back and spine specialist

7 Signs It’s Time to See a Doctor For Back Pain

“My back hurts.”

Probably a phrase we have either heard or spoken many times. In fact, back pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide.

If you or a loved one are suffering from back pain, you are not alone.

Backs and spines are complicated. It can get confusing when talking about the different muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones.

Then add anatomies such as ruptured discs and sciatic nerve damage and it’s downright confusing.

Is your back pain affecting your everyday life? If so, it may be time to see a back and spine specialist. Here are 7 signs it’s time to schedule an appointment.

Back and Spine Specialist Checklist

There are a million different reasons why your back hurts, from serious accidents to something insignificant as picking up a penny off the sidewalk.

So, how do you know if your back pain is more than just a result of a bad mattress or bad posture?

1. Pain that lasts longer than 4 to 6 weeks.

Two-thirds of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their life. It’s common to have minor aches and pain, but if the pain is constant you may need to call your doctor.

Most back pain will get better within 6 weeks with a self-care regiment that includes rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories.

If your pain doesn’t get better or it continues to get worse, it’s an indication that there is something serious going on that could need more advanced treatment.

2. Pain that follows an accident.

If your back pain is due to an accident such as a fall or a car accident, it is best to see a back and spine specialist away.

Even a small accident, such as being rear-ended in a car, can have lifelong effects on your neck and spine.

Even if the pain isn’t terrible, you should be seen by a specialist to make sure it is not a serious injury.

3. Pain is Worse at Night

Are you able to do your daily activities, but have a hard time sleeping?

Most back pain gets better when you rest. If you feel fine during the day, but your pain returns night after night, that could be a sign of something serious such as a sprain or disc degeneration.

If going to bed makes you cringe because of your back pain, or you are woken up from a deep sleep because of sudden pain, call your doctor.

4. Tingling Sensation

Ever have your hand or foot fall asleep? The tingling or numbness from back pain can feel similar. It can happen in any part of the body, but it is usually felt down the legs.

If you feel tingling or numbness, it may be a sign of nerve damage. This is more serious than the normal back aches you may get from bending and lifting.

If you feel tingling, numbness, or any shooting pain, contact a back and spine specialist to prevent any long-term nerve damage.

5. Fever Along With Back Pain.

A fever of 101 degrees or more is a sign of an infection somewhere in the body. If you have a fever accompanying your back pain, tell your doctor.

This could be a sign of some sort of infection in the spine that can come from a weakened immune system.

If there is an infection somewhere along the spine, it can usually be treated with antibiotics prescribed under physicians care.

6. Rapid Weight Loss

Most adults keep a steady weight. So, if you suddenly lose weight rapidly — such as 5 pounds in a week, for a few weeks in a row — contact your doctor.

If you have back pain and are experiencing a sudden loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting, don’t hesitate to see a specialist.

These could be signs of something serious, such as a tumor growing around the spine.

7.Loss of Bowel or Bladder Control

Tell your doctor if you having trouble controlling your bowels or bladder. This can be a sign of a rare but serious condition called cauda equine syndrome.

This condition is caused by a herniated disc or trauma to the spine that causes the nerve roots in the end of the spine to become paralyzed.

Along with the loss of bowel and bladder control, let a back and spine specialist know if you have any feeling loss in your pelvis.

Other Areas of Concern

Other considerations that need to be addressed when deciding to call a specialist:

  • If the back pain is persistent in a child or teenager. Most back pain doesn’t occur until about the age of 35. If your child is complaining of back pain, it’s best to get it checked out.
  • Constant back pain for an individual who has been treated for cancer. If you have had cancer, or are currently being treated for cancer and you get new back pain, contact your doctor immediately.
  • Anyone who may have a weakened bone condition such as osteoporosis or osteopenia. These conditions can cause a weak spine and cause back pain.
  • If you are taking steroids for any reason. Back pain can be a side effect of taking steroids.
  • Any individual who has a weakened immune system. Having a weakened immune system means the risk of infection is higher. If you have HIVs or Heart Disease, you may have a weakened immune system.
  • Any obvious deformity of the spine such as scoliosis. There are certain procedures that can be done by a back and spine specialist.
  • If there is blood in the urine, along with one-sided back pain. This could be a sign of a possible kidney infection.

