back surgery

7 Tips to Have a Speedy Recovery After Back Surgery

In 2017, 54% of adults in the US had suffered neck or back pain for five years or more.

Back pain is something that affects millions of people every year. And in some cases, the only solution is to turn to surgery.

Back surgery can help to alleviate the painful symptoms. But as with any invasive surgery, there will be a lengthy recovery period. There are steps you can take to minimize the length of your recovery, however.

So read on as we take a look at seven practical tips to have a speedy recovery from back surgery.

1. Listen to Your Doctor’s Advice

The first and most important thing you should do after any type of surgery is to listen to your doctor’s advice.

Your surgeon will have a great deal experience with people recovering from the same surgery that you have undergone. They will also have years of medical training. They will be able to provide you with a plan for your recovery, with realistic expectations of the path your recovery will take.

Make sure that you follow that plan to the letter, and don’t try to take on too much too early. You could find that you end up setting your recovery back.

2. Manage Your Pain

Even if your surgery was intended to reduce your pain, your recovery is unlikely to be completely pain-free.

There are steps you can take to help minimize the pain following back surgery. Pain medication is the most obvious, but should only be taken as prescribed by your doctor. Hot or cold packs can also help to reduce pain but make sure that you do not get your surgery site wet until it is safe to do so.

If it is recommended that you wear a brace, this can also help to reduce pain.

Your surgeon should advise you what to expect in terms of pain after your surgery. If you are experiencing pain outside of their expectations, then you should contact your doctor. 

3. Adapt Your Home

Recovering from back surgery is all about giving your body the best chance to heal.

So make sure that you do as much as possible to take the strain off you back within your daily life. Making simple changes to your home can really help to speed up the healing process. For example, try moving your bed to the ground floor to minimize the number of stairs you need to climb each day. 

Consider using a raised toilet seat to reduce the strain on your back, or a commode if your bathroom is not on the ground floor. Bath seats and reacher grabbers are also very useful items to use during recovery.

4. Get Some Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep can really help to speed up the recovery process.

Sleep not only helps your body to heal but will also keep you feeling positive and motivated throughout your recovery. But getting the right amount of sleep can be easier said than done when suffering from post-operative pain. Try to set yourself a regular sleep schedule so that you go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

You can also make use of pain medication before bedtime to help you be able to sleep more easily.

5. Ask for Support

Whilst you are recovering from your surgery, there will be a lot of tasks that are beyond you.

This is where friends and family can play a huge part. Simple errands such as going to the shops or cleaning the house can be a challenge when you’re recovering from back surgery. If your friends or family can help out with these chores, it will make your recovery both easier and quicker.

The most important thing to do is ask for help. If you don’t, you are robbing your friends and family of the opportunity of helping you when you need it most.

6. Make the Most of Physical Therapy

You may be required to do physical therapy as part of your recovery plan.

If this is the case, it is likely that you will be given some exercises to do in your own time at home. It is vitally important that you follow the regime that your doctor has set out. You may think that skipping a few session won’t do much harm. 

But it is likely to delay your complete recovery from your surgery if you don’t follow the plan properly.

The types of exercises you do, as well as the intensity and duration, are likely to change through the course of your recovery. Make sure that you are doing the right exercises at the right level of intensity if you want your recovery time to be short.

7. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Whilst you are recovering it is important to give your body as much help as possible.

That means trying to be as healthy as you can. Eating properly will provide your body with the fuel and resources it needs to help you recover. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a must, as are foods that are high in protein.

Try to steer clear of any junk food for the duration of your recovery.

Drinking and smoking should also be avoided whilst your body is healing. Studies show that smoking can slow the rate of bone healing. And alcohol could be a dangerous mix when combined with your pain medication. 

Finally try to exercise as much as you can, within your doctor’s recommendations. Excess weight is one of the key factors in causing back pain in the first place.

Are You Considering Back Surgery?

If you’re considering back surgery then we may be able to help. 

We perform minimally invasive spine surgery that has several benefits, including less post-operative pain, less soft muscle and tissue damage, and reduced risk of infection. We can treat conditions ranging from sciatica and herniated discs to bone spurs and arthritis of the spine. We also offer pain management procedures to help alleviate chronic back pain.

