BOOK AN APPOINTMENT

Category Archives: Spine Relief

Deskercise Tips for Back Pain Relief

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

Deskercise-Tips-for-Back-Pain-Relief

Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle can be harmful to a person’s overall health. Unfortunately, with many people sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day, the risk of cardiovascular disease, varicose veins, obesity, type 2 diabetes or back problems is increased. That is why it’s important to incorporate some stretching or light exercise during the workday.

Exercise Tips While Sitting at Work

Stretching exercises at your desk can boost energy levels, improve mood and offer upper and lower back pain relief. Here are some tips to help develop a deskercise routine and make each day a little healthier.

  • The Posture Perfecter:

    Neck and back problems can occur more quickly due to bad posture, so be sure to sit properly in your chair and avoid slouching. Adjust the chair height to make sure your feet, hips, and arms are at 90-degree angles to the floor.

  • The Headshot:

    Stretch your neck by gently lowering your right ear to your right shoulder, holding in place for 5 seconds. Repeat to the opposite side. With each stretch, you may find yourself more flexible, but don’t go further than what is comfortable.

  • The Leaning Tower:

    Stretch your arms and your upper body by reaching your hands above your head, stretching toward the ceiling. Lean at the waist in this position, first to the right side, then the left. Try to keep your shoulders from rising to your ears in order to protect your muscles from tensing up.

  • The Pencil Pinch:

    Roll your shoulders back until the shoulder blades are pinched together and pretend you’re holding a pencil between the scapulas. Hold for 5 seconds, release and repeat.

  • The Spine Rotator:

    Use your chair to stretch! Sit upright with both hands on the right side of the chair. Gently rotate your shoulders to the right until your spine is twisting slightly. Release your hands and repeat on the left side.

  • The Last Man Standing:

    Be sure to stand up and walk around for a couple of minutes every hour. This gives the body a break from sitting and increases blood flow.

Don’t be embarrassed to work out a little at your desk. Stretching throughout the workday can offer some lower and upper back pain relief while ensuring that you live a more active lifestyle.

What to Ask at a Spine Surgery Consultation

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

Just as a surgeon needs to know all relevant patient information before operating, it’s critical for a patient to know about the procedure he or she is about to undergo. That is why it’s important for patients to have a list of questions ready for a spine surgery consultation.

what-to-ask-in-spine-surgery-consultation

What Type of Questions to Ask

From filling out new patient forms to meeting with a new spine specialist, a spine surgery consultation visit can be a little overwhelming. Having a list of questions ready for the doctor when you arrive will ensure all concerns are addressed and questions answered before undergoing surgery. But what type of questions should be asked?

Questions to Ask About Diagnosis, Treatment and Procedure

Be sure to ask in detail about the condition that brings you to a spine specialist, what their diagnosis is, how they came to that conclusion and the treatment options available. Some questions to ask include:

  • What is your diagnosis of the symptoms?
  • What treatment options are available? Which course of treatment is recommend and why?
  • If surgery is recommended – please describe in detail what the surgery will entail, from start to finish. Who will be performing the surgery and how long will it take?
  • What are the risk factors and possible complications of the surgery? What are the long-term effects?
  • What can I do on my end to prepare for treatment and surgery to ensure it is as successful as possible?

Questions to Ask About Postoperative Care

Just as you asked questions about your diagnosis and the treatment plan it entails, you should ask questions about the postoperative period. Some questions to consider could be:

  • What should I expect my recovery time to be?
  • What does the post-operative process involve? What can I expect during this period of recovery?
  • How long before I can go back to normal activities, including school or work?
  • What are some complications I should look out for during my recovery time?
  • What should I do if I notice any unusual symptoms?
  • What are your expectations for recovery?

Find Out About a Surgeons Professional Background

Patients should never be afraid to ask specialists about their experience or history. When asking questions during your consultation, don’t be afraid to ask about a surgeon’s professional background and experience with the type of treatment that is being suggested. Some questions to ask include:

  • Have you performed this surgery before? What is your success rate?
  • How long have you been practicing? How long have you been performing this kind of surgery?
  • Are you fellowship-trained?

