Interviewer [00:08]: Welcome to the Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner. Hi, and welcome.

Dr. Ward Wagner [00:13]: Thank you. 

Interviewer [00:14]: So today we are talking about decompression and laser therapy, which is one of my favorite topics. We’ve talked about this before but this is so interesting to me.

Dr. Ward Wagner [00:23]: Yes, that’s exactly what I want to focus on today. It’s such an important topic because when we’re combining decompression and laser therapy, we’re mostly talking about spine issues.

Interviewer [00:37]: Which many, many of our listeners have, either do have a spine issue or know someone that does. I’d like to start today though, with talking about you because I think your background is very important to our listeners. And why don’t we take a few minutes and find out what it is why you decided to treat pain and what brought you to this point?

Dr. Ward Wagner [00:58]: Well, most of my pain experience is my own. Prior to and during chiropractic school, when I was playing rugby, and football, and other sports activities, I had my share of injuries. And it was chiropractic that made the biggest difference for me in a couple of those injuries. I’ve had the kind of pain and some people out there will know what I’m talking about. People who’ve never had really severe back pain they don’t understand it. And so when I had my first experience with a chiropractor, it was one of those kinds of back pains where it took me about 10 minutes to even get out of bed. And I don’t really consider myself a baby.

I’ve had lots of things in my life but it was so debilitating, so severe any movement, you know, you really learn firsthand when you have that kind of pain, how everything is connected to your core. But anyway, couldn’t put on my shoes just had to slip my feet into some sandals, with my wife’s help got into the car, went to the chiropractor walked out of his office, I believe it was 14 minutes later, 90% better. I was blown away. And that was part of what led my decision-making into going into chiropractic.

Interviewer [02:16]: Well, it seems to me that many doctors and people tend to just say take a pill. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [02:22]: Right. 

Interviewer [02:23]: And that’s not your way of thinking,

Dr. Ward Wagner [02:26]: Well, not anymore. I was kind of raised that way. You know, everything was a pill when I was growing up. 

Interviewer [02:31]: Aspirin.

Dr. Ward Wagner [02:31]: Yeah, aspirin was the biggie in those days. For my own learning and progress in pain management, health care, very much a lot of my experience and my wife’s experience. Now, my wife, her situation is unique. For about 15 years, it seems that she had a target on her car. She has been hit eight times, T boned, rear ends, people reversing into her…

Interviewer [03:02]: Not her fault?

Dr. Ward Wagner [03:02]: Right, none of them her fault. Thank, you know, knock on wood, [inaudible03:07]. I mean, she’s such a cautious driver and even more cautious now that she’s been hit so many times but her experience with chiropractic was phenomenal initially. But by the eighth accident when her neck is now so unstable because of all the ligament overstretch, the whiplashes the things like that she can’t tolerate having adjustments anymore. And so that also has helped me understand and look for other modalities that are much more effective than just your basic chiropractic care.

Interviewer[03:44]: So what alternatives have you found then?

Dr. Ward Wagner [03:47]: Well, the ones we’re talking about, there’s so many. Decompression and laser are phenomenal because when somebody has and I’m kind of letting the cat out of the bag, we’re going to talk a little bit about bulging and herniated discs but when people have more serious conditions like that, chiropractic isn’t very often the best answer. Because it can be an aggravation to a disk and then there’s ozone therapy. There’s our typical other therapies that are gentle, more passive, like ultrasound, massage therapy, electrical muscle stem, however, today we’re going to be focusing more on things that are specific to the decompression and laser.

Interviewer [04:32]: You’re listening to the Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner. And let me tell you, you may want to head on over to your website, Dr. Wagner, it’s great. It’s at It’s a very user-friendly site and get more information Dr. Wagner’s background is on there and some really good videos that also support what he does and great information. Try that.