We have locations in both Hackettstown and Newton. Contact us today to book a consultation.

spinal surgery

6 Important Reasons You Should Consider Spinal Surgery

If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. 80% of adults say they’ve experienced lower back pain at some point in their lives. 

In fact, back pain is only second to the common cold for the top reason people miss work.

So, this much prevalence must mean it’s a natural occurrence that very few can escape, right? Hardly. 

There are many reasons why people experience back pain. Slipped discs, pulled or strained muscles, and sciatica are only a few.

Most people can take it easy for a few days or apply heat and ice and be fine. Others aren’t so lucky. No matter what they do, they never get any relief.

For chronic back pain sufferers, spinal surgery is an option. While no one gets excited at the thought of going under the knife, there are several benefits. 

We’re taking a look at seven reasons you should consider spinal surgery below. 

1. Takes Pressure Off Nerves

Although, that is a very common cause of back pain. Pinched nerves are often treated with home remedies

But when you have a disc herniation or spinal stenosis, it can cause severe pain. These conditions compress the nerves in your spinal column. It leads to numbness/tingling, weakness, and even lack of bladder/bowel control.

In extreme cases, stenosis leads to paralysis. Spinal surgery relieves this pressure and gets you functioning at a normal level. 

2. Realign Crooked Spine

Scoliosis is the most well-known condition that causes a curvature of the spine. Between six and nine million Americans suffer from scoliosis.

It’s mostly diagnosed in children. Treatment usually involves exercise and is successful. But every year, 38,000 people undergo spinal fusion surgery.

Scoliosis isn’t the only condition that causes a spinal curve. Flat-back syndrome and kyphosis also affect the natural curvature.

Your doctor will likely recommend physical therapy and other non-invasive measures before considering surgery. 

3. Stabilize Instability

When healthy, your spine protects, supports, and provides structure for your body. When your spine becomes unstable, sometimes surgery is the only way to stabilize it.

Unstable spines happen as a result of different inflictions. Often, it’s the result of an injury — like a fracture. But an extreme disc injury will also cause instability.

An unstable spine isn’t only painful — it leaves the body vulnerable. 

4. You Can’t Function Properly

We rely on our backs for almost every function we go through on a daily basis. This puts a lot of pressure on our spine.

As we age, we lose mobility. Most of the time, this starts from our backs getting weakened over time. Remember, our backs are our support system.

When they lose stability, we have trouble working, walking, sitting, and even sleeping. This causes pain that can move into the legs. In some cases, neurologic problems from a pinched nerve emerge.

Fusing unstable parts of the spine through various surgical techniques can improve function.

5. Improves Your Quality of Life 

When your back pain reaches a point when you can’t function, it impacts your quality of life. Not only are you kept from providing for your family, but you’re inhibited from enjoying what life has to offer.

Severe back pain keeps you from playing golf, enjoying time with your family, and even going on vacation. It’s difficult to sit still in a car, airplane, or cruise ship. 

With new technology emerging, minimally-invasive procedures can give you a new lease on life. You’ll be able to enjoy activities that were once an impossibility. 

6. Your Condition Is Getting Worse

Many spinal conditions get worse over time. Degenerative disc disease is one of them. It’s caused by everyday wear and tear on your spine. 

This, in particular, will start causing pain in your legs. You’ll have chronic lower back pain, ranging from mild to moderate.

Other progressive conditions worsen in the same way. Your doctor will monitor your progress and discuss surgery when there aren’t any other options. This leads us to the final reason for considering surgery.

7. Other Treatments Have Failed

Unless you have a severe injury, your doctor will usually only suggest spinal surgery when other treatments aren’t working. There is a risk that comes with spinal surgery. A reputable physician will try other pain management procedures first. 

It’s important that you find a doctor that you can trust to treat your pain. They should discuss all your treatment options with you. This includes physical therapy, spinal injections, and other procedures.

What Procedures Are Available?

Most people consider the thought of surgery scary. When it’s spinal surgery, this fear surfaces tenfold. The good news is, back surgery isn’t what it used to be.

