How to Make it Through Your Cervical Kyphosis Treatment

Cervical kyphosis is a real pain in the neck. Literally.

And while the condition can cause pain in the neck, there can also be burning pain or tingling in the arms and hands.

On top of that, cervical kyphosis can also cause weakness in the arms and create difficulty with coordination, performing activities and holding in one position for too long.

But there is hope through cervical kyphosis treatment.

There are a variety of cervical kyphosis treatment options.

Treatment options fall into two categories – conservative or surgical – and the chosen treatment will depend on how severe the condition is and the conditions that caused it.

Surgery is not recommended if the curve in the neck is fixed, and there are no neurological problems due to pressure on the spinal cord. Since the curve is fixed – meaning that it’s not going to change – then that means it won’t get any worse.

In this case, conservative treatments are recommended. These include:

A Neck Collar or Brace 

A doctor may advise using some sort of neck support as a part of a cervical kyphosis treatment. Neck braces, cervical neck supports, and soft neck collars help to relieve strain on the neck muscles.

Plus, these supports can be helpful in speeding up the recovery time after an injury.

Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy helps with the correction of cervical posture through movement training and pacing of activities.

These exercises can also help to reduce pain, strengthen neck muscles and improve range of motion. Warm and cold compresses may be used to help manage pain.

Speaking of pain…


Medications for cervical kyphosis treatment are used to relieve pain, muscle spasms, and inflammation.

The two main over-the-counter medications are:

  • Acetaminophen – better known as Tylenol. Acetaminophen is an analgesic, which reduces pain by blocking the brain’s perception of pain. It is ideal for pain flare-ups.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – better known as Advil or Aleve. Over-the-counter NSAIDs lessen pain by reducing inflammation.

If over-the-counter medications aren’t cutting it, the doctor may prescribe something stronger.

Whatever the case, medication serves only to mask pain. So, it is recommended that exercises for cervical kyphosis be done during those times when pain is absent or lessened by the medication.

That way, the neck muscles get strengthened.

Excessive cervical kyphosis can be treated with surgery.

In severe cases where there is chronic and persistent pain, compression of the spinal cord, progression of the curve and/or a worsening of neurological problems, surgery is up for consideration.

Today, most surgery used in cervical kyphosis treatment involves putting in some type of metal plate or rod to hold the spine in place and straighten it.

With surgery, there may be an operation from the front to relieve the pressure on the spine, and then another operation from the back to put the metal in and prevent the kyphosis from returning.

In only the most extreme cases, the surgery may include an osteotomy, which involves cutting the vertebrae to allow the surgeon to straighten the spine. The spinal cord itself is not cut.

Whatever the reason for your cervical kyphosis, you’re sure to find a treatment option that’s right for you. And, if you have any other questions that weren’t addressed here, let us know.

What to Expect After Thoracic Spine Surgery

Knowledge is power, right? Well, having knowledge about what to expect after thoracic spine surgery is a powerful tool in recovery.

The decision to have thoracic spine surgery is not an easy one to make. It usually takes extensive consultation with your doctor, and often it’s after exhausting non-surgical treatment options.

Once you’ve made the decision to have thoracic spine surgery, here is a brief view of what to expect during the recovery process.

Hospital Stay After Thoracic Spine Surgery

Thoracic spine surgery patients usually remain in the hospital for 3 to 5 days. In order to be released from hospital care, patients need to:

  • administer oral pain medications, as needed,
  • get themselves up out of bed and walk around without assistance, and
  • use bathroom facilities, regularly, without assistance.

Physical therapists are usually available to help you learn how to perform these tasks while protecting your recovering body.

Recovery Time

Once home, thoracic spine surgery patients can expect a recovery time of 3 to 6 months.

After the rehabilitation period in the hospital, home care includes:

  • wound care,
  • starting to integrate basic movements into your day, and
  • working with a physical therapist (usually after 4 weeks).

Physical therapy usually lasts for 3 months and is conducted along with regular visits to your doctor.

Once you regain your normal strength and range of movement, you should be able to participate in activities that you enjoyed before going under the knife.


Of course, heavy lifting is discouraged for several weeks after thoracic spine surgery. This should be no surprise.

Specifically, you should avoid:

  • bending or twisting your back often,
  • lifting anything similar to the weight of a gallon of milk (5 lbs),
  • running, vacuuming, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, and
  • activities that make you feel back strain.

This means that planning ahead for how chores will be done is essential for a smooth recovery.

You will also not be able to drive for a few weeks. And even when you will be ready to hit the road, you will still need a neck brace, which may limit your range of vision. (delete these repeated words: For at least 2 months.) For at least 2 months, you will rely on a friend or relative for your transportation needs.

How Can I Help Myself Recover Faster?

  1. Move regularly. Ideally, you should take a light walk around your home every 1.5 – 2 hours you’re awake. This helps build muscle and prevents a build up of blood clots in your legs.
  2. Change positions. If you’re on the couch in the morning, try sitting at the table for lunch, and then outside on a patio in the afternoon.
  3. If you feel any pain, or pain increases, stop doing whatever you are doing.
  4. Ice can help your back if you experience pain. But remember to separate your skin and the ice pack with a towel. Do this for 30 minutes, 4 times a day.
  5. Wash your thoracic spine surgery wounds with soap and water daily. Do this in the shower, not in a bath.
  6. Keep the wound uncovered unless there is drainage.

