Allan Blackwell:            Welcome to your 20 Minute Podcast with David Brower, brought to you by Audible. Get a free audiobook download and 30 day free trial at Over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle, or MP3 player. Now, here’s your host, David Brower.

David Brower:              Thanks Allan. This is David Brower with Your 20 Minute Podcast. Our special guest today is Gary Hennerberg from the Dallas Ft. Worth Area, and author of the book Spinal Stenosis and Back Pain Relief Treatments Reviewed. Gary, welcome. Glad to have you on the show today.

Gary Hennerberg:        Thank you for having me today. I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit of wisdom about back pain treatments.

David Brower:              It’s like an everyday conversation with … I mean, it seems like you run into somebody almost every day that is having some kind of back issues. What prompted you to do this huge study and come up with roughly 36 pain relief procedures, and of course, your book?

Gary Hennerberg:        Well, I’m a spinal stenosis sufferer myself. I’ve been dealing with this for a number of years. And spinal stenosis is basically a narrowing in the spinal cord area. And what happens is it starts to put pressure on nerves, and it starts to result in all kinds of things. Some physicians might declare it to be problems with a herniated disc or discs aren’t working, or arthritis. Oftentimes you hear arthritis.

David Brower:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gary Hennerberg:        But the bottom line is that for anybody who deals with this, you’re just pretty much in chronic pain in your back. And it tends to be one of those where it slowly comes on, and you know, you slowly, you start to think, “Well, I’m getting older.”

David Brower:              Right.

Gary Hennerberg:        So therefore, it’s just a part of the aging process. And while that is perhaps true up to a point, the fact of the matter is that this is a condition that hits so many people. And in fact, as I was doing my research as I was writing my book, I found that the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimate that about 8% to 11% of anybody over the age of 50 is suffering with spinal stenosis.

David Brower:              Wow.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. So when you look at the Baby Boomer generation of about 75 million people, it suggests there could be anywhere from six to eight million people, just age 50 plus who are living with spinal stenosis. And by the way, it strikes at any age. I know of a lot of people who deal with this already in their 20s. And it’s just a horrible curse if you have to be living with this for the rest of your life.

David Brower:              It’s genetic too, right?

Gary Hennerberg:        Well, not necessarily.

David Brower:              Okay.

Gary Hennerberg:        It might be for some people. But my father had back pain, but not the kind of pain that I deal with just day in and day out.

David Brower:              Gotcha.

Gary Hennerberg:        You know, pretty much how I look at life anymore is every day is a sort of a, my pain is on a one to ten scale.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        And if I have a day where my pain has only been at about a four or a five, that’s a really good day.

David Brower:              Gotcha.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. And some days it’s in that 7, 8, 9 place.

David Brower:              Yeah. I remember when I had kidney stones a couple of years ago, my pain level was at 15. And they gave me everything imaginable to try to reduce that, you know? And I was, I can’t even tell you all the drugs they tried to get into me. And finally, it started to come down some. And she says, “So what’s your pain level now?” I said, “Ten.” So yeah. And I’ve had lumbar spinal stenosis, so I know firsthand of what you speak. It’s fascinating all the research you’ve done.

Gary Hennerberg:        There’s just, well the research, of course, is just this quest I’ve been on to see if I, see what I can find with-

David Brower:              Right.

Gary Hennerberg:        … to get relief. You know, typically what happens is you go to your doctor, and your doctor is sort of scratching his or her head, and they’re saying, “Well, you got back pain. You’ve got spinal stenosis, and there’s just not much we can do about it.” And they’ll say, “Well why don’t you go try some physical therapy?” Well, physical therapy is great for people who’ve had surgery and need rehabilitation. For me, it didn’t work so well for-

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        … you know, helping with spinal stenosis. Then they’ll say, “Well why don’t you have an epidural steroid injection,” which does give relief. They’re horribly expensive.

David Brower:              Yep.

Gary Hennerberg:        But they, the relief is, depending on the individual, it might be as much as three weeks. It may be six weeks. And at the cost of these things, it’s crazy. And then you can step it up to [inaudible 00:04:38] joint injections, and Rhizotomies, and there’s just so many other things out there. But what happens I think is that there’s a lot of things that doctors, that’s what they know. That’s their wheelhouse.

David Brower:              Sure. Sure. Absolutely.

Gary Hennerberg:        And they can prescribe pain, you know, killers. But who really wants to start taking NSAIDs or opioids-

David Brower:              Right.

Gary Hennerberg:        … or anything like that?

