Easing Back Pain With Electricity

How debilitating can back pain be?

Dr. Shaff: Back pain is, I believe, the number two cause of missed work days in the United States. The only one that’s superior to that is the cold or flu. Back pain is a major economic problem in the United States because people miss time from work, and they also miss time from activities they enjoy, and family events and being with their family

It sounds like there’s so many things that can go wrong with your back.

Dr. Shaff: It’s multi-faceted, really taking care of people with back pain, and there are usually multiple causes. It’s usually caused over a lifetime of abuse and improper maintenance of our bodies and not taking care of our spines. We take better care of our teeth then our spines, actually.

What can we do to maintain our spines and why do we ignore them?

Dr. Shaff: I think we ignore them really basically from ignorance. We don’t realize, first of all, that posture is the basis of all good life, and by having good posture, being in alignment, all of your joints are going to work and that’s actually going to prevent you from having future arthritic degeneration of the spine. Arthritic degeneration and arthritic changes of the body are basically due to misalignments that occur over the course of a lifetime, and you start to get improper wear and tear on your joints, such as driving a car that’s got, let’s say, a bad alignment. If you never fix the alignment, the whole car is going to eventually go. We are not taught from early childhood that it’s important to have good posture, to exercise appropriately, to keep our body in alignment. Chiropractors specialize in making sure that the spinal alignment and the joints of our body are in proper place to keep it from breaking down in future degeneration

People think it’s imperative to go to the dentist, but not that it’s imperative to see a chiropractor.

Dr. Shaff: Very true, and they don’t think it’s important until they start to develop a pain, an issue. Most of the time a person has a pain or an issue, it’s from years of minor little aches and pains that we’ve basically been learning to live with or we’ll just pop a pill and the pain will go away temporarily, but we don’t really address the true cause, which is proper mechanics and proper alignment of the body.

What is this new device and how does it work?

Dr. Shaff: The device is called the Fenzian. The Fenzian initially came from Russia. It was developed for utilization in the space program for cosmonauts to try to give them an approach to treat pain without giving chemicals or drugs. They don’t want cosmonauts to necessarily have any kind of mind altering drugs because it’s very important that they are aware at all times. The technology then came to the west.

How long ago was this?

Dr. Shaff: This was back in the early 80s.

Was this something for them to use while they were in space?

Dr. Shaff: Yes, it was something for them to use while they were in space. It’s been utilized in Russia since 1986 at some of the hospitals there. This type of technology is an electrical wave form. It was brought to the west by a doctor, a surgeon, by the name of James Colthurst who is from Great Britain. James then has gone ahead and furthered the technology and now brought it to the west for doctors to utilize. I’ve been using the equipment for three years and have had excellent results. What the equipment basically does and what it basically is utilized for is to help treat pain, and it’s to help people with painful issues. The way that the device works is that our body and our nervous system normally communicate by way of electrical impulses. These electrical impulses are of a certain frequency and a certain type. Now when we have an injury, we have an illness, or we have a problem with our spine, what happens is we develop pinched nerves, and these pinched nerves then go ahead and the electrical frequency becomes abnormal. What the machine does is it detects areas of abnormal electrical frequency and goes ahead and puts in an electrical frequency that’s the exact same as the way the body normally communicates and it goes ahead and resets the electrical impulses, or the frequency, let’s say at that level, thereby going ahead and resetting the body to its normal electrical frequency. Then the body can heal itself.

How does it know what’s normal?

Dr. Shaff: It actually detects skin resistance, and it actually sends an electrical impulse into the body, bounces off. Then there’s a computer chip inside that adjusts the frequency, what it reads, and then goes ahead and continues to put an electrical frequency until the area becomes neutralized. It’s a constant biofeedback loop that’s going on with the machine as it’s sending an impulse into the body.

So it ignores the areas that have fine electrical impulses, but hones in on the areas that are problems?

Dr. Shaff: There’s actually an electrical meter on the machine. I can read the meter. Also there’s a technique where we just brush or we move the device and actually it’s kind of interesting. The device actually gets stuck on areas of lower electrical resistance, where we can’t brush it or sweep it over the body.

Is it a hand-held device?

Dr. Shaff: Yes, it is.

It seems like a pretty powerful device.

