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Dr. Mark N. Berry, D.C. Dr. Mark N. Berry, D.C.

When we have a tour of the premises of the American Spinal Clinic in Sofia, we cannot help but notice how relaxed the patients are. As if they are not getting treatment for serious and painful conditions like herniated disc and even scoliosis, but are enjoying a massage or a luxurious physical therapy.

The American Spinal Clinic brings to Bulgaria chiropractics, an approach in treatment of spinal conditions, that is coupled with advanced technology in diagnosis and treatment, including a method developed by NASA.

Complex approach to treatment of all components of the spine is crucial for the success of the treatment here, explains one of the experienced practitioners in the clinic, Dr. Mark N. Berry, D.C. He has a major in medical studies in the university of Alabama and he earned his Doctorate of Chiropractic Degree at Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas. He came to Bulgaria after years of successful practice in the US, and specialises in non-surgical scoliosis reduction, and structural correction of spinal conditions and disc disorders.

What is chiropractics?

To explain chiropractics, one should first explain the nervous system. It controls and coordinates every cell, every tissue, every organ in the body, and is surrounded and protected by the spinal column. The spinal column is composed of 24 moveable bones, and its normal shape is a straight line from the front view and three curves from the side view. The proper function of the spine and the nervous system is very important for the health and wellbeing of any human. If the spine is not properly aligned, it can hinder the system, interfere with the nervous system and cause all types of complications, from pain to serious conditions. As a chiropractor my job is to try to correct the spine, to upend its position so that the nervous system can function properly and the body can do what it is supposed to do.

How do you in American Spinal Clinic achieve this?

We apply a combination of innovative practices that aim to heal the spine as a complete system: muscles, ligaments, disc, bones, nerves. Gravity is the major force afflicting the spine, and when the spine has lost its normal position, the gravitational load doesn't distribute evenly among its parts. This changes the system, often with dangerous results like disfunction. Physical stresses that we experience throughout our lives also affect the spine. These are the acute ones, like falls, traumas, and accidents, and quiet ones that are caused by prolonged sitting, standing, and, increasingly today, looking at our phones.

When the load is not distributed symmetrically on the spine, more pressure is put on different areas, eventually it starts breaking down the spinal structure. The body tries to adapt, tightening its tissues. This combination of stresses, gravity load, tight tissues and abnormal spine position leads to limited motion in the spinal joints and conditions like protrusions, herniation, tears and more.

American Spinal ClinicIn American Spinal Clinic we apply three-step system to improve this.

The first step is the flexibility and hydration procedures, a set of specifically designed therapies whose aim is to decrease tight tissues, restore the nutrition of the discs and increase spinal flexibility and motion. This step takes about 40-45 minutes, and results in the spine being more flexible and prepared for the second component of treatment, the realignment procedure. This procedure corrects the spine's alignment and is based on a X-ray analysis of 41 measurements and 23 angles compared to a mathematical model. The third step is the strengthening and re-education procedure, which aims to help the patient to hold the new spine alignment and its new position. Our in-clinic treatment programme is combined with a home-rehabilitation system based on the individual patient's needs. It's role is to speed up the improvement and to teach the patient to take care of his spine.

Taking care of your spine's health is like taking care of your teeth's health: perseverance is needed.

Many patients complain of 'back pain,' but there is no such diagnosis. Back pain is a symptom, as all other pains are. In order to understand what causes it and to rehabilitate the whole system, we in American Spinal Clinic have developed an intricate and detailed diagnostic process. When our patients get here, they go though a consultation. During it, we go through the chief complaint, and then through other health problems that patients are experiencing. Then we perform an examination of the functionality of the system, in order to understand how this particular spine works, how it moves. The next step is the structural assessment, when the patient is X-rayed and his posture is analysed. This helps us to get the overall structure, function and symptoms of the patient. Only when we study the case and determine the cause of the problems, only then we develop a unique treatment for the problem.