When it comes to spine surgery preparation, a great specialist knows that providing the patient with as much information as possible makes him or her feel at ease and comfortable, which will make the healing process smoother. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Can Popping Your Back or Neck Cause Spine Damage?

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

Many people crack their knuckles on a regular basis and, although the rumors have always been persistent that knuckle cracking could lead to rheumatoid arthritis, no evidence has been found to suggest that. But what about “popping” your back or neck? Is there a chance that popping either of those could lead to a spine condition?

Where does the “pop” come from?

The popping sound heard when cracking your neck or spine is believed to come from the same process that makes your knuckles crack. Joints are surrounded by fluid-filled membranes that act as a lubricant and shock absorber so your bones don’t grind together when you move. The gases in the fluid, most notably nitrogen and carbon dioxide, escape when pressure is applied to the joint, which creates the popping sound.

Can popping your back or neck lead to a spine condition?

Cracking your back once in a while should not be a cause for concern, nor does it mean that you will develop arthritis or a spine condition as a result.

However, that doesn’t mean that habitually popping your back or neck is without risks. When you routinely crack your neck or back, you’re putting yourself at risk for hypermotility, which essentially means your joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments lose elasticity. In addition, the urge to pop your neck or back on a regular basis may be a sign of an underlying condition, which should be examined by a specialist.

The Bottom Line

Although popping your back and neck once in a while may not do you any harm, doing so habitually, or even having the urge to do so frequently, may be a warning sign that something else is going on. Habitually cracking your back could wear out your joints and connective tissue, making them lose elasticity and put you at risk for discomfort or worse, chronic pain. So be sure to keep your popping in check!

Orthopedic Conditions: What Causes Joint Pain?

By | Pain Relief, Spine Relief | No Comments

Joints connect your bones, allowing for flexibility, mobility, and support. Because joints are an essential part of our daily activities, those who suffer from joint pain can experience a wide spectrum of pain throughout the day. Joint pain is one of the most common orthopedic conditions. It is often related to conditions like arthritis; however, there are many non-arthritic causes of joint pain such as gout, sprains and strains.

Common Causes of Joint Pain

As the population ages, joint-related orthopedic conditions become much more commonplace. This is due to the joints and surrounding bones, tendons, and ligaments wearing out or becoming affected by problems like gout, bursitis, tendonitis, and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, which affects approximately 27 million Americans, is also known as degenerative joint disease. This condition occurs when the protective cartilage at the end of the bone has begun to wear out.

In addition to arthritis, those suffering from fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and, in some rare cases, bone cancer, are vulnerable to joint-related pain. Damage to joints and surrounding tissue can cause both short and long term problems, but age appears to be the primary reason for joint pain that requires chronic pain management.

Symptoms and Treatment for Joint Pain

The key symptoms of joint-related pain include joint swelling, redness, tenderness, warmth, stiffness in the joint, weakness, loss of range of motion in the joint, locking of the joint, and limping. These symptoms are often debilitating enough to necessitate help from an orthopedic specialist. One of the hallmark symptoms of arthritis is joint pain, generally caused by inflammation and erosion of the joints and cartilage between the bones.

Treatment options for joint pain depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Due to the variety of orthopedic conditions which can result in joint pain, it’s important for patients to be diagnosed properly in order to proceed with treatment. Treatment for these conditions can be immediate or part of a comprehensive chronic pain management plan. They may include one or more of the following:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. Topical creams made specifically for arthritis pain and prescription muscle relaxers.
  • Physical therapy, which can help strengthen muscles around the joints and stabilize them.
  • Steroid injections can alleviate severe instances of joint pain, such as; arthritis, tendinitis, and other chronic conditions.
  • Lifestyle changes, especially exercise and weight loss, can help reduce joint pain in those who are overweight.
  • Other techniques such as heat, ice, rest, and glucosamine supplements can be helpful in reducing the joint-related pain.
Pinched Nerves

Facet Disease: What you need to know from MISI

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

Facet-Disease-Causes-and-Symptoms

For those suffering from chronic back pain, the possibility of a ruptured disc or a pinched nerve may have crossed their minds; but what about facet disease? Learning more about this degenerative spine condition could not only help diagnose the condition, but also treat it more effectively.

