Your Low Back Pain Is From Slipped Joints, Not Slipped Discs


backache illustration
Lower Back Pain

Many people experiencing lower back pain are told it is from a bad disc and need medications, injections or surgery. However, research has proven that those having low back pain in reality have spinal joint problems. This article will explain what is the cause of most lower back pain and what can be done about it.

Let’s, initially, put to bed and extinguish the idea that lower back pain is caused by a bad disc. A recent study performed at the Mayo Clinic and published in The American Journal of Neuroradiology confirms that MRI scans showing intervertebral disc problems are not the source of back pain. The researchers found that MRI scans showing disc problems are exceedingly common in pain free people. In other words, people who have no lower back pain can have an MRI that can show a disc bulge, protrusion and degeneration and still have no pain.

The researchers said that their study indicates that findings of narrowing of the disk space, disc degeneration, loss of disc height and other disc abnormalities are part of the normal aging process rather than pathological processes requiring intervention. They went further to say that most of the disk degenerative changes are no more significant than gray hair or crow’s feet around the eyes.

Let’s also clarify the term “slipped disc.” Medically a disc does not slip back and forth. It can bulge, protrude, herniate or degenerate. It does not slip back and forth or slip out of place. Slipped disc is a layman’s term similar to trick knee, cauliflower ear or double-jointed.

If the intervertebral discs are not the source of back pain what is? Again, much scientific research indicates that it is from the misalignment and improper motion of the spinal joints. There are 24 spinal bones called vertebrae which makes up our spinal column. Between each vertebrae there are joints which are called the facet joints. Because of the strain we put on our backs in the course of our everyday activities the facet joints undergo a significant amount of stress. Accumulation of this stress can cause these joints to become misaligned and not move properly. The medical term for this is “joint dysfunction.” When this occurs it creates the majority of the lower back pain that we experience day-to-day. In a sense, we could create a layman’s term and call this condition “slipped joints”.

The majority of people suffering from low back pain due to joint dysfunction can be helped by doctors of chiropractic. Chiropractic care should be the first line of treatment. It is successful in a significant majority of cases where people are suffering from low back pain.

The next time a person is heard saying “I have a slipped disc and need surgery” they should be told “You have slipped joints and need chiropractic treatment.”

Here are some tips to look for when choosing a Pittsburgh chiropractor for low back pain. Dr James Schofield has been providing chiropractic care for lower back pain in the Pittsburgh North Hills area for 33 years.



Your First Chiropractic Visit

Your First Chiropractic Visit

If you’ve not been to a chiropractor previously and are experiencing neck pain, low back pain, headaches, sciatica or other pain, you might have questions about what to expect and maybe even some concerns. Please relax. This article will give you information and an introduction about your first visit. 

Your Health History

Just as with any of your other health practitioners you will be asked to fill out some written information that gives your name, address and so on. You will also answer questions including:

  •  Where is your pain or complaint?
  •  When did it start?
  • What caused it to begin?

Next you will meet with your chiropractor so that he can talk further with you about your health condition. He will want to know if your complaint is keeping you from being able to sleep normally, do your usual job and work duties, perform chores at home or in the yard and enjoy hobbies, sports or social activities. It will also be helpful to know if you’ve been to other doctors as many people who come to chiropractors have already seen other health care practitioners with little or no success. Chiropractors pride themselves in being able to help people who have not had help elsewhere.

Checking You Physically

Your chiropractor is thoroughly trained in anatomy and physiology for the conditions he treats just as are all your other doctors. Therefore, he will check things such as:

  •  Your posture
  •  Your movements and range of motion of your neck, lower back and possibly your extremities
  •  Gently feeling the painful area to determine if you have muscle spasm, tenderness and swelling
  •  If you have muscle weakness
  •  If you have loss of feeling or numbness
  •  Determine if you have a pinched nerve, irritated nerves or misaligned spinal bones called vertebrae
  •  Methods to tell if you have a disc problem

Other Studies

If you’ve had x-rays, MRI, CT scans, or other diagnostic studies, your chiropractor will want to know. He may take x-rays in his office if he feels it will help him to know more about your condition and to rule out the possibilities of fracture, cancer, infection, or other non-chiropractic factors. Chiropractors have extensive training in the taking and reading of x-rays.