There are several minimally-invasive procedures now available. Yes, some invasive surgeries are still required for major spinal injuries. But, surgeons are finding new ways to limit the recovery time while preventing future issues. 

Some of the most popular minimally-invasive surgeries performed today include:

  • Facet Thermal Ablation (radiofrequency rhizotomy)
  • High-frequency stimulation
  • Spinal cord stimulation
  • Stem cell disc regeneration
  • Endoscopic spinal discectomy and decompression

These procedures are effective for treating pain. They’re also not so cumbersome that you’ll end up on bed rest for weeks.

Pain mapping is also a newer, more usual way to diagnose back pain. MRI, CT scans and X-rays are commonly used with great success. These methods of imaging help determine where the pain is.

But, it doesn’t determine why you’re experiencing pain. Pain mapping works to get to the root of the issue.

Your doctor will inject a medicine into or on the abnormal structure. If the pain stops, they can work on treating the abnormality. 

If the pain doesn’t decrease or stop, they know something else is causing your back pain. This also helps them figure out what the next course of action should be.

Are You Considering Spinal Surgery?

If you’re considering spinal surgery, the most important thing you can do is choose the right doctor. They’ll exhaust all non-surgical treatments before scheduling you to go under the knife. They’ll also use the least invasive techniques available. 

If you’re in North Jersey, and in need of a spinal specialist, contact us. Dr. Spivak is an expert and pioneer in the field of minimally-invasive and laser spine surgery.

We’ll be happy to schedule you for a comprehensive assessment.  

spine surgery

7 Great Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Undergoing Spine Surgery

When you live with chronic back pain, you would do anything for relief. 

And like 600,000 other Americans, you may decide that spine surgery is the right route for you. 

But before you agree to go into the operating room, you need to ask your doctor the right questions. Here are seven questions you need to ask to be prepared for your surgery. 

1. What Type of Surgery Do You Recommend?

There are many different types of spine surgery out there. It’s important to understand why your doctor is recommending this particular type of surgery. 

Ask your surgeon to explain the procedure and describe it to you in plain English. 

For example, you should find out where in the spinal column the surgery will focus and how big the incision will be. You’ll also want to know whether the surgeon will come in through the back (posteriorly) or the front (anteriorly). 

2. What Will the Procedure Do?

After the type of surgery, the next most important question is what the procedure will do. 

This is for two reasons. First, the doctor should have a clear understanding of what’s causing your pain. After all, if they don’t know what’s causing the pain, how can you expect them to recommend the right surgery to treat it? 

Second, if the doctor does know what’s causing your pain, they should be able to elaborate on what this procedure will do to alleviate your pain. 

3. Why This Procedure? Are There Alternatives?

This question goes hand-in-hand with the previous question. 

If your doctor has an understanding of your pain, they should be able to explain why this procedure is the best choice out of all the other available options. They should also be willing to explain what the other options are. 

In most cases, spinal surgery is viewed as the last option only after other, more conservative, non-surgical back treatments have failed. Ask your doctor if there are any other non-surgical options you could try. 

For example, if you have a bulging disc, you may benefit from ice and heat therapy. You may also want to consider stem cell treatments–it’s a quick, minimally invasive procedure that has been shown to slow or stop disc degeneration. 

4. What are the Benefits of This Operation?

When you ask your doctor why you should consider this procedure, you should also talk to them about the benefits of this particular operation. 

The most obvious benefit, of course, is relief from your chronic back pain. But the spine is more than just a row of bones–it’s the body’s central support structure, and the right procedure should correct a number of problems to improve your overall wellbeing. 

Ask your doctor about the benefits in terms of pain relief, restored function, mobility, and independence. Would the surgery allow you to return to work pain-free? Will you be able to walk upright for the first time in a while? 

Don’t forget to ask how long the benefits will last. If you’re only looking at a month of benefits after a long recovery, it may not be worth the time and money. 

5. What are the Risks of This Operation?

No one wants to think about surgical complications and risks. But it’s vital to understand the potential hazards of any operation before you agree to it. 