Dr. Ward Wagner [04:57]: Yeah, great idea because we have so many videos on there that are so specific to so many people’s conditions. Many pain issues we’ve already treated. We’ve got a lot of experience with that. So you can usually find something that correlates with what you’ve got.

Interviewer[05:15]: So we’ve talked about this before decompression and laser therapy. Let’s talk about it.

Dr. Ward Wagner [05:20]: Right. So, spinal decompression is a therapy that’s a process of creating a vacuum phenomenon within a disc. And it’s in order to allow the disc to return to its original position, so to speak. The technical name for this vacuum phenomenon is imbibition, which is, and that’s two Bs imbibition. It’s a medical term for pulling fluid in and actually things like roots of plants, they pull fluid out of the earth, and that’s imbibition as well. Well, discs do that too spinal discs, which are the cushions between your bones, they also go through this process on a daily basis. We go out weight-bearing every day, we get up out of bed, we go weight-bearing, and we go about our activities, and water tends to be compressed out of the disk. And then when we lay down at night, then there’s a certain amount of that flow and then will come back in.

Interviewer [06:10]: That evens out?

Dr. Ward Wagner [06:21]: Yeah, it’s almost like a sponge. You know you put pressure on a sponge, you’re squeezing everything out, you relax the pressure and things suck in. So, spinal decompression is that similar kind of process that imbibition.

Interviewer [06:38]: So what kinds of spinal conditions do you use for the decompression therapy? What is that?

Dr. Ward Wagner [06:44]: So, bulging discs, herniated discs, prolapsed discs, disc protrusions. Now, when you see an MRI report, you’ll see all of these words. And these are all fairly synonymous. But the lower end of the spectrum when you’re talking about disc bulging, you know, the old term, an old phrase that people use is slipped disc. And slipped disc typically means any one of these, it’s just kind of a phrase that doesn’t have a lot of meaning in the medical world, but still kind of thrown around freely. But bulging disc is on the lower end of the spectrum. And then disc protrusion is higher on the spectrum. And what that means is a disc bulge can just simply be inflammation in the disc.

Interviewer [07:39]: And not necessarily an accident, no skiing or car crash or they can just be, right?

Dr. Ward Wagner [07:45]: Right. They come on from daily activities they can begin with some aggravation, which then doesn’t really heal, where the disk swells, that kind of thing. 

Interviewer [07:55]:Maturity.

Dr. Ward Wagner [07:56]: And maturity, I like that word. Most of my audience likes that word better than the other word.

Interviewer [08:02]: But just being in sports, as you grow up, and all of this stuff that we do through our lifetime, eventually, people do get back pain, not necessarily from an accident.

Dr. Ward Wagner [08:12]: They do. They do and posture has a lot to do with it, the way you sit, how long you sit, these kinds of things. I’m always encouraging my patients who love to sit at their computer, a lot of time during the day, it’s get up frequently get up and move do something. Try not to be as sedentary as we tend to be when we are retired or on our weekends or whatever the case may be.

Interviewer [08:37]:Right. Which just makes sense so how does someone know if they do have a disc bulge or herniation? Do they have to go and get the MRI?

Dr. Ward Wagner [08:46]: So that’s the interesting thing. I have so many patients that come in and they can’t tell they have a disc bulge. In fact, in most cases in the early stages when it’s just a bulge and it hasn’t progressed to like a protrusion or something like that, typically, when they come in, they will feel like they’ve just got a stiff sore back. And that’ll be the kind of their explanation. It’s just really stiff and sore. I think it’s a muscle thing. 

Interviewer [09:13]: I slept wrong. Right.

Dr. Ward Wagner [09:14]: Yeah. But it’s one of those things that just won’t really improve. It won’t really get better over time. But they come in and they tell me, I think it’s stiff. It just feels like it needs to be cracked. And whenever I get a low back, especially one that’s chronic, and especially if they’ve been to other chiropractors already and it hasn’t helped then I go through my disc screening. And there’s certain movement patterns and things like that that we will do, which I’ll probably talk about in just a minute, but I’m able to very closely identify what kind of disc condition they have if they have one at all.