Dr. Shaff: It is very powerful and it really has made some significant recovery for my patients. As a chiropractor, what we’re primarily dealing with is there’s one system of the body that controls and coordinates functions that’s your nervous system and your brain — any type of issue that creates an imbalance in the nervous system, that doesn’t let the body communicate properly is going to create illness and problems. As a chiropractor, it’s my job to find where the nervous system is not working properly. As a chiropractor, what I do is I manually take the pressure off the nerve by doing a chiropractic treatment adjustment. In the past when I would do that then we would just wait for the body to reset the electrical impulse naturally. Now I can go ahead and after I do my chiropractic adjustment, apply the Fenzian. Electrically I can reset that nervous system and the body can heal that much quicker and the frequency comes more into balance quicker. We see faster recovery, reduction in muscle spasm, reduction in swelling and inflammation, I would say 50 percent faster than I ever saw before, not utilizing the Fenzian

Do you still do a chiropractic adjustment first?

Dr. Shaff: I do that on many of patients that we utilize the Fenzian on. We do chiropractic adjustments and chiropractic care.

How do you know where the area is that needs to be adjusted?

Dr. Shaff: It’s based upon where the patient hurts and also based upon this technique of rubbing, where the machine will actually get stuck and there’s an issue there, often after I’ve given an adjustment, I know that that area needs to be treated with the Fenzian. I’ll apply the Fenzian and this last method. We actually take digital measurements along the spine and the nervous system. If they are out of balance, we can then go ahead and I’ll apply the treatment there, but the Fenzian also is a standalone device, and there are times that I do utilize the Fenzian for just let’s say a sprained shoulder, or a knee issue or other parts of the body to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain. It is a standalone device for that too.

What have studies on the Fenzian shown?

Dr. Shaff: Research has basically been done through Dr. Colthurst in Great Britain. He’s very active in researching this and I believe there are some research studies currently going on throughout the United States and in Great Britain, showing that the Fenzian is extremely beneficial in speeding recovery. There’s also a lot of clinical data that has been obtained from doctors utilizing the Fenzian and therapists showing people getting back to their act ivies much quicker.

How is this device affecting patient’s lives?

Dr. Shaff: Well the situation is that, when we get injured, our body gets stuck in sort of what we call a feedback loop. This feedback loop is sort of like a skip in a record and that skip gets stuck and the person gets stuck in a pain frequency. What the Fenzian does is it breaks the pain frequency or it unsticks the record, and allows the body now to continue to go through the healing process. Very often with patients who’ve had chronic pain or a new injury, before they get stuck in a pain frequency, or if they’ve had a chronic problems and they are stuck there, we apply the Fenzian and the Fenzian allows that natural healing to occur by promoting proper electrical frequencies that allows healing and reduce pain.

Are there side effects from using the Fenzian?

Dr. Shaff: There are no known side effects. The only times that you cannot use the Fenzian is on people that have electrical implants such as a pacemaker or defibrillator because you may disturb the electrical frequency of those.

What type of conditions can it be used on? Is it any kind of back pain — upper, lower, middle?

Dr. Shaff: It’s utilized for most back pain. We have very good results with acute injuries. Chronic injuries take a longer time. I’ve been very effective with patients that have herniated disks, have spinal stenosis, and helping them reduce the pain and inflammation on a quicker level. It’s extremely beneficial for sports injuries, sprains, strains. If there is a lot of tissue damage to an area — let’s say like person has a rotator cuff tear and it’s totally torn — well it’s going to help reduce the swelling, the inflammation and the pain, but if there is tissue damage, it’s not going to repair the tissue damage.

Does this help with sciatic nerve problems?

Dr. Shaff: Sciatica is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve — a nerve that exits our lower back and goes down our leg. By taking inflammation out of the area using the Fenzian and also restoring the normal electrical supply back into the region of the body, the body is going to go ahead and heal that and reduce the pain impulses. It primarily influences a type of pain fiber called a C fiber.

How does the Fenzian reduce inflammation?

Dr. Shaff: It’s done using electrical impulses. By improving the electrical impulses, the body then goes through a healing process. If we have improper frequency going on in that area, the body can’t mount a defense and can’t start the healing process, so people with, for example, chronic tendinitis, their body doesn’t recognize it and can’t mount a defense to start to heal that process until it can communicate properly with the brain, again through the nervous system. This is sort of like a reset button on a computer where we go ahead and reset the electrical impulse, then the master computer, or the brain, which can now communicate with the rest of the body, especially that region that’s been injured, and allow natural healing to occur.