Finding Relief

Are you finding that you have to give up your favorite activities because of the relentless pain every time you move? Back pain that interrupts your life can be frustrating.

We are here you help you. When talking about back pain and different treatments, it can be scary and intimidating. We will provide the best care and the best course of action for your specific injury.

If you have any of these seven symptoms, stop relying on Google to find answers, and give us a call so we can help you find relief.

best spine surgeon

7 Tips on Finding the Best Spine Surgeon

Are you in search of the best spine surgeon for an upcoming procedure?

Having spinal surgery is a serious medical decision. As you get ready for it, you may be feeling intimidated, overwhelmed, and nervous.

That’s why it’s so important to find an amazing spine surgeon who understands your needs and can help you feel comfortable and informed before the big day.

Read on to learn more about how you can find the best surgeon for your needs, no matter your condition.

1. Be Picky

This is the most important tip to follow when it comes to seeking out the ideal spine surgeon. It can be easy to settle on a lot of other decisions in your life, such as a cell phone carrier, an Internet provider, or even what neighborhood to live in.

When it comes to medical practitioners, particularly those who are caring for your spinal health, stick to your list of requirements. Do in-depth research and don’t compromise on your standards.

Be bold in the questions you ask potential surgeons. Take notes, make comparisons, and build your own understanding of your upcoming surgery.

To ensure you find the best spine surgeon, begin by writing down a list of priorities. You may want a doctor who cares for you and your comfort, one with a lot of experience, or one who has been in the local community for quite some time.

2. Ask Family Members and Friends for Referrals

One of the best places to start when it comes to finding the best spine surgeon is your own personal network. Even if your family members haven’t had any experience with spinal surgery, you may be surprised at whom they know.

Talk to your friends too. Ask if they have any recommendations for spinal practitioners.

A lot of people have experience going to a chiropractor, or at least, a physical therapist. They may have a few names for you.

You may also want to consult local business owners in the medical field. Oftentimes, the best spine surgeon will be anchored in a local community and a part of many locals’ lives.

Build a list of referrals, including ones from your current practitioners, and work from there.

3. Investigate Online Reviews and Testimonials

You may be surprised that we’re recommending this, particularly given the fact that a spine surgeon operates in the medical field. But online reviews and testimonials still apply. Industries of all kinds are encouraging them in order to gather more clients.

Go through your list of referrals. Check for any online reviews or testimonials. While a lot of people may not be forthcoming about sharing medical details online, you’ll at least be able to assess ratings, comments, and more.

Look for surgeons who got the greatest amount of positive testimonials. Pay attention to what reviewers cite when they give a high ranking. Search for doctors who prioritize customer experience in particular.

4. Inspect Certifications and Credentials

At this point, you’ve likely got a few names on your list. Now it’s time to assess your potential surgeon’s certifications and credentials. If this information is not readily available online, ask about it during a consultation.

The best spine surgeon will be board certified or eligible to conduct spinal surgeries. This certificate (or certificates) is often displayed in his office.

Your spinal surgeon should also be part of a prominent spinal organization.

Lastly, ask your surgeon about fellowship training he may have had. This means that he will have had at least one year of focused study on spinal surgery in addition to all of his other requirements for certification.

While it’s not necessary for your surgeon to be fellowship trained, it’s essential if you’re opting for a more complex spine surgery like spinal fusion.

Also, research how much the surgeon focuses on spinal conditions in his practice. You’ll ideally want someone who prioritizes spinal conditions. Over half of his clientele should be spinal patients.

5. Have a Consultation

You may have to have a consultation to ask more about the surgeon’s credentials. But you’ll also want to meet with your potential surgeon to see if your personalities match.

This is a crucial step in finding the best spine surgeon. You want someone who understands your needs and is willing to listen to your concerns throughout the entire process.