Interviewer [09:58]: You’re listening to the Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner, of Dixie Chiropractic.  The number to call is 673-1443. You can also go to their website at And Dr. Wagner for our listeners, you usually offer something special. What have you got today?

Dr. Ward Wagner [10:19]: Okay, so it’s going to be a $99 initial examination, and included with that we’ll do two decompression and laser treatments. And as well, you get a free one-hour massage with that.

Interviewer[10:34]: So that seems like a very long session. Can they keep that message for another time? Is that all on the same day?

Dr. Ward Wagner [10:41]: Right. In fact, we prefer we don’t do the massage on the first two visits because we only want to do one thing at a time and so they can use it whenever they want. They do not have to use it right away.

Interviewer [10:55]: Okay, the Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner he’s offering a $99 initial exam and consult with two free decompression and laser treatments along with that, and a one hour massage. That’s a fabulous offer especially if you’ve got a bad back. Now let’s go back to disc bulges and herniations. How does someone know if they really have that? I mean, we talked about that a few minutes ago. But will you be able to decide or?

Dr. Ward Wagner [11:23]: Oh, yeah, so it’s funny, like I mentioned before most people come in and they’ll say I just feel like my back needs to be pop. Now the reason for that is when you have inflammation in a joint, the body is telling you that pressure needs to be relieved. And so the feeling is that if you crack this, it’s going to feel better, and especially for those who have been cracked in the past and it has felt better. That’s kind of becomes our answer for everything.

Interviewer [11:56]: I see people pop their neck and whoop gives me goosebumps. But yes, 

Dr. Ward Wagner [11:59]: Exactly. 

Interviewer [12:00]: That’s what they think they need. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [12:01]: That exact same kind of thing. And one of the most common stories that I’ll get is someone who has been in pain for a year. And they’ll come in and their story will be, you know, I’ve been going to a chiropractor for years, and I really love them. However, for the last year, sometimes it helps a little, sometimes it hurts. But all in all, I’m just not getting any better. But they still feel like they need to be cracked. And so they come in and whenever they tell me that story, then I immediately go right into my disc screening process. And about nine out of 10 of those, it does turn out that they do have a disc bulge or herniation that’s been nagging and progressing over time.

Interviewer [12:44]: So your staff tells me that you’re a walking MRI machine. What does that mean?

Dr. Ward Wagner [12:48]: Well, okay, so all these years in practice, and with the spine being the mainstay of my practice, more than half about 70% of everything I see is spine related. And over the years of my training and certifications in spine work, I’ve come up with movement patterns and an exam or screening process that I do to determine disc bulges and herniations. So typically, I can tell people where the level of their spine problem is, you know if they have a bulge or not, and which side it’s on that sort of thing. And so, to be able to tell the number one thing is typically and everything in medicine is typical there’s never always and never it’s mostly this. Well anyway, so typically, someone who’s got a disc problem will wake up feeling pretty good in the morning,

Interviewer [13:56]: Because they’ve been…

Dr. Ward Wagner [13:57]: Because they’ve been [inaudible 13:57]

Interviewer [13:58]: Lying down and… 

Dr. Ward Wagner [13:58]:[inaudible 13:58] weight. Yeah.

Interviewer[13:59]:Right, understood.

Dr. Ward Wagner [13:59]: Yeah. And so that imbibition has occurred naturally during the evening. But as the day goes on, it worsens. So that’s like the first classic thing. So their history that I take from them is important. And then it’s the small little nuances. If bending backward, if someone can’t even bend five degrees, and there’s some discomfort in their back, that is more typically going to be disc backward extension. Typically, again, more often than not, another sign is people who really get sore when they’re standing at the sink and they’re just bending forward slightly doing dishes some slightly, even brushing their teeth or washing their face. They have this slight forward bend in their back and it becomes more and more painful the longer in that position. Typically that’s going to be a disc issue, especially when you couple it with, feels better in the morning.