All surgeries carry some degree of risk, including things like: 

  • Potential infection
  • Anesthesia complications, including bad reactions to anesthesia
  • Excess bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Delayed healing
  • Difficulty breathing after surgery
  • A bad reaction to implants, transfusions, or grafts
  • Injury during surgery
  • Paralysis
  • Poor results following surgery
  • Scarring after surgery

If you’re worried about anesthesia, it’s a good idea to talk to your anesthesiologist beforehand. The anesthesiologist, not the surgeon, is the one who will give you pain medication before surgery, so it’s important to talk to them about the potential risks of anesthesia in your case. 

Don’t be afraid to be blunt with your doctor about your worries, and don’t be shy when asking them how they’ll deal with potential complications during and after surgery. 

Remember, no one has to undergo surgery against their will. You always have the right to refuse surgery if you’re not comfortable with it. 

6. What are the Chances of Success?

When you talk to your doctor about benefits and risk, it’s important to bring up your chances of success after surgery. 

The success of any surgery is contingent on several factors. This includes anything from your medical history to your reaction to the anesthesia to the doctors and nurses working on you to how your body reacts to the surgery. 

This is to say that every patient is different, and no surgery has a 100% guaranteed success rate. Your doctor has to be honest about your chances for success based on the severity of the problem, your medical history, and the relative risk of the procedure. 

If a particular operation doesn’t have a high success rate, it’s important to consider whether the potential for success is worth the risk (and cost) of poor results. 

7. What Will My Recovery Look Like?

Finally, make sure to ask your doctor what your recovery will look like. 

Highly invasive operations typically have longer recovery periods. It takes longer to heal from a broken arm than a paper cut, and the same basic principle applies to spinal surgery. 

Ask your doctor how long they expect the recovery to take and what your limitations will be. For example, will you need assistance at home after surgery? For how long? How long will you have limitations following surgery? Will you need physical therapy or medications? 

This also applies to work and your personal life. When will you be able to drive again? What about lifting things, like kids or an infant? When can you return to work? When can you have sexual activity again? 

You’d be surprised by how much your life is affected when you can’t move freely. Make sure you understand how this will affect your life (and for how long) so that you can plan accordingly. 

If You Need Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

If you’ve asked all the right questions, or if you’re looking for the right doctor to perform your spine surgery, you’ve come to the right place. 

Not sure if you’re a good candidate for surgery? Read this guide to see if you should consider surgery as a treatment option. 

Want to talk about your options? Click here to book an appointment online. 

stenosis surgery

How to Quickly Recover From Stenosis Surgery

Stenosis surgery is one of those “both a blessing and a curse” situations. For the estimated 35 million Americans with spinal stenosis, the surgery can be a way to conquer chronic pain. At the same time, you have to go through the surgical recovery before you can enjoy those results.

As important as the surgery itself is, few patients realize how much of an impact their recovery period has. It’s also something you have more control over than you recognize.

To make your stenosis surgery recovery as smooth and efficient as possible, try these tips.

Tips for Recovering from Stenosis Recovery

Every surgery patient wants to heal as soon as possible so they can get back to enjoying their daily life. For spinal stenosis surgery patients, these tips can help.

1. Follow Instructions to a T

We list this first because it’s the absolute most important thing you can do. Before surgery, your doctor will give you detailed instructions for pre-surgical and post-surgical care.

This will include what medications to stop or start taking and when. It will also explain how and when to care for your incision, how much you need to limit your activity, and much more.

Every surgery and every patient is unique, and your surgeon’s instructions are based on your specific needs. It’s vital that you follow them to the letter. That includes attending any and all recommended physical therapy sessions.

If you have questions about your spine surgery or your post-surgical instructions, always call your surgeon to ask. Your health isn’t worth the risk of making incorrect assumptions.

 

2. Prepare Your Home in Advance

The road to a fast and smooth recovery starts before your procedure. While you may spend a few days in the hospital after surgery, you’ll spend most of your recovery at home.

One important step is to get rid of anything that you need to avoid during your recovery. For instance, give away your NSAID pain relievers or lock them away somewhere inconvenient. You won’t be able to take them after surgery because they can interfere with your healing process.