Use your consultation to gauge the surgeon’s personality and general response to your questions. If anything doesn’t feel right, it’s time to move on to another candidate.

6. Ask to Talk to Other Patients

This may not be possible with most surgeons simply because prior patients have to give their consent to a physician before he can pass along any information.

But if it is possible, it’s definitely worth talking to the surgeon’s previous patients. This will give you the most specific evidence about your his experience, personality, and more.

7. Gather Knowledge

Most importantly, you’re going to want a surgeon who keeps you informed.

During a consultation or even after you’ve chosen a spinal surgeon, ask as many questions as you can so that you know exactly what to expect.

There should never be a part of your surgery process that is unclear, intimidating, or foggy. Gather knowledge from your surgeon to confirm their expertise and also ensure that your surgery is as painless as possible.

Finding the Best Spine Surgeon

Spinal surgery is a big deal, and it’s essential to find a surgeon who can make you feel comfortable and informed. As you’re searching for a doctor, make use of friends’ and family members’ referrals.

Also, investigate online reviews and testimonials. Make sure you gather all the details on your surgeon’s credentials and expertise.

Book a consultation so you can gauge his surgeon’s personality and fit. Prioritize your own knowledge of the process before choosing.

At Executive Spine Surgery, we pride ourselves on minimally invasive surgery and fantastic patient care. Find out today if you are a candidate for surgery!

Back Pain and Depression

Back Pain and Depression: Is there a Link?

Emotions are an integral part of assessing and treating chronic pain. But most people don’t think about that.

There is a strong link between back pain and depression.

People struggling with chronic back pain are likely to get depressed. Those who are depressed have worse pain and a harder time recovering from that pain.

The funny thing is, most people with back pain don’t even realize they’re depressed. They think the reason they’re feeling so hopeless and irritable is their physical pain.

So let’s take a look at how back pain and depression build off each other and make matters worse.

What Is Depression?

Many people think of depression as just a “mental illness.” Yet, this condition can negatively affect the way you act and cause physical problems.

Depression leaves a person feeling constantly sad or blue.

In most cases, it makes someone lose all interest they had in previous hobbies or activities. People with depression slowly become less able to function normally.

The effects of depression can be debilitating. Sufferers can find themselves stuck with serious, chronic back pain, even if there’s no obvious, physical reason for it.

But these feelings of sadness are more than just feeling down for a while. Symptoms of serious depression will occur every day for at least two weeks, and even longer than that.

There are many different symptoms of depression, such as:

  • A lasting mood of depression, sadness, and hopelessness
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Loss of interest in usual hobbies
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

What Is Chronic Pain?

Acute pain happens when you get an injury, such as breaking your wrist, and leaves when that injury has healed. Chronic pain, on the other hand, doesn’t go away even after the injury is gone.

Minor cases of chronic pain will last three to six months. Sometimes, chronic pain can last for years without the right treatment.

This constant pain leaves a person feeling physically and mentally frustrated and exhausted.

The Vicious Merry Go Round

Back pain and depression are linked in a circle of sorts.

A person with chronic back pain is likely to develop some measure of depression, and the depression will actually make the pain worse.

Similarly, a person who is already depressed can develop back pain, and that pain can result in deeper depression.

Back Pain Causes Depression

Chronic pain can be a debilitating illness to live with, which brings on depressive symptoms.

For example, back pain may make it difficult to fall asleep at night. This can make a person irritable and exhausted during the day.

A person with back pain will also be unable to get around how they used to. The pain will make them slow and careful, meaning they’re unable to work. This includes both work outside the house and normal household chores like cleaning and cooking.

This forces them to spend a lot of their time indoors away from other people, which makes them isolated.

On top of not being able to partake in enjoyable activities, a person may also feel added financial stress. This usually happens if they are unable to continue working or care for the family.

This frustration can lead to thoughts of failure.

Pain medication can also keep a person in a kind of dull or dazed mind. Added with the pain, this makes it difficult to remember things and think clearly.

How Does That Equal Depression?