Determining Treatment

After your chiropractor has reviewed your written history, talked with you, checked you physically, and studied your x-rays and other information, he will put it all together and correlate the various data. Then he will be able to determine if you have a condition he can help. If so, he will answer all your questions including:

  •  What is wrong
  • What treatment will bring relief of pain and help correct the problem
  •  How long it will take for you to improve
  •  What it will cost and how insurance may pay

Of course, if he sees that you have a problem that is not a chiropractic condition and needs to be treated medically or by another type of healthcare practitioner, he will tell you that, too.

At that point, you can determine if you would like to begin treatment. Many times you can be treated on your initial visit. You will never be pressured or obligated to have treatment should you desire not to.

How Long Will You be at the Doctor’s Office on the First Visit

Usually you should give yourself an hour. If your condition is complicated or is more involved it may take longer. It’s important that the process isn’t rushed, but neither should it take all day.

Remember, your chiropractor has had undergraduate and Chiropractic School education, passed a national test as well as your state’s examination and takes ongoing continuing education just like your other doctors. By following through on your chiropractor’s advice you’ll usually find considerable relief of symptoms and restoration of health.

Here are some tips to look for when choosing a chiropractor in Pittsburgh. Dr James Schofield has been in chiropractic practice in the Pittsburgh North Hills area for 33 years.

Calvin’s Story

Calvin Chiang 1
Calvin Chiang & Dr James Schofield

“I had soreness, stiffness, and pain around my neck, upper and lower back. Dr. Schofield realigned my spine which can become misaligned over time. He also relaxed the tight muscles around the problem areas in my neck and back. It has helped me to sleep better giving me more energy throughout the day. Having energy is important in my busy day to day life. Dr. Schofield is a caring doctor who takes time to listen to the issues that you are having and takes interest to treat those problems. He always has good advice and often gives you alternative things to do at home to further prevent the problems from happening again. I have been going to his practice for many years and he is the best.” – Calvin Chiang

To learn more about the treatment of chiropractic care for neck pain visit our site. Here is some information to look for when choosing a chiropractor in Pittsburgh.

How Do I Choose A Chiropractor?

James Schofield DC

The question most people ask D. James J. Schofield is, “What is chiropractic?”  The question you should also ask yourself are, “How should I choose my chiropractor?” and “How can chiropractic help me?”

As to what chiropractic is, it is a method of examining, diagnosing and treating our bodies for certain health problems.

Most conditions of poor health are the result of some underlying cause within the body which must be found first before correction can be affected, pain relieved and health restored.

Chiropractic has developed special techniques for locating and correcting misalignments and improper movement of the bones of the spine that disturb, impinge or pinch the nerves exiting the spinal column.  These nerves, when irritated, can cause a variety of symptoms.

Chiropractic treatment helps to correct this irritation to the nerves naturally, without the use of drugs, medication or surgery.

How should you choose you chiropractor?

Schofield offers this advice:

“First, of course, your chiropractor, just as any other health practitioner, should be someone in whom you can have trust and confidence.  He also should be someone who can thoroughly understand your particular problem.  That is something you can decide after a personal consultation.

“Second, you must look at qualifications.  My personal record is a four-year undergraduate degree in human biology followed by a five-year degree as a doctor of chiropractic at National College of Chiropractic in Chicago, Illinois.

“These doctoral classes essentially were divided into two halves.  The first half included basic courses all doctors study, such as anatomy, chemistry, pathology and physiology.  The second half dealt more with clinical courses like diagnosis, X-ray, physical therapy and spinal correction called manipulation.