Facet Joint Basics

In order to understand facet disease, a patient must first understand the role of the facet joint. The facet joint is located in the spine and acts as a small connector running along the lower, mid-back and neck section of the spine. The facet joints allow for vertebral stability in movements such as bending forward, back, sideways or twisting. The facet joint’s role is to make sure the vertebrae are well supported so the body may handle all of the bending and twisting it requires without straining or causing any damage.

Causes and Symptoms of Facet Disease

Many things, including age, genetics and injury, can cause degenerative facet disease. This condition appears when the facet joint wears out and inflammation begins due to continuous use or trauma to the joint area.

There is one telltale sign of facet disease: pain when hyper extending or tilting (bending backwards) the lumbar or cervical spine or twisting. Symptoms of facet disease in the neck can also include headaches that radiate up the back of the head.  Patients often can find some symptom relief by bending forward.

Treating Facet Disease

Degenerative facet disease treatment focuses on the reduction of arthritic symptoms, including pain and inflammation. Non-surgical options include regular exercise to strengthen the spine and surrounding muscles to alleviate strain; use of anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers; cold/heat therapy; chiropractic care; pain management injections and small procedures such as radio frequency ablation.

While uncommon, there are cases severe enough to require surgical measures. In these cases, spine stabilization surgery is performed in order to prevent further degeneration of the adjoining disc, a common progression with facet disease. This surgery will also prevent the eventual debilitating changes that could hinder the patient’s ability to engage in an active lifestyle. There are also a variety of minimally invasive surgical options for degenerative facet disease treatment. These options can be explored with the help of highly qualified, fellowship-trained professionals.

To learn more about facet disease and the various minimally invasive options available for treatment, visit the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute website.

Herniated and Bulging Disc Treatment

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

 

MISI-Herniated-Bulging-Disc-TreatmentSome individuals are under the impression that all disc injuries are interchangeable. The truth is there are notable differences between disc conditions, and these differences will determine the best treatment, depending on whether it is a herniated or bulging disc.

Disc Conditions: What are the Differences?

In order to understand what a herniated disc is, one must understand the structure of the vertebrae in the spine. In between each vertebra is a disc made up of an outer layer of tough but flexible cartilage and an inner layer made of softer, jelly-like fluid. This cushion serves as a shock absorber for vertebra.

When the outer cartilage of the disc ruptures and some of the inner layer is pushed out into the spinal canal, it becomes a herniated disc. Also known as a ruptured or slipped disc, a herniated disc can cause discomfort and pain, particularly when pressing on a nerve root. A herniated disc, depending on its location, can also cause numbness, tingling or weakness along the legs, arms and back. It can be caused by stress on the disc from a variety of causes, such as heavy lifting, trauma or general wear and tear.

A bulging disc protrudes outside of the area it would normally occupy. A bulging disc will generally occur as a result of aging and is more common than a herniated disc. While a bulging disc is not usually painful, inflammation can sometimes occur, which can result in the need for diagnostic testing and bulging disc treatment.

Herniated and Bulging Disc Treatment Options

When it comes to a herniated or bulging disc, it’s important to remember that although different issues cause them, the treatments are very similar in nature. Correctly diagnosing the problem is the key to proceeding with treatment.

Surgery is a last resort when treating herniated discs, as there are non-surgical ways to minimize pain and discomfort. Non-surgical options include a combination of medications, injections and physical therapy. After exhausting all non-surgical treatment options, herniated discs can be treated with minimally invasive surgery.

Bulging disc treatment options vary depending on how far the disc has expanded. Typically, a bulging disc can be treated non-surgically. However, if the bulging disc worsens and advances into a herniated disc, surgical intervention may be necessary.