Notice how each of these circumstances result in a symptom of depression. Because a person feels these symptoms every day, along with hopelessness and sadness, they often get depressed.

As the pain and depression grow, the person goes through something called physical and mental deconditioning.

Basically, the person feels less and less control over his own life. This makes him feel controlled by the pain, which results in stronger depression.

Depression Causes Back Pain

People who struggle with depression as a result of back pain have what is known as reactive depression. The depression reacts to the physical pain, which can happen in those who have no previous history of depression.

On the other hand, people who have a history of depression are more likely to experience chronic back pain.

Depression actually makes back pain worse and keeps it from going away. Even if there is a way to fix the problem, people with depression are unable to heal.

Depression and Spine Surgery

Depression also affects spine surgery outcomes.

If a person struggling with back pain and depression undergoes spine surgery, they may continue to display symptoms after the procedure. This extends the healing time and makes it harder for the patient to recover.

One of the best things to do for a person battling back pain and depression is to postpone the spine surgery until their depression goes away. This will provide the best surgical results in the future.

Treating Back Pain and Depression

Unfortunately, the diagnosis of depression in relation to back pain is often missed because doctors are usually looking for something physical. But doctors cannot effectively treat chronic back pain if they do not treat the depression as well.

The two require a specialized treatment approach because they come as a package.

But Remember…

Most people who have reactive depression don’t even realize they are depressed. They focus all their energy on their physical pain, thinking they will get out of their “funk” when the physical pain is gone.

If you’ve been struggling with back pain and haven’t seen any results from treatment, you might suffer from some form of depression.

It may not be major depression, but it could be minor to moderate depression. Next time you’re at the doctor, ask them about your mental health instead of just the pain you feel.

If you need help dealing with chronic back pain and depression, check out some of our treatment plans. We’ll get you fixed up.

How to Relieve Lower Back Pain

10 Tips for Relieving Lower Back Pain

Did you know that lower back pain represents the second leading cause of disability in the United States?

Do you struggle with this frustrating medical issue? If so, discover how to relieve lower back pain with these following tips.

Let’s get into it.

1. Change Your Mattress

You spend a third of your life asleep. You need this experience to be as comfortable as possible!

Recent studies suggest that people with lower back pain sleep better on medium-firm mattresses instead of firm mattresses.

There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for this, but if you find your mattress sagging or you’re having trouble sleeping, it may be time to upgrade your bed.

2. Get a Massage

Want to know how to relieve lower back pain and take care of yourself mentally at the same time?

It’s as simple as scheduling routine back massages. In fact, up to 75% of participants report back pain relief after just three months of routine treatment.

Not only do massages feel incredibly relaxing, but they can also help with posture pain, improved immunity, and better sleep. What more can you want?

3. Take Medication

Anti-inflammatory medications, such as Motrin, Advil, or Aleve can help relieve some of the pain.

It’s always best to consult with your doctor before undergoing a medication regimen if you’re trying to learn how to relieve lower back pain.

4. Ice It

If you’re wondering how to relieve lower back pain, especially after an injury, look no further than your freezer.

Using ice within 24-48 hours after an injury can significantly reduce inflammation. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat.

Use ice for about 20 minutes at a single time to yield the best results. Position yourself in a comfortable position and place the ice bag directly over the injured area.

5. Exercise

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to know how to relieve lower back pain in a natural way, you need to get moving.

Our bodies and spines are meant to move, so keep up with your daily activities as often as you can. Do your chores. Walk the dog. Tend the garden.

If you have the energy, aerobic and strength exercises can also help. Just be careful to avoid overdoing it.

6. Mind Your Posture

If you’re slumping around, it’s a lot harder for your back to properly support your weight and frame.

It’s critical to be mindful of your posture, especially when lifting heavy objects or sitting for long periods of time.

When lifting, avoid bending from the waist. Instead, bend and straighten from your knees.

At work, it’s important to also mind your posture. This means using an appropriate, comfortable desk chair that supports your lower back and allows you to keep your feet planted on the floor without hunching or slouching.