On top of these pain relievers, get rid of any tobacco or vaping products you may have in the house. The nicotine has a serious impact on your body’s healing ability. Getting the nicotine out of the house will help you avoid the temptation.

Another great way to prepare your house is to think about the items you’ll need in your first weeks of recovery. Move these items so that they are all easy to reach around your waist or chest level. You can injure yourself if you try to bend down or reach up too high to get something.

3. Have a Helper

A great support system is a vital part of a healthy surgery recovery. You need people around you who can give you emotional support while also helping you with your day-to-day tasks.

If you live alone, it’s best to have a friend or family member stay with you for the first several days. You may need their help in the middle of the night with medications or trips to the bathroom.

It’s a good idea to have several people who are able to help. This lets them divide the responsibilities so one caregiver doesn’t get overwhelmed. After all, you don’t want to damage your relationship with your caregiver in the post-surgical process.

4. Walk It Off

One of the most important things you can do for your recovery is to stay active after surgery. You want to get up and move around at least every few hours.

This is most important because it lowers your risk of post-surgical blood clots, which can be life-threatening. It also helps your body maintain a healthy blood flow, which helps the healing process. 

Of course, it’s important that you don’t overdo it. Start small by strolling between rooms in your house. Ask you get stronger, you can progress to walks down the block or down the street.

5. Listen to Your Body

Speaking of trying not to overdo your activity, remember that pain is there for a reason. It’s your body telling you that it’s time to stop.

Recovering from surgery isn’t like exercising. You won’t heal faster or get better results if you “work through the pain.” Instead, you risk a serious injury and the added stress can actually slow down your healing rate.

This applies to any action you’re doing after surgery. If you’re trying to reach for something and you start to feel pain, ask someone for help instead.

6. Get Some Zzzs

Plenty of patients underestimate the role that sleep plays in the body’s recovery process. They think, “I spend most of the day resting, so why does my body need more rest through sleep?”

In reality, there are a variety of tasks your body performs while you sleep, and that includes healing. Getting plenty of sleep will give your body the time it needs to heal.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions about sleep as well. You may need to sleep at specific angles or avoid certain positions. While it might be hard to sleep in a non-routine way at first, stick with it and your body will adjust.

7. Don’t Be a Hero

Another common problem for stenosis surgery patients is that they think that the less they take their pain medication, the better.

Forgoing your pain medication won’t make you heal any faster. In fact, it can slow down the process because it puts you under more stress.

Instead of trying to “fight through it,” take your pain medications as prescribed or when you need them. While we recognize that patients are worried about opioid addiction, this is very rare for people who use their medication as prescribed for a short-term need like surgery.

It’s also important that you don’t try to “find a middle ground” by taking over-the-counter pain relievers instead of your prescribed medication. Most of those pain relievers have a risk of bleeding after surgery, making them dangerous for post-surgical patients.

Creating a Smooth Stenosis Surgery Recovery

Spinal stenosis surgery is an effective treatment that can open the door to a less painful life for stenosis patients. How you heal makes all the difference, though. To help your body in its journey toward a healthier life, follow the tips above.

If you’re still in the planning stages and you want to find out if stenosis surgery can help you, schedule an appointment at our spine center.

 

artificial disk replacement

Are You a Good Candidate for Artificial Disk Replacement?

Chronic back pain will affect 80-90% of people at some point in their lives. Almost 2% of our country’s workforce deals with debilitating back pain. Many conditions can cause pain and require surgery.

When your pain becomes so severe that you cant control it with conservative treatments, you’ll need to be evaluated by a spine surgeon.

Spinal surgery has advanced a lot in the last few years, including FDA improved devices that can replace damaged spinal disks.

But the conditions that disk replacement surgery can treat are limited by a variety of factors. To learn more about artificial disk replacement and whether or not you would be a good candidate, read on.

What is Artificial Disk Replacement?

Before we talk about what makes a person a good candidate for this surgery, you should understand exactly what this surgery is.

Artificial disk replacement surgery is when worn or damaged disk material between the small bones in your spine are removed and replaced with synthetic or artificial disks. The goal of this procedure is to relieve back pain and maintain normal motion.