Interviewer [15:00]: So better to get someone else to do your dishes for you. I’ve got the solution. 

Dr. Ward Wagner [15:08]: Well, there is, maybe we ought to fix the disc, and then you can still…

Interviewer [15:11]: Do your own dishes. Well, boy, when you start talking about things like brushing your teeth, yeah, that leaning over, you know, you really do feel certain aches and pains.

Dr. Ward Wagner [15:22]: Yeah, many times it’s those small, little nuances. Because again, to somebody who doesn’t have the training that I have, that doesn’t understand the anatomy, they’ll just think that’s muscle soreness. That’s just, you know, but when you combine all of these things with my screening, when people come in, I explain every bit of my examination of my screening process to them, and show them exactly what’s been happening, of course, once I figure it out. And people are always surprised. The reaction is always the same, it’s like, wow, I’ve been to so many doctors and I’ve never heard it put this way. I’ve never seen what’s really going on.

Interviewer [16:00]: My whole family has come to you and you have solved our issues. So I understand, yeah, and you’ve got a wonderful office. Let’s start with that therapeutic laser because we’ve talked about this before. Can you explain to our listeners, what is laser therapy because that’s a biggie?

Dr. Ward Wagner [16:17]: So laser therapy is I use it always in combination with decompression therapy when I’m treating bulging and herniated discs. So laser is a condensed beam of light. In this case, the main component is the infrared light. And when you take infrared light, and you condense it, to where it’s a concentrated enough beam, that will penetrate deep into tissues as it touches cells and tissues in the body, it ramps up all the cell regenerators. So things like ATP, prostaglandins, fibroblastic activity a lot of you listening may remember this from high school biology class, but these things are your cell regenerators increasing metabolic activity so that cells regenerate quickly.

Interviewer [17:10]:Interesting. So it’s not when we’ve talked about this, I always think of laser as Star Wars. It’s not like that?

Dr. Ward Wagner [17:16]: Right. No, this is a total healing laser. And it feels really, really good. Everybody loves the way the laser feels, all you feel is some warmth. It’s pretty amazing to most people, as soon as we turn it on, it’s kind of a wow, that’s immediately warm. It’s not like just kind of like getting like a heat lamp.

Interviewer [17:36]: Like a heating pad.

Dr. Ward Wagner [17:37]: Yeah. Or a heating pad where you just kind of feel this subtle warmth. As soon as we turn that thing on, you feel not only the warmth, but you feel this deepness to it into your body, and it’s just amazing.

Interviewer [17:49]: So what conditions do you primarily use the laser for?

Dr. Ward Wagner [17:54]: So aside from the bulging and herniated disc, we also use it for all muscle and ligament and tendon injuries. Some of the most classic conditions we use it for aside from spine-related issues are rotator cuffs, tennis elbows, and plantar fasciitis. 

Interviewer [18:14]: Isn’t that interesting? Because you automatically in my mind, I think chiropractic and spine but you do so much more than that.

Dr. Ward Wagner [18:21]: We do. I tell everybody, it’s basically everything musculoskeletal. So from head to toe, everything that has to do with joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, that’s what we deal with. And of course, bones. 

Interviewer [18:36]: So what made you decide to start using therapeutic laser in your office? Because that’s not, in my mind, I don’t think of chiropractic that way. But you have so many alternatives.

Dr. Ward Wagner [18:47]: Right. So years ago, when I started really delving into learning disc because disc for most practitioners is a very evasive and elusive condition that’s hard to identify. And so I put a lot of time into studying this. And we started into the decompression therapy first by itself. And I was getting tremendous results but it would take longer. We were typically somewhere between 20 and 30 treatments to fix a disc even higher sometimes and it wasn’t uncommon to go over 30 treatments to fix a disc. Well, I started hearing about this laser therapy and I was skeptical. I’m always skeptical when I hear of new things because there are so many new things coming out all the time. 