American Spinal Clinic

American Spinal Clinic applies some innovative approaches in X-rays diagnosis. How are they different?

At the clinic we perform the innovative sitting X-rays, which provides 35 percent more load on the spine as compared to standing X-rays, and 50 percent more than when the patient is lying down. Why it is important? When we want to see how the spine reacts to gravitational load, we need to test it. Standing gives a lot more information, but modern people spend a lot more time sitting rather than standing. Sitting is the natural environment for spine today, so we need to see and study how the spine of each patient behaves in it. We want to see the spine with more load on the structure in order to see which of its parts fail. This unique approach provides us with a better way to find out what is truly driving spine conditions.

In our X-ray analysis, we compare the patient's results to a mathematical model that shows what drives disc deformation, why are spikes or other changes developing, why are bones sliding, thus damaging the ligaments.

When we figure out what's causing the problem, we try to develop the best recovery plan.

How come that one of American Spinal Clinic's treatments is using NASA technology?

This is our decompression technology. We apply it in treatment of spinal disc herniation, a condition in which the nucleus pulposus, or the inner part of the invertebrate disc, has 'leaked' due to damage. The condition is usually treated with a surgical removal of the excess nucleus pulposus, but although it relieves symptoms like pain, it doesn't treat the cause of the condition.

In American Spinal Clinic we apply nonsurgical approach, using the NASA-developed decompression technology. We apply pressure on the disc at certain angles to pinpoint actual distraction of the disc, thus shifting the initial pressure. A computer tracks the spine's reaction in real time, adjusting the pressure to the point when it is at most effective. When the disc is distracted properly, it creates negative pressure on the inside, just like a syringe, forcing the nucleus pulposus to retract back inside the disc. Decompressure is an important tool for treatment of major herniations.

American Spinal Clinic

How long does treatment in American Spinal Clinic take?

A very common plan takes about 10 weeks of in-clinic treatment. After a month of three treatments per week, we perform complete re-evaluation to track our progress. It includes subjective evaluation of the patient's symptoms, as well as functional and structural assessment. These three parameters consist the most important thing: quality of life, the goal of our treatment.

After re-evaluation, visits at clinic shift to two per week in the span of six weeks. Then we have another re-evaluation. In his spare time, the patient is going through a rehabilitation programme to maintain the results. This is the most important part of the process. Taking care of a healthy spine is not a treatment with a beginning and an end. It is a life journey.

How can we recognise that our spine needs professional help?

Common conditions like headaches, neck pain, mid-back pain, low-back pain, pain in the arms or the legs, numbness, weakness all indicate that something is going wrong. Symptoms are the body's alarm system urging you to act. But remember that, for example, about 80 percent of people suffering from spinal disc herniation don't show any symptoms until they, suddenly, are unable to move. Often, the patient thinks that a particular activity: playing with his kids or trying to put on his shoes, has provoke the condition. But no, it is the result of a long period during which the spine has been weakened and then a moment came when it couldn't cope anymore.

What is your approach to scoliosis?

Scoliosis, which is severe damage of the spine's curvature, is a condition for life, and is very difficult to treat. We try to teach such patients how to reduce it and how to manage it. We apply non-surgical, non-invasive and non-bracing approach to scoliosis cases, and we see that some of our patients experience 30-40 percent improvement. We work with children with the condition, our youngest patient is 14 years old.

American Spinal Clinic

Can you share with us an interesting case you have had at American Spinal Clinic?

We recently re-evaluated a 72-year-old lady. When she sought help from us, she could barely walk due a severely damaged disc. She was unstable, and this is dangerous for elderly people as any fracture can be fatal for them. Now, after our treatment, this lady is walking again. She has her life back and she is extremely happy.

This is the good thing in our job, to see people regaining their lives.

Sofia, 76-A James Bourchier Blvd

Call +359 2 492 5958 for a free consultation

American Spinal Clinic

Read 2431 times Last modified on Monday, 03 October 2016 11:48

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