What else?

With a decrease in physical activity, you’re likely to constipate. Make sure that your post-thoracic spine surgery diet consists of:

  • fruits,
  • bran cereal,
  • lots of fluids.

Don’t be afraid to invest in laxatives if the diet is not helping.

Also, keep educating yourself on thoracic spine surgeries. The more you learn how to care for yourself, the higher your chances of having a swift recovery.

Remember, recovery is a process. It can be shorter or longer, often depending on factors such as your age, health prior to surgery and, importantly, how well you can take care of yourself.

By knowing what to expect after a thoracic spine surgery, you will be in a better position to prepare yourself accordingly and handle post-surgery stress.

Are you struggling with upper back pain? Do you want to know if you need a surgery? Contact us today and talk to a certified neurosurgeon.

How to Tell if You Are Developing Spinal Cord Tumors

Spinal Cord Tumors

Spinal cord tumors can be a deadly diagnosis.

Along with brain tumors, they are the deadliest form of tumor. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 23,000 people will be diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor in the U.S. in 2017.

Not all of these tumors are cancerous,but getting them checked is essential.

As with any type of cancer, early detection is the key to treatment, and ultimately, to survival.

Regular medical examinations are important. Knowing the symptoms and signs of a spinal cord tumor can also help with early detection.

What are the symptoms of spinal cord tumors?

One of the hardest parts about detecting these tumors is how varied the symptoms can be.

The symptoms that a patient will experience largely depend on where the tumor is located on the spine. How close the tumor is located to blood vessels and nerves, the size of the tumor, and how long it has been developing can affect symptoms as well.

Some of the earliest symptoms of spinal cord tumors are back pain and pain in the arms, legs, hips, and feet.

If the tumor is located on nerves, the patient may experience loss of sensation and decreased sensitivity.

Muscle weakness is also a common symptom, especially as the tumor grows. This can cause instability and trouble walking over time.

Other symptoms include loss of bowel function, spinal deformities, and paralysis.

How do you know when you should see a doctor?

Back pain can be the result of many problems. This can make it tough to figure out whether your back pain may be the result of a spinal cord tumor.

But abnormal back pain is always a cause for concern. If you notice that your back pain continues even after you’ve laid down in bed for the night, it could be the result of a tumor. Or, if your back pain doesn’t appear to be related to your activity levels, you should see a doctor right away.

If you experience persistent back pain, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor who can try to determine a cause.

If you notice any muscle weakness or changes in your bowel function, you should see a doctor immediately.

Patients who have a history of cancer should be especially alert to any possible symptoms.

Who is at risk of spinal cord tumors?

These tumors have many causes. Some people are more at risk than others for developing tumors.

For instance, those with a history of cancer or other hereditary conditions like Von Hippel-Lindau disease or Neurofibromatosis are more likely to develop tumors.

Anyone with a compromised immune system is also at an increased risk.

Exposure to chemicals from certain industries or from radiation treatments can also cause tumors.

If you have exhibited any of the above symptoms of spinal cord tumors, it may be time to see your doctor. The experts at Executive Spine Surgery can help.

Tumors can be serious. But with early detection and treatment, removal and recovery is always a possibility.

What You Need to Know about Revision Spine Surgery

revision spine surgeryIf you have ever suffered from back pain, you know it can be excruciating, and in the worst cases, debilitating.

It can affect your ability to walk, drive, work, play with your kids, or perform many other basic tasks.

For relief from their back pain, nearly half a million Americans undergo spinal surgery each year.

Unfortunately, however, many times the initial spinal surgery is unsuccessful. In these cases, patients may have to undergo revision spine surgery.

When surgeons perform revision spine surgery, they might simply repeat the original procedure because it failed to address the patient’s problem the first time around, or they may perform an entirely different procedure.

In the latter case, it could be that the wrong procedure was completed the first time, or it could be that a new condition has developed since the initial operation.

No matter the case, revision spine surgery comes with lots of questions.

Why do you need it?

What should you expect if you need it?

Are you going to be able to get back to all those activities you enjoy?

Keep reading for answers to your revision spine surgery questions.

Do You Need Revision Spine Surgery?

Your need for revision spine surgery will depend on your initial diagnosis and your symptoms following your initial surgery.

Here is a look at some of the most common conditions requiring surgery, and the symptoms  that might signal you need revision spine surgery:

  • Discectomy — This procedure involves removing pieces of disc material that have torn off or completely separated, from the main disc. As long as there is part of the original disc in place, it is possible to develop recurring disc herniations. You’ll know this may be happening to you if you have shooting pain down your arm.
  • Pseudoarthrosis — If a year has passed since your initial surgery and your bones still haven’t fused, you may be experiencing pseudoarthrosis. This occurs in about 68 percent of lumbar fusions, and about 36 percent of those cases require spine revision surgery. Pseudoarthrosis is more likely to occur in those who had spinal fusions without hardware.
  • Adjacent Segment Degeneration — Adjacent segment degeneration is a condition in which the joints right above or right below the site of the spinal surgery undergo anatomical changes. Usually, this takes about two years to develop. One of the most common symptoms associated with ASD is pain down the leg.
  • Total Disc Replacement — This is a relatively new procedure in the United States and one that very few patients actually need. When another surgery is needed, it is usually because of hardware failure.
  • Faulty Hardware — This one is straightforward enough. If you have had rods, screws or other equipment implanted during your initial surgery and that equipment fails, you will need to go back under the knife to fix the faulty parts.