If you suspect you might be suffering from a herniated or bulging disc, consult your doctor to develop a treatment plan best suited for your needs.

Back Pain Relief During Pregnancy

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

Pregnancy-Back-Pain-Relief

As pregnancy progresses, it’s not uncommon for expectant mothers to begin experiencing back pain as their bodies change. However, understanding what triggers the pain and possible ways to alleviate it can greatly benefit mothers-to-be and help them find the upper or lower back pain relief they are looking for.

What triggers back pain in pregnancy?

A pregnant woman’s body goes through many drastic changes in a short period of time. These changes may enable her to carry her child safely, but they do little to make her feel comfortable or pain-free. Back pain during pregnancy is triggered by a number of changes the body undergoes:

  • Weight gain.

    Typically, a woman can gain anywhere from 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. The back has to compensate for the extra weight it’s carrying around, causing discomfort and pain.

  • Physical and hormonal changes.

    As a woman’s body prepares for childbirth, hormones are released into the body that enable joints and ligaments to loosen and become more pliable. This may cause some discomfort and pain. In addition, a woman’s expanding uterus may cause her rectal abdominis muscles, which run parallel to each other on the right and the left from the pubic bone to the ribcage, may separate at the center, making the pain worse.

  • Changing posture.

    A pregnant woman’s center of gravity moves to the front. To compensate, a woman may adjust her posture to even things out, but that may not always help. In fact, the strain may cause more pain and discomfort.

What to do for back pain relief?

Fortunately, although there are many reasons for being in pain, there are also many alternatives for pregnant women to experience back pain relief. Whether the focus is on lower back or upper back pain relief, here are some tips that can help the expectant mother enjoy her pregnancy pain-free:

  • Keep good posture.

    That means standing as straight and tall as possible, sitting in chairs with good support and keeping shoulders and knees relaxed.

  • Use pregnancy or body pillows to keep a good posture while sleeping

    . Pregnant women should lie on their side with knees bent for minimal stress to the back.

  • Wear low-heeled shoes

    to maintain good posture and balance, as well as maintaining good support.

  • Regular massages

    can help ease the tension in the back and alleviate pain. Other forms of treatments, such as chiropractic care, can bring further back pain relief.

  • Stay physically active

    . Depending on a doctor’s recommendation, expecting women can engage in physical activity to strengthen their back and help alleviate discomfort.

Regardless of how a woman finds back pain relief, it’s important to recognize when to see a professional. If you or a loved one experiences chronic pain while pregnant, talk to your doctor for the best approach for a pain management plan.

Ice or Heat for Back Pain Relief ?

By | Pain Relief, Spine Relief | No Comments

If you’re one of many back pain sufferers, you’re probably familiar with the use of ice or heat for back pain. Two very common non-pharmaceutical treatments, heat and ice therapies have their own benefits. It’s important to figure out which is the right form of therapy for your condition.

Ice: Shocking the Muscles into Relief

Ice therapy is a common and effective method for reducing swelling and inflammation caused by lower back injuries, muscle sprains and conditions such as arthritis.

How does cold therapy help? The shock of the cold applied to the injured area causes the veins to contract, giving the muscles room to flex and become less inflamed. Combining ice therapy with heat is a great way to help the area recover faster. Doctors generally recommend ice therapy in three 10-15 minute increments a day for the first few days following an injury.

Heat: Blood and Oxygen Flow

Heat therapy can be a more effective method of lower back pain relief for those suffering from chronic lower back pain and back injuries. When applied, heat relaxes the veins, which has several effects on the injured area:

  1. It improves blood flow so nutrients and oxygen, necessary for the healing of tissue, can get to the injured area faster.
  2. The heat relaxes and soothes the muscles, reducing pain.
  3. The increased flow of oxygen and blood helps the body to eliminate cellular waste so the injured area can heal faster.