In other procedures, like spinal fusion, your movement would be much more limited.

Although many people will deal with low back pain in their lives, most people won’t need surgery to correct it. Surgery is only considered when back pain doesn’t improve with treatment.

For patients who have tried all nonsurgical options and are still in pain, lumbar fusion surgery is the most common option for treating lower back pain. Fusion is pretty much what it sounds like, a “welding” process that fuses the painful vertebrae together so they heal in a single, solid bone.

Lumbar fusion helps many people, but the results vary. Also, some people who heal in the most ideal way still have no improvement in their back pain.

Some doctors believe that this is due to the fact that fusion prevents normal motion in the spine. Because of this, artificial disk replacement has come forward as an alternative treatment option.

Artifical disk replacement gained FDA approval in 2004 and over the past years, scientists discovered new designs that are being developed today.

Who is a Good Candidate for Artifical Disk Replacement?

In order to make sure you are the best possible candidate for disk replacement, your surgeon might want you to go through a few tests. Some of these tests include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans
  • Discography
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans
  • X-rays

The information they learn from these tests will help your surgeon determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for the surgery as well as pinpointing the source of your back pain.

As beneficial as this surgery is for many, it is not appropriate for everyone with low back pain. For the most part, good candidates have a few characteristics in common. They are:

  • Back pain caused by one or two intervertebral disks in the lumbar spine
  • No significant facet joint disease
  • No bony compression on spinal nerves
  • Not excessively overweight
  • No major surgery has been performed on the lumbar pine before
  • No deformity of the spine, like scoliosis

As long as you meet these criteria, and are in otherwise good health, you should qualify for the surgery.

The Procedure

For the most part, artificial disk replacement surgery will take between 2 and 3 hours.

Your surgeon will approach your lower back from the front through an incision in your abdomen. This way, the organs and blood vessels must move to the side, but it also allows your surgeon to access your spine without disturbing the nerves.

Typically, a vascular surgeon will assist the orthopedic surgeon with opening and exposing the disk space.

During the procedure, the surgeon will take your problematic disk out and insert an artificial disk into that space.

Artificial Disk Design

Some disk replacement devices make up the center of the intervertebral disk while leaving the outer ring in place, but this technology is still in the investigative process.

Mostly, the artificial disk will replace the outer ring and the center with a mechanical device that will stimulate the spine to function.

There are a bunch of different disk designs, all of them unique but maintaining a similar goal of reproducing the size and function of a normal disk.

There are disks made of metal and some made of metal and plastic both. This is similar to joint replacements in the knee and hip. These disks are made with medical grade plastic and medical grade cobalt chromium or titanium alloy.

Make sure you and your surgeon decide what disk is best for you.

Recovery

For the most part, patients stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days after the surgery. The length of your stay depends on how well controlled your pain is and whether or not you can function.

Patients are encouraged to stand and walk the day after surgery. With artificial disk replacement, bone healing isn’t required after the replacement, so usually, patients are encouraged to move in their midsection too. Early motion in this area can lead to faster recovery.

You will perform your basic routine during the first several weeks after surgery, just make sure you don’t hyperextend your back.

Outcomes

For the most part, patients can expect improvement of lower back pain in weeks or months after surgery.

This procedure will improve, but not completely eliminate, back pain. Make sure you have realistic expectations before going into surgery

Artificial Disk Replacement Research on the Horizon

The future of this procedure will likely have advancements in implant design and tools for diagnosing pain sources. It’ll also include ways to return the disk to normal function without needing to add any biomechanical device.

Artificial disk replacement isn’t considered a new technology, but the research continues on the outcomes of the procedure.

If you think you would be a good candidate for this procedure, visit us today to learn more.