“In addition, I served a one-year internship at various clinics and an in-patient hospital-like facility, all in the Chicago area.

“After graduation, I practiced as director of chiropractic office in New Jersey.  I also passed state board examinations in Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey.  Each state examination is different, with varying qualifications.

“Thirty three years ago, I began private practice here in North Hills, where I was born and raised and prefer to be.

“As in all fields of health care, new teaching and new approaches are developing and improving constantly.  To be on top of these, I attend seminars regularly.  While certain basics of chiropractic remain the same, there are always new developments.

“As to how chiropractic can help you personally, if you are suffering from symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, low back pain or other related problems, I urge you to seek my help.

“I first will consult with you about your problem.  Next, a thorough examination will be performed and a report of the examination findings will be explained, including the cause of the problem and what treatment will be required to make the necessary correction.

“We usually find that by then following through on these treatment recommendations, complete or considerable correction of the problem results in symptom relief and restoration of health.  Of course, should the problem not be a chiropractic condition, referral will be made to the appropriate health specialist.

“I urge anyone who has a health problem they feel may be helped by chiropractic to have it taken care of properly so they may enjoy the benefits of a healthy, pain-free life.”

To learn more about non-surgical, drug free health care search for options available to you. Visit the link to find if your insurance coverage covers your chiropractic care.



Office Workers and Chronic Neck Pain

Anyone who has to sit long hours at a desk, computer or classroom is at risk for ongoing neck and upper back pain. The discomfort can be tightness across the tops of the shoulders, ache or burning in the neck and shoulder blades or a feeling of tiredness in the neck as if the head is too heavy. We wish we could be up and about normally but computers, meetings and classes are the cards we are dealt in the life we live.

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Office Worker Posture

The wrong thing to do is to do nothing. There are steps we can take to mitigate and manage the stress that accumulates from our sedentary lifestyle. This article will discuss the four actions we can take to take back our health.

First, believe it or not, we do not have to sit to do computer work, attend a meeting or take a class. We can stand while attending to these duties. Technology now exists to have a variable desk that allows us to put our computer on a desktop that can be raised so that we can use it while standing at our worksite. Typically, these items come with a spring-loaded lift mechanical system to raise or lower the desk platform. Platforms can be two-tiered for placement of our monitor and keyboard. Additionally, it would be wise to also obtain an anti-fatigue floormat on which to stand. A quick search of the Internet will show many types of standing variable desks at various prices.

If one is required to attend a meeting or take a class it is perfectly acceptable to stand in the back of the room periodically. As a matter of etiquette it would probably be well for one to inform the speaker, the supervisor or teacher of the meeting or class prior to the start that you intend to get out of your seat and stand periodically. Be minimally disruptive.

The second step one can take to be proactive if required to be sedentary for long periods of time is to perform some preventative exercises. Usually it is helpful to stretch muscles of the front of our neck and upper body and strengthen muscles in the back of the neck and lower shoulder blade area. An Internet search of the term “Upper Crossed Syndrome” will provide an overview of what should be done. When I see a patient who has chronic neck and upper back problems I will typically demonstrate and supervise the appropriate exercises to be performed. These simple and quick exercises are great to help provide ongoing management to minimize problems.

Our third preventative activity to take is the most simple but powerful activity of human can perform; simply walking. Walking with good posture and swinging one’s arms freely is the best exercise we can perform. I call it “the antidote for sitting.” Walking is what human beings have done before tens of thousands of years. Our bodies are adapted to it and need it. However, in the past several generations we have gone from walking miles a day to being couch potatoes. Any chance one gets to take a walk whether it be five minutes or an hour should be seized. Ideally, several 5 to 15 minute daily walks during break times are ideal along with two or three 30 to 60 minute walks per week.