David Brower:              No, that’s right.

Gary Hennerberg:        And then it becomes surgery. Well, what I found over the years is that there are so many other kinds of treatments that just are overlooked out there. And some emerging new treatments as well. There are the standard ones that most everybody will be familiar with, like going to a chiropractor.

David Brower:              Right.

Gary Hennerberg:        Well sure. That makes sense. But when you think about spinal stenosis, and when you don’t have joints, what happens is that you’ve got kinda bone on bone. And so I think, I go to a chiropractor at least once if not twice a week, because I just want everything to be aligned. But it doesn’t always necessarily give relief to something that’s going on in the back.

David Brower:              Sure. Sure.

Gary Hennerberg:        And you know, and there’s massage, and there’s a lot of things. But there are a lot of things people have not heard about. So a couple of examples that I would share. First of all, in kind of the medical arena, is there’s this whole thing called platelet rich plasma regenerative treatments. Now, I had one of those injections a few months ago, and it really helped me tremendously.

David Brower:              I’ll be darned.

Gary Hennerberg:        It’s an injection, but here’s what they do differently, is they will take a blood draw from you. So you go it, they take about a half a cup on blood, just out of your arm. And then they put the blood in a centrifuge and spin it, and they do their magic to it. And what they do is they take the red blood, platelets of your own, and they heavily concentrate it, so up to about 40 times what it is just naturally in your body. And so after doing this for about two, three, four, hours, then you come back in, and the doctor injects it, in this case, injected into my lower back, because that’s where I have my stenosis problems.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        And injected it. It took just 20, 30 minutes. It was extremely painful, because there is no anesthetic. There is no knocking you out, nothing.

David Brower:              Oh my gosh.

Gary Hennerberg:        The needle goes in about two inches.

David Brower:              Oh.

Gary Hennerberg:        And in 9 different spots. It’s very painful. But here’s the thing. It helps. And it’s sort of the cousin of stem cell treatments.

David Brower:              Okay.

Gary Hennerberg:        But the thing is that stem cell treatments tend to work better apparently, this is what I’m told, on people who are say under the age of roughly 40. And if you’re over the age of 40, then stem cells don’t work so well. So they did this instead. So it’s been amazing. And a lot of people haven’t heard about this.

David Brower:              Yeah. I’ve never heard of it.

Gary Hennerberg:        And then there are just some other things out there, a few things that I like to do. I tried acupuncture about, oh, 30 years ago. And I wasn’t, I thought, “Oh come on. What is this?” And I just didn’t feel I got any relief. And then I tried it again, oh, 15 years ago maybe. And I thought. “Well, yeah, okay. I don’t know that it did anything for me.” And finally, several months ago, in fact about a year and a half ago, I guess at this point, I had a friend who said, “Oh, you’ve gotta go see my acupuncture doctor. He is from China. He really is good.” And I thought, “Okay. I am in so much pain I can hardly function.”

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        I said, “I’m no longer gonna take these steroid injections, because they just wonk me out.” So I decided that I would give acupuncture a shot. I thought, I have nothing to lose at this point, right? You know?

David Brower:              Right. That’s right.

Gary Hennerberg:        So I walk in, and he does the exam, and then I have my first 30 minute acupuncture treatment. And I’ll remember getting up thinking, “Well, hmm.” I didn’t expect to be pain free, because that would’ve been totally unreasonable to have expected.

David Brower:              Right.

Gary Hennerberg:        But I thought, “I feel different.” So I decided, okay, I’m gonna commit to acupuncture about four days a week for the next month or two, and then three days a week, and so on and so forth, down to about once a week.

David Brower:              Sure.

Gary Hennerberg:        Which is what I’ve been doing now. And I find that acupuncture has given me a tremendous amount of relief. Now, it doesn’t fix it. Nothing fixes it. It just helps you manage it. So that’s another one.

David Brower:              And when you’re in that much pain for that long, I mean, that’s really the quest, isn’t it, to figure out a way to manage it?

Gary Hennerberg:        Yes. That is it. Management is probably the best you can hope for. In American culture, I’ve learned this because I’m around my Chinese doctor a lot. In American culture, Americans, we want things fixed.

David Brower:              Right. Immediately.

Gary Hennerberg:        And … Immediately. Oh my goodness, yes. And that’s the reason we will say, “Yes. I want surgery. I’ll have all these things done,” even though they’re not a long term solution really.

David Brower:              Right.

Gary Hennerberg:        And I’ve had surgery. I have screws and rods in my back from surgery back in 2010, because I was in so much pain.

