injections treatment has been successful in ending the neck pain and the arm pain, no matter what the diagnosis is.
One of my patients came to me seeking pain relief from headaches. His surgeon told him that he had a herniated disc on the right side of his neck, and that without surgery, he would have terrible headaches the rest of his life. The headaches, however, were on the left side of the bottom of his head. When I touched his head (the occiput) he jumped, letting me know the headaches were coming from a sprain of the muscle attachments to the bottom of his head, and not from a herniated disc on the other side. After Prolotherapy treatment, the intensity of his head and neck pain is greatly diminished, and he is no longer taking anti-inflammatory medications.