If you want to avoid low back surgery, click on our video above (you may want to hit the replay button a few times to get a sense of it). It shows what happens to your low back bones when you walk (the green and red 3-D shapes). They move as well, but their movement is controlled with millisecond and millimeter precision by back muscles that you’ve never heard of called the lumbar multifidus. If you’ve read our e-book, Orthopedics 2.0, you know the multifidus (if you haven’t read it, see page 8 and read from there). This critical spine muscle lives deep in your low back and when it gets smaller and weaker, many research articles have shown that it causes low back pain and leg symptoms (sciatica).
Why? It’s job is to control the motion of the two vertebra as you move. As a result, when it’s weak or not working properly, there is excessive motion between the vertebrae, which leads to extra wear and tear on the facet joints and disc. In addition, this also provides less protection for the spine when you move suddenly, making it more likely for a nerve to get pinched and a really bad back episode to ensue.
Click on our video below to see what it looks like when you walk with a bad multifidus. Notice how the back bones move way too much compared to the video above. If “atrophy” (weakness) in this muscle is a such a big deal why hasn’t someone told you about it? Especially when this atrophy can be easily seen on a common low back MRI and as of today there are 54 research articles published on the phenomenon? Your guess is as good as mine. However, the Regenexx-DDD procedure was designed to address these multifidus issues. How? The multifidus muscle isn’t working because of chronic spinal nerve irritation, so any attempt at strengthening not only requires special physical therapy exercises, but also some strategy to calm down the nerve. In addition, in many patients with degenerative disc disease, the multifidus is only part of the stability problem as the ligaments are also lax and need to be tightened. Only the Regenexx-DDD procedure gets at the heart of all of these problems.
The upshot? Get your MRI reviewed by someone who knows how to read for these problems, or better yet, stay tuned as tomorrow I will teach you how to read your own MRI for this issue.