But determining what their effectiveness really is, you can’t just rely on a salesman’s word you’ve got to practice with it. And so over time, it took me about oh four years to finally decide to try laser and use it and when I finally did, it was phenomenal. We immediately started seeing our averages in treatment cut in half. And so typically, we’re between oh, 12, and 20 treatments of decompression laser to fix a bulging or herniated disc.

Interviewer20:13]: Which is sure an alternative to just cutting in, right. I mean, surgery is just scary.

Dr. Ward Wagner [20:19]: It is. It’s scary, but most people are scared of surgery primarily because they’re afraid of what’s happening while they’re on the operating table. I tell you surgeons are skilled. Typically, surgeons, they do their job and they do it well. But the problem is the body will then respond with scar tissue, things can still come undone. And that’s why even since clear back in the 70s, when you track all spine surgeries, no matter how awesome and cool they’ve become with laser, spine surgeries, with disc replacements, with all kinds of, microdiscectomy, the fusion surgeries, all the new techniques, it’s still a 40% fail rate. So a little more than a third of all, excuse me, disc and spine surgeries are either worse, or you trade one problem for another. And so the results still are risky. And people are recognizing that, people who have known others who have had spine surgeries. It’s not like it makes, you know, if you’re a 60-year-old that has a spine surgery, it’s not like it makes you 20 years old again. It doesn’t mean you suddenly have this perfect spine. They’re just hoping they can stabilize it enough in order for you to function again. 

Interviewer [21:40]: And of course, this therapeutic laser is an amazing alternative. And you have a special laser, right? Yours is different from others. Tell us about that.

Dr. Ward Wagner [21:48]: Mostly, it is the most powerful laser. We’ve always stayed on top of the edge with that because with the more power you’ve got in a laser, the more penetration that you’ve got deep into tissues, and to reach discs, effectively, you need a powerful laser. So we’re able to treat deeper in a shorter amount of time, essentially.

Interviewer [22:09]: So shorter amount of time. How many treatments does it take to get better? I mean is there?

Dr. Ward Wagner [22:13]: Well, its averages, 12 to 20 is where we fall in. Research shows 15 treatments is the minimum that it takes. And so we start in that range depending on case by case.

Interviewer [22:26]: Well, so great talking with you about this therapeutic laser and decompression is always fascinating to me.  You’re listening to the Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner the number to call 673-1443. And just a reminder, he is offering to our listeners today a $99 initial examined consult, plus two free laser treatments, and a free one-hour massage. So this is a good one head on over to his website, Dr. Wagner, it has been a pleasure listening and talking with you today.

Dr. Ward Wagner [23:02]: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Interviewer [23:06]: So before we close for this session, I wanted to ask you, is laser and decompression, is it safe for kids?

Dr. Ward Wagner [23:14]: Absolutely. So laser therapy is very unique and being light therapy there’s no damage that it does to any tissues, except the eyeballs. We do not shine the laser into eyes. However, every other tissue in the body seems to be fine. Now the jury’s not out on thyroid and so they say okay, don’t shine it on your thyroids. However, when we’re talking about kids who have injuries, whether it’s some of the things we’ve talked about, like rotator cuff or tennis elbows or plantar fasciitis, which are three of the most common sports injuries the laser is very effective in those because we don’t have to worry about growth plates. We don’t have to worry about tissues that are immature we can go ahead and treat with laser on virtually every injury in the body.

Interviewer [24:06]: So gymnastics or baseball or really anything that a young person regardless of age is going through you’re able to fix that?

Dr. Ward Wagner [24:13]: Totally fine. That’s right. 

Interviewer [24:14]: Okay. Well, we’re sure glad to have this extra information today. You’re listening to the Be Pain-Free Radio Show with Dr. Ward Wagner.