7. Stretch Regularly

Do you sit for long periods of time? Watch a lot of TV or spend a lot of time in sedentary positions? Maybe you’ve heard that infamous mantra that sitting is the new smoking.

Whether that’s true or not, research does show that getting up every half hour or so to engage in light stretching or moving around is good for the body.

It’s also good for your spine, back, and legs. Get in the habit of setting the alarm every thirty minutes to stand up and move around. Do some light yoga stretches if it feels good.

Your body (and your back pain) will thank you.

8. Wear the Right Shoes

Your back pain and footwear are undoubtedly connected. That means that poor support for your feet can wreak havoc on your back.

Flip flops, though comfortable to wear, can compound back pain. That’s because they don’t have proper arch support. Over time, people may change the way they walk to adapt to flip-flops. This can lead to foot and back pain.

With that said, flats, while cute, aren’t very optimal for relieving back pain, either. They also provide little to no support.

Finally, high heels, while undoubtedly classy and stylish, can completely throw off the back’s alignment. They can exacerbate strain and stress on the back because they alter your center of gravity.

When women wear high heels, they naturally lean forward. This change in posture forces the body to decrease the forward back curve, which can result in poor spine alignment.

Want to know how to relieve lower back pain with the right shoes? Look for shoes that include the following:

  • Provide extra arch support
  • Provide motion control (like running shoes)
  • Allow for the middle part of the foot to hit the ground
  • Use materials like graphite or plastic

Nothing working? It never hurts to consult with a podiatrist to determine the optimal shoes.

9. Lose Weight

Having a healthy body weight is good for many physical and mental reasons, and your back is just one of them.

Carrying extra pounds can put excess weight on your body. Being overweight can also put extra pressure on your intervertebral disks. This can increase your risk of injury and weaken your overall body.

Do yourself a favor and take care of yourself physically. This means eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet with plenty of veggies, fruits, and protein. It also means getting adequate exercise and sleep.

10. Find the Right Professional

If you’ve tried everything under the sun for relieving your back pain, and nothing seems to be getting better, it’s time to seek medical assistance.

You can start with your primary care physician to discuss your concerns and symptoms. You can also reach out directly to a neurosurgeon or spinal specialist, especially if you’ve had chronic pain and already tried conventional methods.

Be open and honest with your doctor about your feelings and symptoms. Remember, he is there to listen and help you find relief and secure treatment.

Final Thoughts on How to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Living with back pain can feel bothersome and frustrating, but help and treatment are available.

Let the experts at Executive Spine Surgery help you. Check out our minimally invasive, non-surgical pain management procedures today. Let’s get your health back on track.

spinal decompression

Everything You Need to Know About Spinal Decompression Therapy

Pain.

It serves a purpose.

It’s an internal warning device triggering avoidance reactions. This can prevent further serious injury. It is also a signal that something is wrong with a particular part of your body and that you need to get it checked out.

But when it persists, when pain continues even after the initial cause is fixed, it becomes problematic.

This is called chronic pain. And for many people who suffer chronic back pain, it is not pleasant to live with.

A relatively new set of therapies is advancing in the [ ] of pain associated with conditions involving the spine. It’s called spinal decompression therapy, and it’s revolutionizing how doctors treat back pain.

If you’re suffering from back pain, keep reading. This may be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Relief.

Why is Back Pain So Common?

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) says that pain in the lower back is the number one cause of disability worldwide. In fact, the ACA estimates that at any given time, 31 million Americans experience lower back pain.

According to the American Spinal Decompression Association (ASDA), some of the most common causes of back pain include:

  1. Disc herniation
  2. Bulging discs
  3. Back injuries involving muscle, joint, or ligament strains
  4. Severe and prolonged muscle contractions and spasms
  5. Degenerative disc disease
  6. Vertebral misalignment
  7. Displacement or slippage of vertebrae called Spondylolisthesis
  8. Spinal arthritis often referred to as osteoarthritis
  9. Spinal stenosis: nerve pressure due to narrowing of the spinal canal
  10. Complications due to osteoporosis, such as vertebral fractures
  11. Spinal curvatures from inherited conditions such as scoliosis.

