One of the wonderful things about modern media is that everything suddenly becomes black and white. Diagnosis isn’t a probability, it’s a certainty. So when they say Dwight Howard has a herniated disc, it’s certain. How do they know? Well, he either had a CT scan, which is 83% accurate, or an MRI which is 88% accurate. Then he had a physical assessment, which is pretty inaccurate. Let’s assume he had an MRI and it showed that he just blew chunks of his disc everywhere.
What now? Surgery, of course. But wait. What are the long term outcomes for surgery? Up to two years afterward, pain is lessened in the area, but we have no studies showing whether or not the discs above and below will be more prone to blow out. And if he has sciatic pain, surgery doesn’t necessarily help him more than conservative treatment, especially after two years.
So what else could he do? Strangely enough, ozone therapy is showing positive results similar to surgery. I’m not a fan of ozone myself, but if he’s looking at going under the knife, then it’s worth a second look.
Stretching and gentle manipulation may help, depending on the level of his pain. I know, not my first choice to start moving around a busted disc, but the data on manipulation again parallels the surgical outcomes.
For many of the surgical techniques being used, no one has bothered doing any studies to test their effectiveness. So depending on his surgeon, he could end up with a technique that isn’t very effective. Then he’s out one disc, still in pain, and has to start over again.
For many patients with herniated discs the body manages to downgrade the herniation on its own. It doesn’t resolve the pain, but stabilizes the joint. But we have no head-to-head trials that would let us know the long term outcomes of not doing surgery on his back.
It’s disturbing that so much information is missing about something so common.
- Dwight Howard Has Herniated Disc, Season in Jeopardy (slamonline.com)
- Howard to miss Cleveland game with herniated disc (tsn.ca)
- Dwight Howard has a herniated disc in back (cbssports.com)
- Report: Dwight Howard to rest back, reevaluate after 2 weeks (aol.sportingnews.com)
- Dwight (lower back) to miss Sunday game vs. Cavs (nba.com)
- PBT: Magic’s Howard has herniated disc in back (probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Dwight Howard Out Indefinitely With Herniated Disk (inquisitr.com)
- Magic’s Howard Sidelined With Back Injury (abcnews.go.com)
- Free Herniated Disc and Sciatica Seminar in NYC (prweb.com)
- Flyers: Andrej Meszaros To Have Surgery On Herniated Disc (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Magic say Howard has herniated disk in back (espn.go.com)
- Dwight Howard Expected to Miss Time with Herniated Disk (bleacherreport.com)
- Dwight Howard Drama Heats Up (newsy.com)