Heat is often used in combination with ice therapy for injuries to the lower back. However, it’s also an effective solo treatment for chronic back pain. Moist heat — showers, baths or moist warm towels — often works best for back pain relief, but heating pads and all-day heat packs can help alleviate pain throughout the day. Typical treatment lasts 15-20 minutes.

Long-lasting Pain Relief

Heat and cold therapies can be great for relieving back pain for minor injuries, but if the pain persists, you may need a more effective way to get the upper or lower back pain relief you need. If you’re experiencing chronic pain from arthritis, a degenerative disc or another back condition, talk to your doctor to find the right pain management plan for you.

Scoliosis Treatment 101: What You Need to Know from MISI

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

scoliosistreatment

About two to three percent of Americans today suffer from a condition known as scoliosis, an abnormal curvature in the spine. While many choose not to deal with it, those with severe cases can consider long-lasting scoliosis treatment to drastically improve their spine condition.

Scoliosis refers to an abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine.  A normal spine from a back view looks straight from top to bottom with no curvature. Scoliosis is not a disease, but instead describes a structural abnormality in the body.

The spine provides major support for our bodies to stand upright. Deformity in the spine arises from congenital, neuromuscular, degenerative or idiopathic (no identifiable cause) conditions. Idiopathic represents the most common cause of scoliosis in children, while degenerative scoliosis occurs most frequently in adults. Degenerative scoliosis results commonly from traumatic bone collapse, osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. Scoliosis can run in families, with girls more commonly afflicted with severe scoliosis.

A person with scoliosis may show signs of fatigue or possibly exhibit no symptoms at all as pain rarely occurs except in severe or degenerative causes.

Symptoms of scoliosis appear as any of the following:

  • One shoulder appears higher than the other
  • Shoulder blade on one side protrudes more
  • Rib cage appears imbalanced
  • Uneven hips
  • Waist appears to be uneven
  • Body leans to one side
  • One leg may look shorter
  • Difficult breathing, limited mobility and pain in severe cases

 

Adult scoliosis treatment can vary depending on the severity of signs and symptoms.  Most cases of scoliosis appear to be mild and can be monitored over time with X-rays. Mild cases require no treatment. If severe spinal curvature is present, it can reduce the space in the chest needed for the heart and lung, most likely requiring surgery. Surgery can also keep scoliosis from deteriorating and stop the rotation and twisting of the spine.

In the past, moderate to severe scoliosis cases required scoliosis treatment with open back surgery, but medical advances have allowed for new surgical options. Surgeons can now perform minimally invasive surgery to correct the abnormal curvature of the spine and relieve pain. Minimally invasive spine surgery does not cut across muscle or use expandable retractors that prolong recovery after surgery. With scoliosis treatment by minimally invasive spine surgery, the pain and discomfort of open back surgery is avoided and recovery is quicker.

Spinal Fusion: When is it Necessary and Can it be Achieved with Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

By | Spine Relief | No Comments

minimally-invasive-spine-surgery

 

In a recent post, we discussed Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s spine conditions and his herniated disc treatment with minimally invasive spine surgery. In Romo’s case, spinal fusion was not necessary in his treatment for a herniated disc. By comparison, the minimally invasive spine surgery Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning needed to heal his neck pain and arm weakness was a pinched nerve treatment called anterior cervical discectomy that did require fusion.

Why did Manning need a fusion if Romo didn’t? In this post, we will discuss what spinal fusion actually means and when it is necessary. Importantly, both quarterbacks made excellent recoveries after receiving the minimally invasive spine surgery they needed. In fact, both were selected for the 2015 Pro Bowl! The same spine surgery procedures are routinely performed to achieve back pain relief at Minimally Invasive Surgical Institute by our fellowship-trained spine specialists.

What is spinal fusion?

Simply put, spinal fusion refers to connecting or “fusing” two adjacent bones in your back. To really understand spinal fusion we have to discuss a little anatomy, including the basic bones and joints that make up your spine.