Other factors that can contribute to failed procedures and the need for a second surgery include the development of scar tissue, surgical errors, and the patient’s overall health condition.

To determine whether you need another operation, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and order a variety of diagnostic scans, including CTs, MRIs, X-rays, EMGs and bone scans.

After carefully reviewing the results of these tests, your physician may conclude you do indeed need another procedure.

You won’t be alone, however.

For as much as 40 percent of back surgery patients, this is the case.

What to Expect

You’ve just had one spinal surgery when your doctor tells you that you need another. Such news can be devastating.

After all, you were envisioning yourself healed by this point, able to do all the things you enjoy in life without pain, or limited range of motion, or worry.

When your doctor tells you that you need a second surgery, a lot of thoughts may cross your mind:

Will I ever be free of my back pain?

What if this surgery goes wrong?

Will I be worse off than I was before?

These are all understandable worries, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Research conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine shows that patients who have revision spine surgery are just as likely to make a full recovery the second time around as those who have only had the initial surgery.

The key, researchers found, lies in making the correct diagnosis and performing the surgery correctly.

Complications can always arise, of course, but the takeaway is that revision spine surgery is no more likely to go wrong than initial spine surgeries.

That’s good news!

“In fact, the outcome for revision patients is a bit better in some of the study tools we use to assess their function. And the complication rate isn’t significantly higher,” researcher and orthopedic surgeon Khaled Kebaish told Johns Hopkins News in 2013.

If at first, your surgery wasn’t successful, try again — and in all likelihood, this time it will work, and you’ll be back to doing all the things you enjoy.

Also, you might take comfort in the fact that it may be possible to correct your spinal issue through a minimally invasive surgery.

In these cases, the incision is less than 1 inch in length, and the recovery time is much shorter than with traditional operations.

Your physician will have to determine the course of treatment your condition requires.

Whatever your condition and no matter if you are undergoing an initial spinal surgery or a revision spine surgery, your quickest path to recovery will be to strictly follow your physician’s post-op advice.

This will likely mean taking antibiotics, perhaps restricting your movements or completing a round of physical therapy.

Whatever he or she prescribes, it is in your best interest, and if you follow his or her directions closely, you will be much more likely to have a positive outcome.

Executive Spine Surgery offers a wide range of treatment options for back pain, including spinal injections, pain mapping, endoscopic, minimally invasive and complex spinal surgery, joint and lumbar fusion, and much more.

For an appointment or additional information, contact us today.

Back Pain? 5 Stretches to Find Relief

Back PainBack and spine pain does not discriminate.

Construction workers, accountants, and teachers are all victims of chronic suffering and torment. The leading cause of disability and missing work is back pain.

Avoid asking for painkiller medications by performing stretches and exercises that can strengthen your back and improve flexibility. Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid sedentary lifestyles (especially if your occupation requires extended periods of sitting).

If you find yourself sitting or lying down for extended periods of time, make time to move around, stretch, and hydrate. Studies show prolonged sitting puts you at a higher risk for diabetes, cancer, and cardiac arrest.

When Dr. Spivak’s office closes and you still need relief, we want to provide a list of at-home stretches specifically to target back pain.

Even if all your pain is concentrated to your back, stretches should activate the entire body. Many times the back becomes injured due to injuries and strains on other parts of the body. Holistic approaches to the medical care of your body is key to eliminating back pain.

Causes of Back and Spine Pain

While you might think you hurt your back the day the pain started, a lot of times it’s triggered by lesser known reasons including alcohol consumption and prolonged poor posture.

Stress and inactivity are also unsuspecting causes of chronic back pain.

Knowing the causes doesn’t solve your current pain, but recognizing common factors can prevent future pain.

Before You Stretch

The most elite athletes stretch before they work – we should do the exact same thing.

Any free time is acceptable for stretching. A boss probably encourages small breaks to move around and get your blood circulating.

Gently test the range of your body, and do not stretch through any pain (as this may cause injury).

Please consult Dr. Spivak or your physician before beginning these stretches. If you experience pain, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

5. Table Stretch

This stretch is appropriate only after your pain has started to subside. Since your nerves are being stretched, you want to be certain the healing process has already begun.

Hold on to a table and bend at the waist keeping your legs straight. Your body should form a perfect 90-degree angle with your face downward. Hold this form for 15 seconds and repeat three more times.

The stretch should lightly pull on the nerves from the spine to the legs. Since nerves are involved, do not overuse this stretch or pain may return.

4. Piriformis Stretch

Soccer players love this stretch (or their coach always forces them to do it).

Lay on your back and bend your knees until your feet are flat on the ground. Place your right ankle on your opposite knee and lift that knee towards your chest. Switch feet and repeat.

Additionally, the piriformis stretch can relieve knee and ankle pain and plantar fasciitis.

Do not bounce to increase your range – this can lead to injury.

3. Decompression Breathing

Stand with your toes touching and heels slightly apart. Slightly bend your knees and shift your weight onto your heels, and carefully bring them together. Reach straight up into the sky over your head and press your hands together.

