Guest: Dr. Winifred Bragg
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Winifred Bragg, M.D., FAAPMR, Diplomate, Pain Medicine, author, KnockOutPain® Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back, is an expert in providing non-surgical treatment for injuries and pain resulting from spinal and orthopedic conditions.
Segment overview: In this segment Dr. Winifred Bragg, MD, discusses non surgical pain management for spinal and orthopedic conditions, physical therapy and exercises that can be done at work.
Health Professional Radio – Back Pain Management
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us on the program today. Our guest in studio is returning guest Dr. Winifred Bragg, author of Knockout Pain: Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back and an expert in providing non-surgical treatment for injuries and pain resulting from spinal and orthopedic conditions. She’s been featured on all the major US television networks as well as in Red Book, Women’s World, Self Magazine and she’s here today on Health Professional Radio to talk about non-surgical pain management, also some of the physical therapy and exercises that one can do, some of which you can do while sitting at your desk at work. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Dr. Bragg.
Dr. Winifred Bragg: Thank you Neal.
N: Thank you for returning. You’re the author of a brand new book, Knockout Pain: Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back. Why did you write this book?
B: Well I wrote this book because I wanted to educate people about other options that they can have for back pain other than surgery. Because people seem to think that when you have back pain that your only option if it doesn’t get better quickly is surgery, yet only 5% of people with back pain really should have surgery. My mother developed back pain later in her life and then she was subsequently injured and I had to become her caregiver and while I was taking care of her she say “You said you’re gonna write a book, you need to get to doing it”. So no matter how old you are when your mother puts a foot down, you tend to do it so I did the book and dedicated it to her because she kept me on course as I was her caregiver in getting this book out.
N: Now you weren’t always a doctor nor an expert nor an author. What were you doing prior to med school?
B: I worked as a disability examiner for a couple of years where I would examine people’s files for social security disability and what I found in that job, a lot of young people would apply for disability and they weren’t eligible for it or were not gonna get it and so I went to medical school and chose a specialty, physical medicine rehabilitation where I could help to rehabilitate people, to help them to regain their function back and improve their quality of life so they can go back to work and that’s why I chose my specialty of physical medicine rehabilitation because this is the specialty that focuses on increasing one’s quality of life.
N: Now you did mention most of us, myself being guilty as well of thinking once the back problem started and they persists well surgery is the next step maybe one surgery, maybe a series of surgeries possibly throughout the rest of your life. Sometimes these surgeries don’t alleviate the pain, sometimes they cause more, sometimes they are just plain unnecessary. Now you’re an expert in providing non-surgical treatment for injuries and not necessarily injuries but just pain in general that result from spinal and orthopedic conditions. Talk a little bit about how your philosophy differed from the traditional thinking of surgery being the cure-all?
B: Well this is what I think Neal. If you have a hammer, you see nails don’t you? So a…is a hammer right? So if you come in and you have nail he’s gonna first think about how can I take my hammer to hit that nail and so when you come to me I’m gonna diagnose you just like a surgeon do an examination, we’re gonna may have to get MRIs, x-rays and other diagnostic tools to help us to evaluate you. But my emphasis is gonna be on what we could do to improve your quality of life, decrease your pain and I’m an interventional pain specialist so I can do procedures to help you alleviate pain just as when you do have a herniated disc which is a pinched nerve that a disc pinches your nerve, it causes pain that goes down your leg people call it sciatica, a surgeon will come in and say “Neal let me remove that disc and take the pressure off of the nerve.” Well we know that in time that disc can resolve on its own but what makes people go to surgeons because they have all this pain, they can’t work and they say “Hey, I have to do something now.” So we can do an epidural injection where we take a needle right by your nerve, put some medicine there a steroid, it’s goanna decrease that pain and inflammation while the body takes care of resolving that disc. The best example I can say of that Neal, imagine you have a sponge in the kitchen, you put water on that sponge what does it do? Well because it’s inflamed and that’s what a herniated disc is, it’s inflamed but if you keep that sponge on the sink overtime it dries out and so will a herniated disc overtime – it’ll dry out unless you re-herniate it. So what the epidural injection does is calms down the pain and inflammation while the sponge, that disc is drying out. Well this is a very good option for people to have rather than having surgery to alleviate their back pain from a herniated disc, we can do epidural injection, and that’s what interventional pain specialists can do. Of course there are ways of medications but I want to point out that people need to understand that pain management is not synonymous with getting narcotics. All of my patients that come to me they usually have pain, but we don’t give everyone narcotics because narcotics aren’t for everybody and not all pain responds to narcotics – that’s a thing that people need to understand as well.