David Brower:              Damn.

Gary Hennerberg:        And it helped me, by the way, for about five years, and then it just wore off again. In about 2015, it all came roaring back because just above and below where I had the surgery is where it came.

David Brower:              Gotcha.

Gary Hennerberg:        You know. And so this is … But there’s so many things out there that people are not aware of. Another one I’m gonna share with you and your listeners, this one, I woke up … I had read an article in the newspaper about it, and forgot about it. Then one morning, I woke up and said, “Cryotherapy.” Are you familiar with cryotherapy, David?

David Brower:              I’m not. I saw that on your list. I was gonna ask you about that, and I was also gonna ask you about Rhizotomy, is that how you say that?

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah, the rhizotomy? Yeah. Yeah. So I’ll take-

David Brower:              I don’t know about either one of those.

Gary Hennerberg:        Okay. So I’ll tell you about cryotherapy first. Yeah. Cryotherapy is deep freezing, okay? So what you do is there is this cylinder for lack of a better word. It’s upright, that you go and you stand in. Now, you have to be completely undressed for it because what happens is they blow this cold nitrogen air around you. And the temperature drops to about a minus 270 degrees.

David Brower:              Hello.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. It’s a wakeup call. And you’re in it-

David Brower:              Is that when you put me in the spaceship and send me to Mars?

Gary Hennerberg:        Yes it is. Yes it is. So anyway, you go into this. This is for about three minutes, two and a half, maybe three minutes. And it’s of course, so intensely cold that it shrinks the swelling in your back, and then it just … And if you want, you can have a spa treatment on at the place I go to. And it’s very inexpensive. It’s like $15.

David Brower:              Oh my gosh.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. I do that like once a week. And sometimes more. And there are other benefits that are claimed for cryotherapy. They say it burns about 1,000 calories, because your body just goes into this immediate reaction with that kind of depth of cold temperatures.

David Brower:              Wow. Could be my new weight loss program.

Gary Hennerberg:        Well … I have to be honest. It hasn’t exactly worked for me. So that is, on the weight loss. But I do feel it’s really, really helped me on my back.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        So I do like that one. But you asked about the Rhizotomy.

David Brower:              Yeah, the rhizotomy. I’d never heard of that before.

Gary Hennerberg:        So that’s another medical procedure. And the procedure is basically that you go in, and they burn the ends of the nerves off in your back.

David Brower:              Oh.

Gary Hennerberg:        And it’s an extremely expensive procedure. The insurance on that one … The insurance … Pardon me. The procedure, the center and the doctor bill combined were over $14,000.

David Brower:              Oh my God.

Gary Hennerberg:        Insurance said that they could only charge $7,000. So you start doing the math, and if you’re like me, I have an extremely high deductible. I have a $5,000 deductible on my health insurance, like most people do these days.

David Brower:              Yep.

Gary Hennerberg:        And so, you know-

David Brower:              We have a ten.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. I mean, you hear that all the time.

David Brower:              It’s unbelievable.

Gary Hennerberg:        It’s ridiculous. And so anyway, yeah, that’s the procedure. And the procedure takes, oh, three minutes. It’s typical of a-

David Brower:              Wow.

Gary Hennerberg:        But here’s the thing. I did it, and it really, really helped me. I’m telling you, it really helped me. And so what was supposed to last form anywhere from three to six months lasted about six weeks.

David Brower:              Oh no. That’s like an epidural shot.

Gary Hennerberg:        Oh yeah. It just, it was, but more expensive version of it.

David Brower:              Exactly. Exactly.

Gary Hennerberg:        And insurance, in this case, said, “Well you can only have two of these a year. You know.

David Brower:              Please.

Gary Hennerberg:        So you get into this whole problem with insurance, and you know, and just the whole system.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        And that’s part of the reason that I’ve really just become such an advocate of looking for alternatives. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to your physician. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try physical therapy, or rhizotomy, or a steroid injection, or any of these things, because you probably should try some of those things.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        But I believe that everybody’s gotta go into this wide open and realize that if you’re going to do something like a rhizotomy, it’s probably pretty likely that your out of pocket expense is going to be completely what your deductible is plus some.

David Brower:              Plus, plus. Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. You know, and so, if you are in a financial position to be able to do that, that is your personal choice. But at the same time, if you are able to go try cryotherapy for $15.

David Brower:              Hello. Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. And where I go, you buy a package of 100, or 10 of them for $150. But that’s also unlimited for a month if you want to do it that way.