When you inhale, lift your chest away from your waist. Tighten your core when you exhale to strengthen the spine. Repeat this breathing to introduce oxygen flow and improve your back.

2. Pigeon Pose

Your body will look exactly how it sounds – a pigeon!

Sit with your right knee bent and the left leg extended pointed behind you. If possible, move your right foot away from your body. If the bottom of your foot faces the ceiling, bring it back to your body.

Rest your hands on your hips and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. Many forms of yoga use this stretch. The pictures of yoga instructors performing this will look moderately different from what you are trying to accomplish.

1. Hip Stretch

Sit with your legs extended and together. Bring your right foot over your left knee. Now, bring your right knee close to your chest with your hands.

Breathe 10 deep slow breaths and repeat with your other leg. The hip stretch also loosens glutes.

Continue to stretch if it keeps the pain away. Sometimes the pain won’t subside until a few minutes after the stretching is complete.

Is The Spine Pain Still There?

These stretches and others may not completely relieve the pain. There are other minimally invasive methods to feel whole again. Dr. Carl Spivak can help put together a plan for you.

Spinal Cord Stimulation – electrical impulses block the transmission of pain from different parts of the body to the brain

This treatment replaces the pain with a tingling feeling.

Yoga – some of the above-mentioned stretches are included in different styles of yoga.

Exercise – regular exercise combined with stretching can strengthen the muscles around the spinal column.

Quit Smoking – Smoking restricts blood flow to the lower back and promotes the deterioration of your disks.

Always consult your physician. Home remedies are great for the evenings and weekends, but constant pain isn’t something you should ignore.

What’s Next For You?

Hopefully, stretching is part of the solution for the painthat has kept you from enjoying the fullest in life. There are plenty of other stretches that can relieve pain and discomfort, but these stretches are useduniversallyfor many injuries and reasons.

Also: be sure to drink water.

It’s been mentioned a few times already. Taking care of your spine and neck requires lots of hydration to reduce stiffness, as areproper posture to prevent unnecessary stress on the back, and proper sleep. Yes, not enough sleep has been linked to an increase in spinal problems.

Dealing with back and spine pain of any kind is serious and deserves your attention. Stretching and the other remedies listed can improve and diminish these effects.

However, persistent and increasing pain warrants immediate examination of a physician – sometimes more. In the worst cases, surgery is recommended to correct these ailments. No one wants to do it, but it may be the thing that fixes you.

Contact Dr. Spivak if you have considered spinal procedures. We don’t want your condition to get this far, but we want you to know we are here to help.


Fibromyalgia Treatment: The Comprehensive Approach

Fibromyalgia Treatment

If you have received a fibromyalgia diagnosis, you will no doubt be used to the chronic pain that comes with the condition.

Muscle aches, stiffness, anxiety, and fatigue are just some of the things that you encounter on a daily basis. And, though currently there is no cure, fibromyalgia treatment can and does relieve symptoms considerably.

Fibromyalgia Treatment

Fibromyalgia treatment is best when it’s comprehensive.

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t yield the greatest patient outcomes, as no two conditions present in exactly the same way.

Instead, the best fibromyalgia treatment necessitates a combination of medication, home therapy and a change in lifestyle habits.

And, what is more, this treatment will be all-inclusive and patient-centred.

Have you, like millions of other Americans,been diagnosed with fibromyalgia? Are you wondering if you are suffering from this chronic pain condition?

Read on. We have all the information you need and more.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Sometimes patients are left waiting on effective fibromyalgia treatment for far longer than what is ideal. This is because fibromyalgia isn’t easily diagnosed through a single test. Rather, it is diagnosed based on a collection of signs, symptoms and medical problems that occur together but have no identifiable cause.

It presents itself in the form of widespread pain in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

It’s a chronic condition but it isn’t progressive and it’s not life-threatening. Appearing in more women than men, it can be called other names such as Chronic Muscle Pain Syndrome, Psychogenic Rheumatism, and Fibrositis.

What Causes Fibromyalgia?

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown.

In some cases, a theory called “central sensitization” may be at play. This is when a person has a lower pain threshold than others due to an increased sensitivity in the brain to pain signals.

A number of other factors may play a role.

Fibromyalgia symptoms differ from one person to another. They also vary in intensity from one day to the next. It follows then, that the onset of symptoms appears differently too.

For some people, it appears that symptoms can be triggered by certain events.

These events include the following:

  • Psychological stress – A sudden stressful event or a prolonged period of stress
  • Sleep disturbances – Often spotted as a symptom, some experts theorize that this may, in fact, be a cause
  • Physical trauma – If an injury affects the central nervous system, this can initiate fibromyalgia symptoms
  • An infection – A viral or bacterial infection can trigger fibromyalgia
  • Changes in muscle metabolism – Abnormalities in the hormonal substance that influences the nerves may play a role

In some cases, symptoms have no apparent trigger at all and, instead, gradually accumulate over a period of time.

Specific Symptoms 

People with fibromyalgia will be all too familiar with the different symptoms that are associated with the condition.

Symptoms include the following:

  • Pain in tender points across the body
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Deep muscle pain and/or burning
  • Muscle twitching
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Aching all over
  • Tension headaches
  • Chronic headaches
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Numbness and/or tingling in hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Always feeling tired – even after a good night’s sleep

Factors such as the time of day, the weather, the amount of physical activity you engage in, and the amount of stress in your life are all factors that can have an effect on the symptoms as they appear.