6 Signs of Herniated Disk or Slipped Disk

 

  1. Leg pain – this may be pain radiating down the back or the side of the leg to the knee or foot.   Sometimes this pain is felt in the front or inner thigh or even the groin.  The pain may worsen with straightening the leg or siting up.   Arthritis pain is different from slipped disk.  arthritis pain  is usually only found in the hip, knees or ankle and does not radiate down the whole leg.
  2. Numbness and tingling – this may be felt as pins and needles, burning or decreased or absent feeling in the area of the pain or beyond it.  Sometimes numbness may appear without pain.
  3. Weakness – the leg may give out or drag.  You may have problems getting up from sitting, stepping onto a stool or moving your foot.
  4. Reflex loss – patients may loose reflexes at their knee or ankle or from the bottom of their foot.  Usually this is picked up from your doctor.
  5. Walking – the leg may drag or catch on the floor, you may have to lift the leg high to avoid this
  6. Bowel and bladder – if the disk compresses the cauda equina (the nerves to the bowel and bladder)  the bowel and bladder may stop working.  You may retention of pee or bowel movements or become incontinent of them.  If this happens you should seek medical attention immediately.

About Dr. Carl Spivak

Dr. Spivak is the president of Executive Spine Surgery and has offices in New York and New Jersey.  He is well known for his cutting-edge, minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgeries and regularly teaches courses throughout the USA.  For more information please call 908-452-5612 or click on schedule-an-appointment.

6 Best Treatments for Back Pain

1. Physical therapy focusing on core strength and flexibility.

2. Weight loss.  Weight loss alleviates back pain by reducing stress and strain on your back and decreases damage to disks and joints.

3. Steroid injections may relieve back pain.  Steroids and local anesthetics work to decrease inflammation, washout chemicals that cause pain and directly reduce pain often breaking the destructive pain cycle.  Steroid injections are an effective treatment for conditions that cause back pain such as arthritis of the spine (called facet arthropathy) and disk disease.

4. Stem Cell Therapy.  Disk regeneration is a new therapy where stem cells taken from your hip are injected  into your damaged disk to regenerate the disk.  The stem cells make new disk cells increasing the fluid and size of the disk reducing back pain and suffering.

5. Endoscopic Laser Discectomy.  As the disk wears out, or degenerates, it turns black on MRI, collapses, bulges and may tear causing back pain.  Removal of the degenerated disk and treatment of the annular tear has been found to reduce back pain and suffering.   The discectomy and annuloplasty can be done with the spinal endoscope.  A scope the size of a pencil can be placed through an incision the size of your finger nail.  The disk is found and repaired under direct visualization.

6. Endoscopic Fusion. Painful degenerated disks, spinal instability, spondylolithesis may lead to severe back and/or leg pain.  This pain can be disabling.  Patients that have failed other treatments may be a candidate for fusion surgery.  Today fusion surgery can be done through a very small incision with the aid of an spinal endoscopic to reduce soft tissue and bone damage and quicken recovery.

ABOUT US:

Dr. Spivak is the President of Executive Spine Surgery and is a leader in Endoscopic Laser Spine Surgery.  He see patients in New York and New Jersey and teaches doctors his advanced surgical techniques throughout the United States.  For more information please call 908-452-5612 or click schedule-an-appointment.

Can spinal epidural steroid injection hurt my brain?

Spinal epidural injections are very common treatments for back pain and sciatica.  Sciatica is leg pain running down the back of your leg caused by a slipped disk pinching a nerve.  Imagine the disk is a marshmallow (even though it really isn’t).  The disk like a marshmallow may expand out if you squeeze it.

HOMEWORK:

You can try this at home – take a marshmallow and squeeze it from the top and bottom.  See how the marshmallow expands out as you flatten it.  This is similar to a herniated disk .  The bulging disk may pinch a nerve causing the nerve to swell up and get “hot” called inflammation causing back and leg pain.

Spinal epidural steroid injections are the placement of steroid medicine into the spine onto the hot and swollen nerve to cool down the inflammation and relieve the pain and suffering.  Think of it like putting an aspirin on the nerve.

Even though spinal injections are generally safe there are risks and side effects to all medical procedures. These include bleeding, infection, dural puncture or “wet tap” causing headaches and nerve damage.  Patients may also experience increased pain, headaches, red face, anxiety, problems sleeping, fever, high blood sugar, decreased immunity, stomach ulcers, severe arthritis, cataracts and menstrual irregularities.