Lately, more pain sufferers are turning to spinal decompression therapy for relief. This procedure is performed two ways: surgically and nonsurgically.

Wondering if it’s right for you? Here we break both down into simple terms to help you decide.

Nonsurgical Spinal Decompression

A safe, nonsurgical option using relatively new technology.

Symptoms Treated

The nonsurgical approach to spinal decompression treats neck and low back pain issues. Some of the more common uses include:

  • relieving spinal nerve pressure caused by herniated discs
  • pain relief for persistent pain due to degenerative disc disease
  • treatment for people diagnosed with posterior facet syndrome (wearing of the spinal joints)
  • back, neck, or sciatica pain — pain, weakness, or tingling sensations extending down the legs

Procedures Used

The treatment uses FDA approved equipment and involves gentle manipulation of the spine. A motorized traction table, similar to those used by chiropractors and osteopaths, performs the movements.

A padded harness, attached to the lower part of the table, is strapped to a patient’s hips. The upper portion of the table stays fixed while the lower part pulls the harness, gently stretching the spine.

The decompression device is computer controlled. The doctor programs and guides the device. The machine applies the necessary forces in a precise and gradual series of stretches and decompressions.

A typical session averages 30-45 minutes. The recommended course of therapy for full effect is 20 to 30 sessions over a 4 to 6 week period.

Expected Outcome

As the word decompression implies, this treatment helps release pressure from the disks of the spine. The gel-like cushions are able to retract.

The result is twofold:

  1. Herniated or bulging discs no longer put pressure on spinal cord nerves, which is often a major cause of back pain.
  2. Discs that are no longer compressed can rehydrate, reoxygenate, and pull in nutrient-rich fluids. This strengthens and allows healing of the discs.

Many patients experience relief after just a few sessions. But to achieve the full benefit the entire course of treatment is important to complete.

Researchers agree that more studies and data are needed to evaluate the overall safety and effectiveness of nonsurgical spinal decompression. But the future of this revolutionary therapy is promising.

As with any treatment of this nature, there are certain conditions where the therapy is not recommended. This includes women who are pregnant, patients with fractures or tumors in the spine, people with spinal implants or advanced osteoporosis.

Surgical Spinal Decompression

Depending on the cause of back pain, a surgical procedure may be the only option to relieve spinal pressure. It often becomes necessary when other alternative measures don’t work.

Symptoms Treated

Surgery may help relieve symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the arms, legs or back from spinal cord pressure
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the extremities
  • Sciatica
  • Sacroiliac joint disorders
  • Compressed or pinched nerve roots
  • Bulging or ruptured discs
  • Discogenic back pain due to radial tears in the annulus (tough outer layer of discs)
  • Osteophytes or bone spurs
  • Pain and discomfort associated with degenerative disc disease.

These symptoms develop from a wide variety of causes. These include, but are not limited to, injury, poor posture, degenerative conditions, and aging.

Procedures Used

There are several common surgeries used for spinal decompression. These include:

Discectomy

Involves the removal of a portion of a herniated or ruptured disc to relieve nerve pressure

Laminectomy

A section of the bony arch of a vertebra is removed, increasing the spinal canal diameter. This procedure is typically performed on patients with spinal stenosis.

Foraminotomy

Also called laser spine surgery. This procedure removes bone spurs, disk herniations, or synovial cysts causing pinched nerves.

Osteophyte Removal

Extraction of excess bone growth or bone spurs. Both commonly develop when the spine becomes weakened due to degenerative disease or aging.

Corpectomy

A complex operation resulting in the complete removal of damaged discs as well as the bony vertebrae. The removed portions are often replaced with bone grafts, held together with titanium plates and screws.

Expected Outcome

Many of the above surgeries can be performed as minimally invasive procedures. In that case, recovery time is quicker than it is with surgery. Patients are often released the same day.