If left untreated, living with fibromyalgia can be a truly exhausting experience. While the intensity of symptoms vary, the pain is unlikely to disappear completely by itself.

Fibromyalgia Treatment – The Comprehensive Approach

When fibromyalgia is treated effectively, a comprehensive, widespread, multidisciplinary approach is taken.

Pain management, physical therapy, and lifestyle adjustments are an important part of any successful fibromyalgia treatment.

Here are some treatments with proven efficacy:


Certain medications can be used in fibromyalgia treatment.

They come in the following three different forms:

Pain Relievers 

Medications such as Tylenol, etc, may help relieve the pain and stiffness caused by fibromyalgia.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Aspirin, Ibuprofen), when combined with other medications can relieve pain in many cases.

In certain cases, pain relieving injections can be administered.


A wide range of antidepressants may be used to treat the condition.

In some cases, antidepressants can help regulate brain chemicals that transmit pain signals. This can relieve pain, fatigue and can aid sleep problems.

In addition, antidepressants actively help with symptoms of depression, a condition commonly seen in people with fibromyalgia.

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle pain is the primary symptom of fibromyalgia, so effective fibromyalgia treatment often includes the use of muscle relaxants.

Taking certain muscle relaxants at bedtime may help treat muscle pain and spasms. Though in most cases, muscle relaxants will be used for a limited amount of time.


The use of exercise is a powerful fibromyalgia treatment, even though this may seem counter-intuitive to some sufferers.

Often, the pain a person is currently in leads them to fear exercise in the extreme.

But, this fear is simply that: a fear. Aerobic or conditioning exercise can help relieve the pain of fibromyalgia, and it can also relieve symptoms of depression.

Regular, consistent exercise increases the production of endorphins, nature’s natural painkillers that help with mood.

Starting slowly and increasing the duration and intensity of exercise can be an important aspect of fibromyalgia treatment.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy is frequently recommended in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

It’s been well-researched, it works for many different people, and, when combined with other interventions specifically tailored to the individual needs of each patient, it can be extremely effective.

Working Closely with Your Doctor

This is an extremely important part of all fibromyalgia treatment.

Dr. Spivak will not only understand your fibromyalgia symptoms, he will put you, the person with the condition, front, and center of everything he does.

He is a trained expert who understands more than anyone else, the precise nature of the pain you live with. He can assess your symptoms, understand your needs, and tailor a unique and specific approach for you.

And, remember, in certain cases, surgery may be a good option for all kinds of chronic pain. If this is the case, he will be able to recommend the least invasive, most cutting edge surgery for you.

Fibromyalgia Treatment to Improve Your Health

You can now consider yourself well-versed in fibromyalgia as a condition, and in the different forms of treatment that help relieve symptoms.

Should you have any further questions, or if you need any more advice, why not reach out and talk to Dr. Spivak?

You never have to suffer alone.

10 Facts You Need to Know About Spinal Stenosis Surgery

Spinal Stenosis SurgeryYou can never be too careful about your health. Living with chronic and often debilitating pain is, unfortunately, a reality for many patients, and can sap life of all its joy.

Spinal ailments are some of the major causes of chronic pain, and are caused by a variety of conditions.

Spinal stenosis is a fairly rare condition in which the spinal canal can start to narrow, exerting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This causes numbness, tingling, and often pain in the arms, legs, torso or back. It often requires spinal stenosis surgery.

Spinal stenosis most commonly occurs in those above 50 years of age and can be categorized into two main types—Lumbar Stenosis and Cervical Stenosis.

Lumbar Stenosis- This affliction targets the spinal nerve roots in the lower part of the back, often producing symptoms of sciatica—tingling, weakness or numbness that radiates from the lower back and spreads to the hips and legs.

Cervical Stenosis- Rarer than lumbar stenosis, cervical stenosis is characterized by pain in the neck and is often more dangerous than lumbar stenosis. Compression of the spinal cord can lead to serious problems—often even paralysis.

The treatment involved in spinal stenosis can be fraught with dangers, and must be ventured into only with a qualified and experienced medical professional. Cervical spine surgery recovery can take three months to a year.

Neurological surgery and spine surgery are extremely invasive and critical procedures, as the target area is the spinal cord. A minor slip by the physician can cause extreme complications, including patient paralysis.

Here are 10 important things to keep in mind if you are contemplating corrective surgery to treat spinal stenosis:

  1. Spinal stenosis surgery is often seen as the last resort in treatment.

Physicians don’t often recommend spinal stenosis surgery unless all other options have been exhausted.

Your doctor will most likely try to treat spinal stenosis with other, non-invasive options like exercise, physical therapy and perhaps, a back or neck brace, before resorting to surgery.

Some considerations physicians keep in mind when recommending stenosis of the spine surgery are:

  • If the patient has been suffering pain from a long time
  • Whether stenosis has caused numbness or loss of sensation in the limbs
  • Loss of control over bowel movement
  • Loss of strength and control in the arms and legs.
  1. Spinal stenosis can often be treated non-surgically.

Exercise, physiotherapy and physical constrictions can often clear up mild cases of stenosis, without requiring surgery.

Doctors may prescribe one of more of the following, non-invasive modes of treatment.