Our fourth recommended remedy to counteract prolonged sitting is to obtain periodic chiropractic care. Chiropractic treatment will help a person to keep good spinal alignment and motion of the neck and upper back. Chiropractors are also experts at explaining proper posture, exercises to perform and other activities needed to address the mechanical stress associated with long hours of sitting.

We do not have to become victims of a sedentary lifestyle and suffer ill effects. While it is best to take measures when one initially starts to sit for prolonged time periods these ideas can be implemented any time by anyone.

To find out more about UPMC neck pain care and UPMC chiropractic care visit the  highlighted links.

Ashlyn’s Story

I’m 22 years old. Before going to Dr. Schofield, I had been experiencing chronic back pain for years, which kept gradually getting worse as I got older.

Ashlyn Smilowitz 1
Ashlyn Smilowitz & Dr James Schofield

I knew I had made the right decision in going to Dr. Schofield based on my first visit. He had asked me many questions about the pain I was experiencing and how my daily activities affect it. After he explained my x-rays to me and used images to show me what was truly going on, I also had a better understanding of why I was experiencing pain. He gave me hope that it would get better.

I am a full-time student and video editor, which means I do a lot of sitting. It has led to a lot of issues that keep me from doing the things I used to be able to do such as; daily chores, sleeping on my side, or even going to concerts because I was standing in one spot for too long.

Making the decision to get help from Dr. Schofield’s practice changed my overall quality of life. Before when I came in I was completely slouched over and very sore. I can finally stand up straight without any pain and enjoy all of the things I used to!

To learn more about Dr James Schofield and his chiropractic office click these links.

Headache Hope

There is hope for those suffering from headaches according to a recent research study. Many individuals suffer from varying types of headaches. Some experience tension headaches, others have migraine headaches, still others are plagued by sinus headaches and some develop cluster headaches. One of the unfortunate hallmark problems for those with headaches is that the headache can occur randomly. If the headache is of a debilitating type it can severely interfere with a person’s planned activities. I have seen patients have to cancel work trips, vacations and social engagements due to their condition.

Headache Pain

A scientific study published by BioMed Central Musculoskeletal Disorders, February 2016 gives insight on treatment and relief for those who suffer from this malady. 130 individuals in a study compared cervical and thoracic manipulation to mobilization and exercise for treatment of cervicogenic headaches (headaches caused by cervical dysfunction). The results of this study revealed that 6 to 8 sessions, received in four weeks, of cervical and thoracic manipulation provided greater reductions in headache intensity, frequency and duration than a course of treatment involving only mobilization and exercise. The authors of the study add that the benefits of manipulation persisted when the patients were re-examined three months later.

Clarification of the terms manipulation and mobilization is needed. Manipulation is a physical procedure performed by the healthcare practitioner, by hand, involving a quick but gentle movement to restore alignment and proper motion to an area of the spine. Mobilization involves a slow rocking or stretching maneuver of the healthcare practitioner by hand to the area involved.

In the research study mentioned, treatment was directed to the upper bones of the neck. These are called the vertebrae of the upper cervical spine.

Those who were given manipulation to this area experienced an improvement of decreased intensity and decreased frequency of their headaches. Additionally, their headaches interfered less in the activities of daily living and quality of their day to day lives. These benefits persisted when the patients were reevaluated three months later. Those receiving mobilization as the primary form of treatment did not experience a similar benefit.

The profession that performs more manipulative therapy treatment than all others is that of chiropractic. Doctors of chiropractic receive hundreds of hours of training in manipulation. Chiropractic education involves five years of study involving courses such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and others. All chiropractic institutions have a process of training so that their students are considered to be the “gold standard” in delivering the best manipulative treatment that can possibly be given. It should be noted that chiropractors use the terms “manipulation” and “adjusting” interchangeably.

Although chiropractors utilize many forms of therapy such as exercises and physiological therapeutics their primary focus of treatment is considered to be spinal manipulation. Because of the extensive training and clinical experience chiropractors have with manipulation, researchers consider the chiropractic profession to be superior healthcare specialists for this type of treatment.