David Brower:              Okay.

Gary Hennerberg:        I went every day for two months, and it really shrunk everything down. And so kinda the bottom line is I went through this transition of things. I started in September of, what year was it, 2016 I guess is when it was. Yeah. 2016 is when I just gave up on the whole medical thing and said I’m gonna do all these alternatives. And it took me, after six months, I feel I had really made substantial progress.

David Brower:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gary Hennerberg:        And after, gosh, it was about 9 months, I started going back and doing aqua aerobics.

David Brower:              Done that. Yep.

Gary Hennerberg:        You know, and I can do that. I could not have done that in the months prior to.

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        And so I’m actually able to do a lot of those things these days. And while I am not pain free, my pain, where I used to, where I talked a few minutes ago about, you know, some days were 7, 8, 9, or in your case, 15.

David Brower:              Right. Sure.

Gary Hennerberg:        You know. I’ve been able to take most of my days down to probably a four or a five.

David Brower:              That’s dramatic.

Gary Hennerberg:        It’s dramatic. It’s just really, really dramatic. And I just wish so many people would get this message. And you know, I follow a couple of groups on Facebook that are dedicated to people with spinal stenosis. And I read what people are posting, and they’re trying this drug, and they’re trying this thing. And I just feel for them, because I know everybody’s desperate to get-

David Brower:              Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        And that’s what happened to me in 2010, when I had spinal fusion surgery. I was so desperate that I shut off all of my thinking, and said, “Let’s just have surgery. Let’s just have surgery.”

David Brower:              Sure.

Gary Hennerberg:        Because American culture is “Go get it fixed.” You know?

David Brower:              Right. Right. We’ve only got about a couple minutes left.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah.

David Brower:              So I wanna make sure people are aware of how to find this book, the website that it’s on, that it’s available on Amazon. So plug the daylights out of this book, because I mean, just looking at the list of 36 different treatment opportunities, I mean, there’s a lot of those that people could just go, “Okay, I’m gonna try that.” And then, and that, and that, and that, and that, and not spend a lot of money. And kind of work their way through some things to try to figure out what can help them.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. So this is where you can go. It’s on Amazon. It’s a digital download for right now. I might turn it into a printed copy, but right now, it’s easier. It’s $8.95.

David Brower:              Oh my gosh.

Gary Hennerberg:        It’s not even 25 cents per-

David Brower:              Per treatment. Yeah.

Gary Hennerberg:        Per treatment recommendation that I’ve outlined, right? So it’s on Amazon. You can search for it under the name of spinal stenosis treatment options. Spinal stenosis. You’ll find it. Or the website, which has a link then to Amazon, is I tried to make it real simple. Pain-

David Brower:              Yeah. That’s what I went to and it just takes you right to everything very, very quickly.

Gary Hennerberg:        Yeah. So the best thing really for all of your listeners is just go to Follow along.

David Brower:              Sure.

Gary Hennerberg:        You’ll get to Amazon. You can, literally, you can have it in your online, you know, your digital reader in seconds. And it’s a short read. It’s just real simple. It’s matter of fact. I describe each of the treatments. I give you my personal perspective on it. I outline the costs-

David Brower:              Nice.

Gary Hennerberg:        … for each of these, and then my recommendation, if I would do it again, or what. So-

David Brower:              Well it’s more like a handbook.

Gary Hennerberg:        It is. It really kind of is.

David Brower:              A handbook, a reference book, where you can, “Okay, let me, he wrote about this. Let me check that out.” It’s fascinating. The layout is absolutely perfect for people to check out.

Gary Hennerberg:        Tried to keep it simple.

David Brower:              Yeah. No doubt. Hey Gary, thank you so much. This has been a real treat learning about stenosis back treatments. 26 different options. And folks go to Painrelieflist. Is it singular?

Gary Hennerberg:        Yes.

David Brower:              Okay. and that’ll take you to where you need to go.

David Brower:              Gary, it’s been a real pleasure, man. Continued success and continued success on getting back down in that 2, 3, 4 range for an extended period of time.

Gary Hennerberg:        And I hope that for everybody that has pain relief, that they find their way.

David Brower:              You got it. Thank you, Gary.

Gary Hennerberg:        Alright, thank you.

Allan Blackwell:            Your 20 Minute Podcast with David Brower has been brought to you by Audible. You can listen to any of David’s podcasts anywhere podcasts can be found including I Heart Radio, the Spotify mobile app, and at Until next time, thanks for listening.