Health, Fitness and Injury Management

Lumbar Spine and Bulging Discs - Part 1

Written by Dr. Michael Buna.

Are you concerned about your x-ray or MRI findings?

Doctors often rely heavily on medical imaging procedures such as x-rays, ultrasounds, CT Scans and MRIs for diagnosing fractures, dislocations, spinal cord injuries etc. It is important to know that these procedures may not be of value for explaining other “injuries.” As Dr. Buna explains it, these “diagnoses” can in fact, cause you to experience longer lasting pain, greater disability and a lowered sense of overall health. One article that he read recommends against becoming a “VOMIT” – a VICTIM of Medical Imaging Technology.

lower back pain - is it a disc? muscle? ligament?What does this mean for the average person with a chronically sore back? Or neck?

“According to current medical research, 40% of people under the age of 30 show disc degeneration in the lumbar spine” states Dr Buna.

Look around you – 4 of the 10 people you see have disc degeneration. Approximately 90% of people between the ages of 50-55 show disc degeneration- that's 9 of 10! In a third study of young adults (aged 20-22), experiencing no back pain, ~50% had at least one degenerated disc and 25% showed a bulging disc. All this disc degeneration and bulging, yet these people who are not experiencing pain! What does this mean?

“Leading physicians at the department of neurosurgery at the University of California strongly recommend against the routine use of MRI for low back pain, since they found NO LINK between degenerative changes seen on x-rays or MRI's and low back pain.”

After 3 decades working with people’s backs and necks, Dr. Buna agrees. Bulging discs, disc degeneration, arthritic changes will show up using medical imaging technology, but they may not be causing any pain. That is because discs degeneration and bulge as a normal part of life. There is no need for alarm, distress or worry.

Instead of medical imaging as a first option, Dr. Buna highly recommends learning to listen to your own body and paying attention to the signals that it sends you. When your back or neck are in pain or when your joints are uncomfortable, this is a signal from your body that something isn’t working well. It may be a disc but it can also be the muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and so on.

So the next time you find yourself experiencing back or neck pain, take a moment to consider what this might be saying to you about your body.

Also remember that Dr. Buna is always here to help you to figure out what is causing your pain, and how to resolve the pain, without using medical imaging technology.

Translation: Do not panic if your x-ray or MRI shows “problems" with your discs. These are normal changes that happen from the age of 20 onwards.

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