Does Fenzian need to be done repeatedly for the pain to stay away?

Dr. Shaff: Great question. In the initial phases, when we are first starting to treat somebody, we’re often going to see them three times a week for a period of about a month. After that we start to see a person less frequently — twice a week, once a week — until we get them to a point where they’re feeling relatively well and pain-free. At that point we do recommend maintenance therapy and maintenance therapy is anywhere between once or twice a month with the Fenzian, but most people start to feel a result with the Fenzian within about three to six visits.

You’ve been in this industry for so long. What are your thoughts on this new device?

Dr. Shaff: My thoughts are that I don’t know if I would ever want to practice chiropractic without the Fenzian in the future, because it allows me to, as I stated earlier, to restore the electrical impulse and the connection of the nervous system throughout the body. As a chiropractor, our primary goal is to restore the normal electrical supply of the brain the nervous system and the body. By utilizing the Fenzian I’m able to do my chiropractic care to realign the person, allow the natural nerve enervation to an area, but the Fenzian jump starts the whole body again, sort of like putting a battery to it, or to a car and getting the car to have more juice; it jump starts the body and allows it to speed the recovery.

If your insurance covers chiropractic care, would is also cover the Fenzian?

Dr. Shaff: It may in fact cover it, yes. Many insurances cover Fenzian care.

If someone were to come and pay out of pocket, is it an expensive treatment?

Dr. Shaff: It’s not an expensive treatment. After we’ve done an initial examination to determine if the person is a candidate for either chiropractic with Fenzian or Fenzian alone, visits run anywhere between $50 and $75.

Roughly how many people are offering treatments with Fenzian in the United States?

Dr. Shaff: I don’t know. Unfortunately there aren’t enough practitioners right now. Dr. James Colthurst originally brought the equipment to the United States and started working with doctors here, because he’s a researcher and primarily does all of his work in Europe. He went back to England and is now concentrating on his research and practice there, and has not been back to the United States in over a year to teach more doctors how to use the device. I get calls on a regular basis from doctors wanting to know more about it, wanting to study it and use it. Unfortunately, you have to go to England now to study with James to really know the technique and the process.

Source: Ivanhoe News
Alan Shaff, D.C., a chiropractor at Boca Delray Chiropractic and Holistic Care Center in Delray Beach, Fla.,

Uneven Limbs

You could go your whole life and never know that you had one leg shorter than the other one. And if it doesn’t cause you any problems, why should you care? Well, what a lot of people don’t realize is that pain they’re feeling somewhere else could be caused by those uneven legs!

Some of us have one leg an entire half-inch shorter than the other, and it never causes a day’s worry. For others, though, even a quarter of that means trouble — like in Gwynn DeLong’s case.

Gwynn: “I’ve been having problems with my back, pain in my back and also when I brush my teeth I notice that instead of bending straight down I bend sideways.”

Patients may often be the first to realize their legs aren’t even.

Physiatrist: “Some people will notice it throughout their lives based on the length of their pants. They’ll notice the tailor has to take up a little mroe on one pant leg versus the other.”

X-rays clearly show the effects of having one short limb. The spine has to curve to compensate, the muscles have to shorten to adapt … it all adds up to back pain.”

Physiatrist: “To make sure that that’s a problem is if you see a curvature in the spine, if we just put sheets of paper or booklets — or the magazine that the patients brought into the room — underneath the foot that looks short and see if that straightens out the spine.”

To correct the deficit you can try an orthotic, a heel cup, or a heel insert worn in the shoe. That’s what Gwynn uses. When the problem is treated in children the legs can actually grow to match up. Uncorrected, they can get worse.

Gwynn saw improvement in just a few weeks.

If you suspect a problem, see someone who specializes in low back pain. Maybe all you need is a little “lift”.

Of course, some patients have more serious problems that can only be corrected with surgery. Even if shoe inserts are the answer, you should also count on doing back-strengthening exercises to get those starined muscles back in shape.

Microdiskectomy: Back Surgery To Go

Back surgery patients who used to remain in the hospital for five to six days are now walking out within hours after the operation. This day surgery is being performed at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, for athletes and others who need repair on herniated disks.