  • Medication to alleviate pain
  • Exercises to correct spinal narrowing
  • Medicines to reduce swelling
  • Physical therapy with a qualified physiotherapist
  • Limits on physical activity
  • A brace or similar constrictive instrument for the back.

Spinal cord stimulation is also a mildly invasive, but very effective form of treatment that can help in alleviating spinal stenosis symptoms.

  1. Prepping for surgery.

Spinal stenosis surgery often requires specialized blood tests, ECG, urinalysis, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other tests to determine the patient’s health condition.

In addition, patients may be asked to follow a special diet before surgery, refrain from smoking and the use of anticoagulants such as Coumadin and Aspirin, as these can interfere with the natural process of blood coagulation.

  1. Reasons you could need spinal stenosis surgery.

Surgery should  be considered only  if you :

  • Have exhausted all other treatment options.
  • Suffer from chronic and extreme pain.
  • Have low motor strength or loss of sensation in your arms and legs.
  • Have little to no control over bowel movements.
  1. Surgery Techniques.

Spinal stenosis surgery is done to free up areas for your spinal cord and the nerve roots. This is called decompression.

The two main surgery techniques that are often employed in spine surgery are:

  • Decompression– tissue pressing against a nerve structure is removed, making more room for the spinal canal.
  • Stabilization– limits motion between the vertebrae.
  1. Open Spine Surgery or Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Surgery usually performed by means of a deep incision in the back is called open spine surgery;  the minimally invasive procedure is performed via several, smaller incisions requiring the use of a microscope, endoscope, and a tiny camera.

Minimally invasive surgery is by far the safer option; however, severe cases of spinal stenosis may require open spine surgery.

  1. Risks associated with surgery.

The potential risks associated with spinal stenosis surgery are:

  • Injury to spinal cord/nerves
  • Infection
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Pseudoarthrosis (this is where the bony fusion doesn’t heal as well as it should)
  • Bone graft site pain
  • Instrument breakage or failure.
  1. Surgery Outcomes.

Spinal Stenosis surgery yields good results: 80-90% of patients report alleviation of pain levels. However, it doesn’t cure the condition instantly.

Patients may require pain medication for 2-4 weeks and additional time before returning to normal physical activity.

  1. Recovery Period.

The recovery period for spinal stenosis surgery is usually three to six months, but it can last up to a year.

Your doctor will probably instruct you on carefully sitting, standing and moving, to avoid any strain on the spine.

The body needs time to heal after surgery, so it is advisable to avoid heavy lifting, sports or physical exertion during the recovery period.

Pain alleviation techniques and exercises can help here. However, be sure to consult your doctor before starting any sort of physical exercise, therapy or medication.

  1. Alternative treatments.

Non-conventional treatments for spinal stenosis include chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture. These can be undergone in conjunction with regular treatment methods.

Another proven way of treating stenosis is SPS (Spinal Cord Stimulation). Most patients having undergone the procedure report a 50 to 70 percent alleviation in pain, and studies suggest that SPS may affect the emotional perception of pain, as well.

Living with chronic pain can be punishing, and is never pleasant. Surgery is one of the ways out; however, other, non-invasive treatments can be just as effective.

Being aware of the risks, outcomes, and realities of stenosis surgery is an important part of the treatment and learning process. Never accede to a surgery unequipped with knowledge and research into the condition, its treatment, and the physician’s credentials.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Happy recovery!




Understanding Cervical Spine Surgery and Recovery

Cervical Spine Surgery and RecoveryThe reasons for needing cervical spine surgery vary from patient to patient. If your doctor is advising that you have this type of procedure, you may be wondering about the recovery process.

If your doctor has advised you to have this type of procedure, you may be wondering about the recovery process.

Keep reading to learn more.

Cervical Spine Surgery: The basics

Cervical spine surgery is not usually the first option presented to a patient by a physician. However, if other methods of treatment are not successful, you might find yourself preparing for this type of surgery due to one of the following issues:

Cervical Disc Disease

Cervical Disc Disease often occurs as part of normal wear and tear on the cervical discs which are what allow you to move your neck freely and without pain.

When these discs begin to deteriorate, they can bulge or even rupture, resulting in pain, numbness, stiffness and/or weakness in the neck, arm, shoulder and/or hand.

Spinal Stenosis

Stenosis of the spine is a narrowing of the spinal canal, most often affecting older adults, usually as the result of arthritis.

Stenosis can also be caused by cervical disc herniation in which case surgery may be an option for relief.

Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis include numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the hand or leg, and nerve issues with the bowel or bladder.

Some patients may have issues with walking or balance.

Cervical Osteoarthritis

Again, the result of normal wear and tear or the aging process itself, Cervical Osteoarthritis can result in the growth of spurs or extra cartilage on the spine.

Symptoms are generally neck stiffness and pain, shoulder pain, headaches, or grinding of the neck when turning it.

These are just a few of the spinal issues that might result in a need for cervical spine surgery.

If the causes of your symptoms are not readily known, your doctor may use pain mapping. This treatment specifically targets abnormalities shown in MRIs or X-Rays as a process of elimination.

By pain mapping, your physician can more definitively determine the root cause of your symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Depending on your diagnosis, your surgical options may include minimally invasive procedures that can go a long way in providing pain relief.

Cervical fusion surgery is one of these and can be used for the treatment of a variety of spine issues with very little recovery time and fewer risks than with traditional surgeries.