N: You were talking about inflammation being a cause of certain conditions but what about degenerative conditions that result from age? Do they normally result in a surgery down the line or can degenerative conditions be slowed or even reversed with some exercise and possibly some nutrition?
B: Well the way I describe there’s something called Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) so imagine you have the bone, the two bones of the back and in between there you have a cushion much like your mattress and overtime that mattress where when we were born is filled with water and there’s real fluidity, the problem the older we get it can dry out but yet there some people have a predisposition to have degenerative changes just familiar from their family. Some people say a golfer a Tiger Woods or someone swinging that golf club so fast and so forceful could put them at an increased risk of having degenerative disc disease at an early age and so what’s important to do that is you can do exercises, we call them ‘Spinal Stabilization Exercises.’ Everyone would benefit from that pretty much Neal and that means strengthening your abdominal and back muscles so that you increase the core and that takes the pressure off your disc and that helps to eliminate some of that degenerative disc. Sometimes people, the pain from degenerative disc, sometimes people can have a back brace to help with degenerative disc disease but I tell you when you do a back brace I want you to use it when you’re doing functional activities, not when you’re sitting, lying down and not all day every day because we want you to use your muscles and there are medications that you can use. Some people use chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine chondroitin sulfate, the FDA hasn’t approved it to say that it helps with rebuilding cartilage but it’s thought to help with rebuilding some cartilage sometimes particularly in the knee when we’re talking about degenerative changes in the knee but you can take anti-inflammatory medications to help with your degenerative disc, bracing and therapy to help.
N: Does your book address the very real possibility of very young people having conditions that mimic those conditions that are traditionally or at least thought to traditionally be found in older people?
B: Well my book does talk about degenerative disc disease can occur as early as in some people as 20 years old and some people just have a premature spine that’s prematurely become degenerative. So my book does talk about that and it can give you strategies and exercises that you can do and the surgical treatment for that before you have it one would do a discogram and they put a needle into your disc Neal, put pressure there and if that disc… and if they do that procedure reproduces the pain you have that lets you know that that disc is painful and that’s when a surgeon can remove that disc and put rods and screws in your back and fuse your back but that’s something you don’t want. A fusion is a major big surgery when you put rods and screws in your back and so the book talks about things that you can do to help with that interventional pain techniques, physical therapy, pain medication and using a semi-rigid braces what I would recommend.
N: Now where can our listeners get a copy of your book, Knockout Pain: Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back?
B: You can get it at amazon.com, you can also go to my website, knockoutpain.com to the book page and there’s a link right there that’ll take you right to Amazon to get a copy of the book. It comes in paperback and in kindle version.
N: What type of reception have you received from other health care professionals when they’ve gotten a hold of your book?
B: Well I’ve gotten good reception from, I have been invited to speak at the National Medical Association…I’d be going to California on Monday to speak there. I’ve spoken to case managers, people who treat, people who have work-related injuries, they’ve invited me to speak and I’ve talked about my book with them. And one will see that on my book I have endorsements from a primary care physician, from physical therapist, from RNs and case managers as well so I’ve gotten great feedback from other health care providers.
N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard and we’ve been in studio talking with Dr. Winifred Bragg, Author of knockout Pain: Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back, she’s an expert in providing non-surgical treatment for injuries and pain resulting from spinal and orthopedic conditions. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you this afternoon Doctor.
B: Thank you so much for having me Neal.
N: Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.