Microdiskectomy takes about an hour. Recovery time at home has been reduced to two to four weeks. “Compared to the standard surgical procedure, microdiskectomy has a shorter healing time, a quicker back-to-work time and is less costly,” says Dr. David Baskin. The technique can also be used for bone spurs caused by disk degeneration.

A herniated disk occurs when the disk, or cushion, pushes out from between the spine’s vertebrae. The part of the disk that herniates presses against the nerves that extend to the legs, causing pain, numbness, tingling or weakness. The severity of pain ranges from mild to excruciating. Partial paralysis of the leg is possible.

Ideal for Athletes

Baskin told Medical Breakthroughs, “The micro-surgery procedure is ideal for athletes and exercisers because the incision is smaller, and there is less need to detach muscles in the affected area. A surgical microscope is used to see the area through a one-inch incision, and a small amount of bone is removed. The degenerated part of the disk is cleaned out, and enough tissue is left to provide the necessary cushion between the vertebrae. If more soft tissue were cut or removed, patients would require more time to recover.

“Some patients require little or no rehabilitation other than strengthening and stretching the muscles of the back,” explains Baskin. “Walking and performing normal daily activities can be resumed the day of surgery, but we still recommend four to six weeks before participating in active exercise.”

Final Step?

Does this represent the final step in back surgery? “We haven’t even scratched the surface,” claims Baskin. “Although we do some cleaning out, what is left is not a perfect disk. Now, researchers are working on a prosthesis — an artificial disk that would replace the herniated one. That will be a major breakthrough in back surgery.

“Since the technique requires familiarity with the surgical microscope,” concludes Baskin, “people interested in microdiskectomy should contact orthopedic surgeons or neurosurgeons specifically trained in this technique.”

Source: Ivanhoe

My Aching Back – Doctor’s Interview

Why is chronic back or leg pain so debilitating?

Dr. Faller: Primarily because it’s a long-term problem. It’s something that is, in many cases, not going to get better. The people who experience it are experiencing a severe intensity of pain and many of them are told, “I’m sorry you’re just going to have to live with it.” And that is something that affects usually every aspect of their lives. They are unable to work. They are unable to function as they normally would, and they find any kind of activity to be very, very painful to them.

Because almost anything you do involves your back?

Dr. Faller: Just about anything you do will affect it. Some people find it hard even to find a comfortable position in which to lie. Some people find it very difficult to sit for any period of time. Standing is uncomfortable. Walking is uncomfortable. There’s just no way to get around being uncomfortable.

Why is back pain so difficult to treat?

Dr. Faller: First of all there are a lot of different areas in the back that can contribute to the generation of pain. Sometimes it’s difficult to isolate exactly where the pain is coming from which can make it very difficult to treat. Many people find that they have a problem that would possibly be helped by surgery, but then they have the surgery and their pain continues. So it’s something that’s sometimes difficult to diagnose and secondly is difficult to treat in many cases.

What can you do with the myeloscope that you can’t do through standard diagnostic tools or standard surgery?

Dr. Faller: The myeloscope allows us to go into the central access of the back, into the epidural space and actually visualize what’s happening there. Which is something that to this point we have been really unable to accomplish. We’ve been able to do things like x-rays and MRIs and myelograms, but these things don’t give us a direct visualization of what’s occurring in that area. And so it lets us see what’s happening around the nerves that are involved that are generating the pain.

So you can actually see that?

Dr. Faller: Yes. We can see that. It’s like taking a small camera and putting it in there and looking around.

How does that help the patient?

Dr. Faller: Well for one thing it helps us in some cases to be able to identify the problem. And in many people, we find that the problem is related to scar tissue that has developed in the area around the nerves. And in some people, it’s secondary to surgery that they may have had. Just the natural healing of the body produces scar tissue. In other cases we find that the scar tissue might develop because of something that’s been chronically irritating the area. Such as a degenerated disk or a bone spur or a bulging disk or something to that affect.

What patients are good candidates for the use of the myeloscope?

Dr. Faller: The best candidates are people who have a very well-defined pathologic problem. And by that I mean we can trace the path of the nerve that’s affected and there’s one location that is causing the problem. People who have back pain from their neck down to their tailbone are people who are not very good candidates for this kind of problem because the problem is extremely diffused, and it’s very unlikely that we are going to be able to help something that is that extensive. So usually a problem that is coming from one specific location would be the very best candidate.