Your spine is made up of a series of 33 bones (called vertebrae) that extend from your skull all the way down to your hips, forming the spinal canal (a protective tube of bone that your spinal cord runs through). There are 3 major joints that connect adjacent vertebrae at each spine level: a pair of 2 facet joints and 1 intervertebral disc (which is a special type of joint).

Intervertebral discs are in the front of your spinal canal and act as shock absorbers for the wear and tear of everyday life. Facet joints are at the back of your spinal canal and are key to the flexibility in your spine, allowing you to bend forward and lean back. They also provide structural stability to the spine, preventing one vertebrae from sliding too far away from the other, which could narrow your spinal canal and injure your spinal cord.

 

How is spinal fusion achieved?

In spinal fusion procedures, the soft and mobile joints between vertebrae are replaced by strong bone that enhances stability, providing back pain relief. In most cases, parts of the spinal joints are removed to make space for bone to grow and connect the two adjacent vertebrae. Often times, removing part of the intervertebral disc and/or facets is also very therapeutic, because when these joints degenerate they can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerve. Removing the intervertebral disc in the lower back is called a lumbar discectomy surgery, and removing a disc in the neck is called a cervical discectomy.

Following the removal of joint material from the facets and discs, this space is filled with biologic substances that promote bone growth across the joint space –Fusion! Since you have 33 vertebrae, losing movement at a few levels due to fusion generally has a relatively small impact on the overall flexibility of the spine.

 

Why does spinal fusion require implants such as rods and screws?

In order for bone growth to occur across adjacent vertebrae, that segment of spine must be kept stable. If the spine were to move too much at the site where bone growth is supposed to take place, fusion would not occur. Implants such as screws and rods are used to hold vertebrae at that spinal level in place while fusion develops. A piece of scaffolding (called an inter-body graft) is often also used to maintain the spacing between vertebrae and aid in fusion. Once fusion occurs, these implants serve no purpose, but they are generally left in place because they do not cause discomfort.

 

When is spinal fusion necessary?

The main indications for spinal fusion are to enhance spinal stability and/or improve spinal balance. By improving spinal stability and balance, fusion procedures can reduce pain and improve neurologic function. Spinal balance is critical to the pain free function of our spine and essential to our ability to stand upright without expending too much energy. In some cases, individuals are born with their spine curves out of balance (pediatric scoliosis). In others, spinal imbalance is the result of arthritis and progressive degeneration of the spine. In both cases, fusion procedures can be used to restore spinal balance.

Fusion is more frequently used to correct spinal instability, which simply refers to motion of spine segments that is greater than normal. The physical stress of everyday life often leads to degeneration of the joints in the spine, which can cause spinal instability. The increased movement of degenerated unstable joints leads to more inflammation, greater degeneration and further instability – it is a viscous cycle. Joints in the spine are very sensitive and the whole process is incredibly painful! The goal of fusion procedures is to replace these painful unstable joints with solid bone that provides stability and reduces pain.

 

What are some common spine fusion procedures? 

Spine surgery continues to evolve at an exciting pace, with experts using new technology and novel techniques to treat spine conditions and provide back pain relief. The most common fusion procedure used to treat spine conditions affecting the neck and arms is called an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion (ACDF). Spine conditions affecting the lower back and legs can be treated with lumbar fusion procedures, including transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), and direct lateral interbody fusion (DLIF). If you are considering a spinal fusion, you should discuss which technique your surgeon plans to use and why.

 

Are there minimally invasive options? And if so, what are the advantages?

Yes! All of these fusion procedures can be achieved through minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive techniques minimize bleeding, muscle cutting and trauma to the surrounding soft tissue. This reduces post-operative pain and accelerates recovery compared to traditional surgery options.

 

What type of doctor is qualified to perform a spinal fusion?

Technically, any orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon is licensed to perform a spinal fusion.  But given the technical and constantly evolving nature of complex fusion surgeries, doctors who have special fellowship training in spine surgery are the most qualified to perform the procedure. If you are considering a cervical or lumbar fusion and are interested in learning more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery, make an appointment with one of our fellowship-trained spine surgery specialists.