Although there are certainly other causes for headaches the majority of people suffering from this condition should investigate whether they are a candidate for cervical spinal manipulation for relief of their malady.

Visit this site to learn more about drug-free treatment for headaches. Dr. James Schofield has natural treatment methods to help headache sufferers

Consumer Reports Says: “The Better Way to Get Back Pain Relief”

Low Back Pain

Consumer Reports notes in its June 2017 issue that there is a new approach in the treatment of lower back pain. It describes a gentleman who had originally injured his lower back as a combat soldier in the Vietnam War who received chiropractic treatment, massage, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi through the Veterans Administration to help him gain relief of his pain. He states that in past years he was not able to obtain these types of therapies as they were considered alternative and fringe.

Traditionally the common medical approach to the treatment of lower back pain has been through the use of medication and surgery. However, new research shows that nonsurgical, nondrug therapies are more effective in the treatment of back pain. Consumer Reports reveals that a study published in February 2017 by the American College of Physicians- which represents primary care doctors, the providers patients consult most often for a back ache- issued new guidelines for the treatment of back pain. The research declares that the first order of treatment for lower back pain should be nondrug, hands-on therapies.

The hands-on treatment recommended include chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, yoga, and tai chi. These therapies are now considered to be the gold standard approach to the treatment of lower back pain.

This is especially important with the growing opioid medication addiction crisis prominent in the United States. Some feel opioid pharmaceuticals such as Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin have been prescribed capriciously for lower back pain. Yet a recent review in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that opioids didn’t provide significant relief for people with chronic lower back pain. It is now common knowledge that opioid drugs are not safe due to their strong tendency to create narcotic addictions and overdose deaths.

Consumer Reports also notes that back surgery should also be the last option. Even conditions like a herniated or slipped disc may respond, over time, with less aggressive, simpler therapies.

It is important to realize that everyone responds differently in the treatment of a painful back. It is best to consult with doctors and therapists who use an alternative, conservative approach to care. When consulting a health care specialist about lower back pain certain factors should be observed. First the clinician should sit down with a patient and take a thorough initial history. Much information about the lower back condition can be obtained through a complete background of the patient’s past and present history. Next, a proper examination should be performed. The doctor or therapist should palpate, or feel the affected area. Most of the time spasm of muscles and tenderness of the area as well as possible inflammation can be felt. Also checking the patient’s range of motion may reveal limited and painful movements. A doctor, such as a chiropractor, will also perform orthopedic tests, and check neurological tests such as reflexes, strength and skin sensation to determine what areas of the spine and pelvis might be the cause of the problem. A chiropractor is also likely to order x-rays to inspect for possible arthritis, past traumas and degenerative joint disease. Finally, the patient should expect the expert they are seeing to take time to explain exactly what is causing the problem and to outline a treatment plan, including what modalities and therapies will be used. A reasonable timeframe and goals should be set to expect and see progress.

Some conditions will resolve in days or weeks. Others may take months. Some conditions may improve greatly but require ongoing supportive or maintenance care to continue benefits and manage the back pain.

Consumer Reports is to be congratulated for studying lower back pain treatments and recommending the approach it boldly endorses.

To learn more about a non-drug approach for treating back pain visit the link. To learn more about Dr James Schofield see his webpage.

Concussion and the Need for Chiropractic Evaluation

With the popular movie Concussion and a Public Broadcasting System documentary of the same topic there is substantial national attention on sports related traumatic brain injury and its consequences.

In the United States the prevalence of mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussion, is estimated at 3.8 million per year. 85% of people sustaining a concussion will have symptoms resolve within 7 to 10 days. The remaining 15%, however will exhibit

Headache From Concussion

persisting symptoms lasting weeks, months or even years after their injury. In those suffering, lingering symptoms persisting longer than 4 to 12 weeks the condition is considered to be chronic and is known as post-concussion syndrome.

