I see a lot of disc herniations in the spine, causing pain anywhere from the neck on down, from knee and shoulder pain to severe sciatica and more. Most of these will heal with proper treatment– the full protocol I have developed. When these conditions do not heal as expected I look for the underlying cause. In a significant number of cases there is an autoimmune attack by the patient’s own immune system on the disc itself. So, I put on my functional medicine hat and look for the cause. And this is important because discovering an autoimmune process in a patient and turning it around can literally add years to that patient’s life. For more on autoimmunity, my disc protocol and other topics, see my website. If you or someone you care for would like help solving a disc problem, email me or call my office.

An example is a patient who had multiple complex issues among which were a disc herniation in the lower neck and severe headache which kept coming back. I could improve her condition, but it never fully resolved. We finally figured out that she had mold and mycotoxin exposure in her office. It took some work but when that resolved with proper treatment, her neck issues and headaches finally resolved. The connection is autoimmunity. Mold mycotoxins are known triggers for autoimmunity.

Autoimmunity is a whole body immune process which is named by which tissue is most affected. Arthritis is an autoimmune attack on joints. Type I Diabetes is an autoimmune attack on the part of the pancreas which makes insulin to control blood sugar. Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is an autoimmune attack on the thyroid. All these processes have in common one or more triggers and often several promoting factors. For example, leaky gut and antibodies to gluten is a common trigger for autoimmune thyroid and many other autoimmune conditions. Stress, toxicity, and poor nutrition can all be contributing factors. By understanding which of these factors are causing an autoimmune reaction in your body, we can tone down the immune system reaction and stop the destructive process.

Treating the autoimmune component of disc herniations is important to prevent them from coming back and leading to the degenerative process–thinning of the discs and bone spurs. This eventually wlll lead to spinal stenosis–not a pretty picture. Meanwhile, applying my disc protocol we can relieve the immediate pain.

Alberto Di Martino, Luciano Merlini & Cesare Faldini (2013) Autoimmunity in intervertebral disc herniation: from bench to bedside, Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, 17:12, 1461-1470,

Doita, Minoru, et al. “Immunohistologic study of the ruptured intervertebral disc of the lumbar spine.” Spine 21.2 (1996): 235-241.

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