If I’m a patient at home and I tend to always have a nagging pain, what are we talking about?

Dr. Faller: Actually we’re talking about an area that follows the course of the nerve. So it would be more likely to come from your back and head down into your hip and maybe down your leg and to your foot. But it would follow a distinct nerve pathway.

It would almost be like a line?

Dr. Faller: Essentially, it could cover a wider area than a line, but it would follow the course of that nerve.

Is it always back to leg to feet?

Dr. Faller: Not always. Some people come in saying, “Man, my ankle is killing me,” and come to find out it’s not really their ankle that’s the problem. It can be coming from a nerve in their back. So it may not actually follow that entire course. They may not see pain that starts in the back and very nicely progresses down the leg. They might find it somewhere more distal to that without really thinking that their back is even involved.

Who are you trying to reach for this? Are you able to say you should check into this if you have ankle pain? Are you able to characterize the clinical profile?

Dr. Faller: The type of people who would probably require this type of treatment are usually people who have been seeing their family doctors or some other type of doctor for a problem that is just not getting better. And it’s usually something that has been looked at but has not been helped yet. And usually if a problem just developed, the first step would not be to come to us for this type of procedure. There are a lot of other types of things that can very often help the problem with just conservative treatment. And so that’s something that usually we would like to have looked at first. Things like medications and rest and physical therapy and things like that are usually the first line for problems like this.

How did the myeloscope help Mrs. Bragg?

Dr. Faller: With the myeloscope we were able to go into her back and look at the problem and discovered that there was a great deal of scar tissue that was affecting one of the nerves. And that was the source of her pain. So with the myeloscope, we were able to bluntly dissect the scar tissue away from the nerve. And then we were also able to directly inject medication in the area of the nerve where we could see that it was being injected right where we wanted it to be.

Is that a permanent fix?

Dr. Faller: We’re not entirely certain of that. Actually the procedure itself is quite new. It’s only been FDA-approved since September. We don’t have a lot of really long-term data. We do have patients who have had the procedure done a year or 18 months or so ago who are still doing quite well. But we don’t really know what to expect at 10, 20 years from now.

What should a person who feels they may benefit from this do?

Dr. Faller: What they need to do is first talk it over with their family doctor or if they’re seeing a spine surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon or someone like that, talk it over with their physician and see what they think of the issue. There are a lot of patients who have not had very much done in the way of just the first treatments, and if they came to us having had not much else done we would not jump right to this type procedure. We would start with more conservative treatments. However if they are the kind of patients who have been to pain clinics all over the country and they’ve had every type of imaginable procedure done, this might be something that would be effective for them. But what we would do initially would have them be referred to us, and then we would consult with them and evaluate their situation and what types of things have been done and what their problem might be related to. And if we felt this might be something that would be helpful to them, then we would recommend that this be done. I do have to say that not everybody really would be a candidate for this.

Are there any side effects or complications?

Dr. Faller: There are complications to any type of procedure. However this is really a very safe procedure. To this point there have really been no complications of any kind to my awareness.

Are you excited about the myeloscope?

Dr. Faller: Oh, we’re very excited about it. It does give us a distinct tool that we can use to help people get better. And it’s something that’s very fascinating and very effective in many patients.

Once it spreads to other doctors around the country, do you envision it changing back treatment? Do you feel this is a new path to be taken?

Dr. Faller: I think this is kind of a new path to be taken. It is a new instrument that we have available to us now that I think is in a very embryonic stage. I’m hoping that we’ll see further development of it. We’re looking forward to the day when perhaps we can pass instrumentation down through it to maybe be able to work more with small instruments in that area. There’s talk of perhaps laser capability. There are a lot of different things that are probably on the horizon, in the works being developed. But at this point in time, it’s very new and consequently it’s still in the growing phase.

It’s very safe?

Dr. Faller: Very safe. We’ve done close to 200 cases at this point in time here in our clinic and have never had any complications from them. I don’t know how many cases have been done overall, but at this point in time I’ve not heard of any problems of any kind as far as long-term effects or anything. One thing that I usually do tell patients is initially following the procedure for the next several days to maybe a week it might increase the intensity of the pain just a little bit because we are working in there around nerves that are already irritated. So most patients are aware of that but that’s not really a complication or a side effect. That’s kind of an expected outcome. But then the long term effect is what we’re actually looking for.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week.