In some cases, however, revision or complex spine surgeries are necessary. A revision surgery doesn’t necessarily mean that a previous procedure was done incorrectly.

The spine is a very complex part of the body. Sometimes, even after a previously successful surgery, the spine can degenerate and cause the need for further surgeries.

Whether you’re facing cervical spine surgery for the first time, or a revision surgery, your recovery is important.

Getting better

The hospital stay required following cervical spine surgery will depend upon the invasiveness of your procedure.

Many times, an overnight hospital stay isn’t required at all and the surgery can be done on an outpatient basis.

The surgery itself could last anywhere from one to several hours. Fusion surgeries tend to take longer than disc surgeries, for example.

While you may feel immediate relief following your procedure, gaining strength back into the affected muscles and tissues will require hours of physical therapy.

If you are required to stay in the hospital for one or two nights following your surgery, here is what you can most likely expect:


As is the case following most surgeries, a nurse will monitor the circulation in your legs and feet. You may also have an Incentive Spirometer (respiratory tube) to help you breathe more easily and prevent lung infections.

A restricted diet will not likely be part of your immediate post-op regimen, unless you have other health factors that would require it.

Following most cervical spine surgery, clear liquids are allowed initially,followed by solid foods as soon as you are able to tolerate them.

Incisions and Medications

Your incision site will likely be bandaged and the dressings changed and you may receive IVs to prevent dehydration for the duration of your inpatient hospital stay.

You may be given antibiotics intravenously for several hours after the procedure to prevent infections. Pain medication is also usually available and administered through the IV.

Make sure your nurse knows what level of discomfort, if any, that you are experiencing to ensure you will be able to handle the physical therapy that you will need to begin in the coming days.

An ice pack is often used to bring down swelling and inflammation following the surgery as well.

Physical Therapy

With the aid of a physical therapist, you will likely be allowed to sit on the edge of your bed and allowed to stand.

Patients are generally encouraged to do this within the first 24 hours following surgery. Use caution and do not over-exert yourself by trying to begin moving too quickly.

You will more than likely require a cervical brace for a period of time post-operation. The type of brace and length of time you are required to wear it will also greatly depend upon the type of surgery you required.

Some of the most common braces used are:

  • Philadelphia Collars
  • Halos
  • Soft and Hard Collars
  • Sterno-occipital-mandibular-immobilization devices (SOMIs).

Finding the right treatment for you

Cervical spine surgery is a specialty area that cannot be performed by any physician.

You should consult with a neurosurgeon who specializes in spinal disorders before agreeing to any type of surgical procedure.

With the right physician and the most appropriate procedure, many patients who undergo cervical spine surgery make a full recovery with terrific results.

The only way to know for sure what options are right for you is to havea thorough examination and consultation with a skilled expert.

If you are having issues related to any of the previously mentioned conditions, or if you are a patient considering cervical spine surgery, contact us today for an appointment.

Should You Explore Thoracic Spine Surgery?

thoracic sine surgeryChronic pain is nothing to sneeze at.

In fact, over 100 million Americans suffer from some kind of chronic pain. One of the biggest problems is our backs. From neck to tailbone, our backs cause more disability than any other single problem.

According to a recent study, back pain, and specifically lower back pain accounts for 1 in 10 people being disabled across the globe.

But lower back pain, while the most common, isn’t the only kind of back pain experienced. Thankfully less common, thoracic, or middle back pain can be far more severe and debilitating.

When your middle back hurts, you may feel like you’d do anything to make it better, even surgery. But thoracic spine surgery should be considered very carefully before this drastic measure is taken.

Understanding the other options for thoracic pain and the circumstances when thoracic spine surgery should be considered will help you to make an informed decision about this major procedure.

What Causes Thoracic Pain

You may be wondering why thoracic pain is less common than lower back pain.

This is because the thoracic region – located between the bottom of the neck and the top of the lower back – is well supported. It has to be.

It has to be. There are a lot of important things in the body located in that area.

The vertebra in the thoracic region connects to the ribs, which as you know wrap around and connect to the breastbone in the front. This creates a protective cage around some of the most important organs in your body, like the heart and the liver.

This support means that most damage to this area is either straightforward overuse or poor posture, or caused by major trauma.

With strain or posture issues medication and physical therapy should help. Because the back does so much to support the body, it can take a while for it to heal.

The real problem for thoracic pain comes from the other sources. Major trauma, like a fall, car accident, or getting hit in the back create significant problems in the middle region of the back. There is also the possibility for pain to come from spinal curves, like scoliosis.

When Should You Consider Thoracic Spine Surgery

The short answer to that question is “Only after you’ve tried everything else”.

This can be very frustrating to someone who has experienced middle back pain for a long time. There are a number of potential treatments, from pills to shots to physical therapy, and trying most of them can seem overwhelming when dealing with constant pain.

However, the very same thing that causes thoracic pain to be rare is what causes surgery to be so difficult. Because the thoracic region supports much of the body and helps to protect major organs along with the ribs, surgery can cause more problems than it solves.

For instance, recovery time can be much longer than surgery in other parts of the back. And almost all thoracic spine surgery requires manipulating parts of the body that are important, like the spinal cord and organs.

In recent years, less invasive options have become available. If you and your doctor decide that thoracic spine surgery is the right option for you, make sure you understand the types of surgery available.