Many healthcare professionals consider post-concussion syndrome to be purely an injury isolated to the brain. However, recent research shows that another etiology, other than the brain, may be responsible for ongoing, chronic symptomatology.

Those experiencing mild traumatic brain injury tend to have symptoms of headache, dizziness, neck pain, visual problems, concentration problems, hearing disturbances and emotional irregularities. Not coincidentally, these are also findings that occur with neck injuries, like whiplash, as well.

Injuries to the neck can occur from many types of trauma. The classic whiplash of an automobile accident is one with which many can identify. Of course, sports injuries occurring in football can also cause problems with the neck. But many other sports such as falls occurring in cheerleading, heading a ball in soccer, collisions of players in lacrosse, divers landing awkwardly in a swimming pool and anyone striking their head on a gym floor or playing field can lead to trauma to the neck.

Trauma research has revealed the range of linear impact accelerations causing concussion is between 60-160 G’s of force with the peak occurring at 96 G’s. Whiplash associated traumas can occur at accelerations of only 4.5 G’s. From this it is seen that individuals who experience force is strong enough to sustain a concussion will also experience cervical spine injury. In fact, it seems virtually certain that someone having traumatic force causing a concussion will also suffer injury to the soft tissues of the cervical spine.

In a research study evaluating hockey players suffering trauma published in Brain Injury in 2006 it was noted “there is a strong association between whiplash induced neck injuries and the symptoms of concussion in hockey injuries.” The researchers went on to say that athletes/patients should be evaluated for both traumatic brain injury and cervical/whiplash type trauma.

Current thinking is that those suffering from post-concussion syndrome have most certainly also had injury to the neck or cervical spine. Some are terming it Post-concussion Syndrome and associated Cervicogenic trauma. “Cervicogenic” means “from the neck”.

In another study published in the journal Cephalgia in 1990 researchers evaluated patients who had sustained head trauma and who were still suffering from headaches one year later. These patients entered a clinical course of specific manual therapy of the neck, such as chiropractors utilize, to help headache problems. The results were the group treated with manual therapy showed over 50% improvement of their headache pain index compared with the pretreatment level. The researchers stated: “Manual therapy used in this study seems to have a specific effect in reducing post-traumatic headache.”

Chiropractors have extensive training and experience in evaluating injuries of the neck or cervical spine. If there is an abnormality of misalignment or improper movement of the vertebrae of the spine, strain of the muscles and ligamentous sprain, chiropractors have safe, proven methods to treat these injuries.

A 2015 study in the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine quotes “Management of persistent post- concussion symptoms through ongoing brain rest is outdated and demonstrates limited evidence of effectiveness in these patients.” They add further “instead there is evidence that skilled manual therapy related assessment and rehabilitation of the cervical spine dysfunction should be considered for chronic symptoms following concussion injuries.”

When considering this type of information it would be wise for all patients suffering from post-concussion syndrome to be referred to a chiropractor for cervical spine evaluation and treatment.

Dr. James Schofield has many years of successfully helping people suffering from headaches. To learn more visit his website.

Dr. Schofield Attends Pain Management Methods Seminar

Chronic Pain

On August 19, 2017 Dr. Schofield attended a conference, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, to learn current pain management methods. Topics covered which natural treatments work. In 33 years of practice Dr. Schofield has always searched and used innovative ways to alleviate and control the pain his patients are experiencing.

Chronic pain conditions like lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, sciatica, hip pain and shoulder pain are traditionally not helped by medications. Especially concerning is the increasing use of opioid medications for these types of problems. Fortunately, Dr. Schofield learns and continues to use natural treatment techniques for chronic pain in his Pittsburgh North Hills chiropractic office.

To learn more about Dr. Schofield click here. Visits these sites: sciatica, headaches, hip pain to learn more about natural methods of treatment for these conditions.