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION the most common way spinal epidural steroid injections affect your brain is through headaches.  Usually these headaches will resolve with time.  If they are related to “wet tap” you may require bed rest, caffeine, fluids and rarely blood patch.  Blood patch is the injection of blood into the spine to stop spinal fluid leak and “plug” the hole from the “wet tap”.

ABOUT DR CARL SPIVAK

Dr. Spivak is a neurosurgeon fellowship trained in minimally invasive spine surgery and spinal epidural steroid injections.  He has practices in New York and New Jersey.  For more information on spinal epidural injections or laser endoscopic spine surgery please call Executive Spine Surgery at 908-452-5612 or click schedule-an-appointment.

When can I have Sex after back surgery?

Patients often ask when they can safely have sex after back surgery.  This is a common concern for the patient and for their significant other.

Often their sex life has already been affected.  Back pain may interfere with intimacy, decrease sex drive (libido) and interfere with sexual enjoyment.  Patients with pelvic numbness or nerve dysfunction may feel less stimulation and pleasure or have difficulties developing or sustaining an erection or orgasm. Even worse, sex might aggravate the back injury, causing a great deal of pain and ultimately making sex unpleasant and unwanted.  Back pain can also lead to depression or be associated with depression, another factor that can affect your sex life.

No wonder people are concerned!

I am happy to tell you that sex is safe after back surgery.  For patients undergoing traditional back surgery, doctors commonly recommended waiting 6 to 12 weeks before resuming sexual activity. These operations involved a large midline incision, muscle retraction and bone resection, and patients suffered intense pain from muscle damage. These surgeries are very different from today’s advanced endoscopic spinal surgery. Endoscopic surgery is done through a tiny incision the size of your finger nail, using a little high definition video camera the size of a pen! There is minimal skin, muscle and bone damage.  Most people recover in a few weeks and the incision is small and less likely to be torn open.

The great advancements that have been made in minimally invasive back surgery means that patients treated endoscopically can start having sex again after only 2 weeks if their incision is healing well, their pain has resolved or significantly improved, and their sex drive has returned.  The healing time will increase for other more invasive surgeries or surgeries involving spinal instrumentation.  As with all activity, the patient should approach sex in a safe, gentle manner and take on a passive role. The patient should avoid heavy lifting, bending and twisting. They should stop if pain develops. As an old colleague of mine told his patients, “No shaking the trailer!”

They may benefit from small pillow under their low back, stacked pillows under their knees to bend the hips and support the legs, and taking a well-supported position.  They may also benefit from taking pain medication prior to sex. Their partner should avoid putting their full weight on them.  The patient may have less pain starting with missionary position, lying down on their side or standing and bending over a chair.

Since all patients and surgeries are different, you should discuss your return to sexual activity with your doctor. Though you might feel awkward bringing it up, don’t worry. It’s a very normal, healthy concern.

 

Should I hire a nurse after spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion surgery is the joining of one backbone to another backbone (bony vertebrae to another bony vertebrae).  This is usually done for instability, that is when the spine is weak and falling apart.  Spinal fusions can be large, painful and debilitating procedures, but hiring a nurse is not usually not necessarily required after lumbar fusion surgery.   That said each person, spinal disease and surgery is different.  If you are very concerned you could set up just in case.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) tends to be less painful and debilitating then open surgeries. Multilevel surgery is more painful then single level surgery.  Minimally invasive surgery is less painful then open traditional surgery because there is less tissue destruction.  In traditional surgery there is a large skin incision, signifiant retraction of the back muscles and a lot of bone removal resulting in severe pain.

Tissue damage is minimized with minimally invasive surgery.  The skin incision is small instead of large.  The muscles are dilated (pushed apart) rather than retracted.  Muscle retraction damages muscles producing scar tissue and weakness resulting in pain.  Little if any bone needs to be removed during minimally invasive fusion (this is especially true for endoscopic lumbar interbody fusion (ELIF).  These benefits results in less pain then with traditional fusion surgery.

For more information on spinal fusion click Spinal Fusion and Options

For more information on how Executive Spine Surgery can help you please call 908-452-5612 or inquire at schedule-an-appointment.