When you’re in pain it feels like nothing else matters. This is doubly true when your back hurts. Your back is part of everything you do, so whether it’s lower back, neck or thoracic pain, you just want the pain to go away.

But, especially when considering the major surgery that’s involved with thoracic pain, you should make an informed decision and know that everything else has failed to work, first.

Revision Spine Surgery

Revision Spine SurgeryEvery year, almost 600,000 Americans undergo back surgery.

Some surgeries are the result of trauma. Other patients are hoping the surgery will end their chronic back pain.

The unfortunate truth is, for many, the pain continues even after surgery.

A study published in Spine revealed that almost half of back surgery patients have post-surgery pain.

The study examined more than 700 patients who underwent surgery for lumbar fusion.

Use of painkillers increased after surgery for 41 percent of patients. After two years post-surgery, only 26 percent of patients had returned to work.

Of those patients, 27 percent had to have additional surgeries.

Revision spine surgery is common.

Surgery is always a risk. For some people, having additional surgeries to reverse effects of a previous surgery sounds like an unnecessary risk.

But if you’re living with excruciating back pain, it’s a risk worth taking. If you’re still not convinced, keep reading to learn 8 reasons why revision spine surgery may be for you.

1. You’re experiencing complications with hardware put in place during a previous surgery

Various hardware is used for some back surgeries. This is especially common in surgeries aimed at re-fusing the spine.

Screws may be put into place to apply pressure to the spine and promote fusion.

Like any piece of hardware, those used in back surgeries may fail from time to time. If they aren’t placed correctly, they may not aid with fusion, or they may cause discomfort for the patient.

In either case, surgery may be necessary.

Without effective hardware, it is unlikely that the initial surgery will be successful. Therefore, revision spinal surgery would be the only chance to treat the injury and reduce pain.

2. Your bones did not re-fuse post-surgery

While the risk of hardware failure can be a concern, without screw, clamps, or other devices some patients may not heal properly after surgery. Proper fusion between bones requires pressure. Hardware can assist with this.

If your spine doesn’t re-fuse after surgery, you may have needed extra pressure.

With revision spine surgery, hardware may be added to help promote fusion.

Without the surgery, healing is unlikely in this case. As a result, a patient may experience the same pain that existed before the initial surgery.

3. You didn’t follow post-surgery recommendations and a complication arose

Patients sometimes choose not to follow all post-surgery recommendations from their doctor. Doing so may render the initial surgery ineffective.

For instance, not resting following some back surgeries will prevent proper healing.

Even smoking or taking certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, after lumbar fusion surgery can cause your bones not to fuse properly.

4. You’re experiencing adjacent segment degeneration

Some patients never experience pain relief following a back surgery. Others don’t need revision spine surgery until several years later when the pain returns.

That is the case with patients who experience adjacent segment degeneration, or ASD.

ASD involves anatomical changes to the spine after surgery that cause pain.

Surgeons and experts aren’t sure whether ASD is the result of pre-existing conditions worsening or other causes.

This condition is most common after spinal fusion surgeries.

A patient could go two or more years with no pain before ASD occurs. When it does set it, it can be very painful. Revision spine surgery is often the only treatment option.

5. You’ve had a second disc herniation

When a patient undergoes surgery for a herniated disc, the surgeon will often remove onlypart of the damaged disc. Sometimes, the remaining part may herniate as well.

When this occurs, a revision spine surgery will be necessary. During surgery, the surgeon will remove the remaining damaged pieces of the disc. Until those parts are gone, pain will continue.

6. A preexisting problem has persisted or worsened post-surgery

Surgery for deformities such as scoliosis and kyphosis may be onlytemporary fixes.

Depending on the patient’s condition, an initial back surgery may only temporarily reduce pain or deterioration.

Non-surgical treatments may help reduce pain or keep a condition from worsening. But these treatments are not always enough.

Some patients may need surgeries every few years to keep up with the deterioration.

Additionally, conditions that cause poor bone quality may lead to deterioration and pain after surgery. Sometimes, revision spine surgery can reverse the effects these conditions have on treated areas.

7. You develop an infection or nerve pain after surgery

Infections are not uncommon following any kind of surgery. The causes for them vary, as do the complications that infections can cause.

If you develop an infection around a piece of hardware used for back surgery, a revision spine surgery might be necessary to remove or replace it.

Another complication that isn’t uncommon following back surgery is nerve pain.

Nerves may become compressed after an operation on the spine. In this case, the pain can be severe. Medications and other non-surgery treatments may reduce pain, but won’t fix the problem.

8. Your initial surgery wasn’t successful

Surgery for chronic pain isn’t always an exact science. Sometimes, surgery is performed on the wrong site. In this case, the patient still experiences pain.

A patient’s initial diagnosis could be wrong. Other times, the pain a patient is feeling is from several injuries or conditions. As a result, one surgery isn’t enough.

In either case, revision spine surgery may be necessary.

Are you a candidate for revision spine surgery?

There are many treatment options for back pain. Sometimes, pain can be treated by non-surgical techniques. Other times, the only effective way to treat conditions and reduce pain is through additional surgeries.

If you are experiencing any of the above complications, you may be a candidate for revision spine surgery.

If revision spine surgery is required, a minimally invasive procedure may be possible. Other times, however,a more complex surgery is necessary.

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