Back in Business: Treating the Degenerating Discs of an Aging Population

Author: Fred Kahn MD, FRCS (C) 
Source: Meditech International Inc.

Back pain is the primary reason older patients come into chiropractic clinics for help. In an aging population, degenerating discus mean that manipulations available toa younger patients are steadily ruled out as time goes by. Laser Therapy can become almost the only alternative that is suitable and safe. In this article, Dr. Guy Pelletier of Brant Chiropractic shares his experience using Laser Therapy on this population group.

back_in_business_1Maybe we should have just stayed in the trees. (As a species, that is.) Because complaints of back pain are as old as walking upright. Yet we’ve never been in a better position to offer relief than we are now. Dr. Guy Pelletier of Brant Chiropractic in Brantford, Ontario agreed to share his experience using the BioFlex system on a specific group: Age 60+ with an existing diagnosis of degenerated discs…

Why did Dr. Pelletier choose this group for controlled observation? Two reasons: Back pain is the primary reason that brings patients into clinics for help. Secondly, in an aging population, degenerating discs mean that manipulations available to younger patients are steadily ruled out as time goes by.

Older patients living with unrelieved pain report a common and discouraging situation to Dr. Pelletier. They’ve been repeatedly told, “You’ll have to live with it” or “You’re getting older and this is part of aging.”

A typical patient has localized lumbosacral pain that radiates into posterior thigh, hip, groin, sometimes as far as the foot. Conditions vary from acute, to chronic, many in excess of 20 years.

back_in_business_2Meditech’s Dr. Fred Kahn confirms Dr. Pelletier’s observations in his paper on Low Intensity Laser Therapy in Clinical Practice. “35% [the largest group] of the patients fall into the category of degenerative osteoarthritis. The majority of these involved the lumbosacral spine and over 60% of these were accompanied by degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, nerve root compression, and/or stenosis of the spinal canal.” In other words, a major pain in the back… and leg.

In treating these patients prior to using BioFlex, Dr. Pelletier found that there was an increased risk of irritating the area after treatment. Patients had difficulty moving around the table, and he had to modify treatments to accommodate this. “Normal” treatments weren’t always possible. Pain was also a factor, and that made treatments unpleasant and patients apprehensive. The consequence of these factors was that treatment results were slow and limited.

Enter BioFlex Low Intensity Laser Therapy. Says Dr.Pelletier, “I observed that my patients could first of all sit comfortably, relax, read a book. The treatments didn’t elicit any pain–the very pain we were working to alleviate. Instead of working with decreased expectations of results, I noticed satisfactory improvement after three or four treatments, sometimes fewer. Another significant improvement was that I could treat multiple areas at one time.


In older patients, laser can become almost the only alternative that is suitable and safe. Older patients do not have to accept living with pain. Laser is – in non-clinical language the pain-buster alternative. Says Dr. Pelletier about his trial group of age 60+ patients: “We’re able to help those who have been suffering and haven’t been able to get help anywhere else.”

The treatments were effective enough that Dr. Pelletier issued a press release to his local newspaper, resulting in a feature article in the Health section. While this doesn’t qualify as hard data, it’s impossible to keep patients from talking to friends about the relief they’ve experienced. Press materials are just the media’s version of word-of-mouth.

How did Dr. Pelletier incorporate laser treatments into his schedule? With one chiropractic room and two laser rooms, he staggers the treatments 40 minutes apart, and can handle 24 treatments comfortably in a day.

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