As with nonsurgical methods, the overall outcome of many of these procedures has shown to be effective for:

  • pain relief
  • increased mobility
  • return to normal function and abilities.

Ready for Relief?

If you’re tired of living with constant pain, it might be time to see if you’re a candidate for spinal decompression therapy.

We’ve created a simple checklist to help you decide. Simply read and answer the questions. If you answer “yes” to any of the statements, we offer a courtesy MRI review to help you decide your next steps.

Freedom from pain may be just a click away.

scoliosis surgery

What to Expect During Scoliosis Surgery Recovery

Are you at a point where you have considered scoliosis surgery as your only option for treatment? Well, you are not alone. According to statistics, 38,000 of about 6 million scoliosis patients usually end up in the hands of a surgeon.

Scoliosis surgery is usually a big deal, the more reason why very few people are advised to take that path. However, for the few who do, the surgical procedure has been proven to be successful with a success rate of 70%.

To help you with the process of recovery, we have compiled some of the most important things you should expect in the journey to full recovery. So read on to find out.

First, a Brief Walk Through Scoliosis Surgery

Scoliosis surgery is a treatment option provided to scoliosis patients who other forms of treatment such as bracing and observation have not worked for them.

Usually, before the patient goes through surgery, he/she is taken through a series of examinations by the medical doctor.

After investigations have been successfully completed, the surgery is done where the vertebrae are fused through a bone graft using metal rods and wires.

Most patients think that the fusion happens during surgery but rather, surgery provides the framework on which the fusion will take place. This fusion process usually takes approximately 6-12 months.

For this reason, scoliosis surgery patients are usually in need of utmost post-surgery care, so as to ensure full recovery from the surgery.

The Recovery Process

The First Few Days in Hospital

On average, patients spend four to seven days in the hospital after scoliosis surgery.

After surgery, you will wake up lying on your back. The doctor will then ask you questions such as whether you can move your legs and wiggle your toes. He/she asks these questions so as to assess whether there was any spinal damage during the operation.

Most patients start moving around a day or two after the scoliosis surgery. However, in a few cases, the patient can be considerably immobile for three to four days. This, however, largely depends on the age of the patient.

Handling Pain

One of the side effects of scoliosis surgery is regular bouts of sharp pain. In the hospital, this is usually handled using narcotics that the patient can intravenously introduce into his/her body whenever there is a pain.

The dosage is controlled via a controller operated by the patient. Simply pressing a button injects the drugs into the bloodstream, reducing the amount of pain.

Techniques for Moving Around

Scoliosis surgery leaves the spine fragile and quite inflexible. This means that you should avoid bending your spine at all cost.

Your physical therapist or nurse will advise you on a technique called “log roll”. This will be useful in the first few days in getting you in and out of bed.

In as much as the spine is fragile and inflexible, occasional movements are very important in the recovery process. This is because these slight movements regain the lost spinal flexibility while strengthening the back in the process.

What to Do, Once You Are at Home

Before you are discharged, your doctor must be satisfied that you can do the following:

1. You can get in and out of bed without help – you must have mastered the log roll technique

2. You must have shown improvement in walking

3. You should be able to eat solid foods

4. The incision wound should not be infected

Once the doctor discharges you, the number one concern now becomes your nutrition.

What You Should Eat

Scoliosis surgery patients are usually advised to eat food that strengthens the bones, since it hastens the bone fusion process at the spine.

Bone broth is the first, most effective meal you can have while recovering from a scoliosis surgery. Bone broth is usually made from boiling animal bones and connective tissues.

This creates soup rich in the amino acids proline and glycine, and minerals such as calcium and magnesium which strengthen bones.

Other foods such as gelatin and organ meat are also nutritious and advised for a patient recovering from surgery.

There is more doctor advice, however, that you need to adhere to in the first few weeks at home.

Things You Should Avoid in the First 14 Days at Home

The general advice from the doctor for the first 14 days at home can be summed up as no BLT. This means that the patient should not bend, lift or twist.

By restricting bending and twisting, the doctor only allows the patient to bend the hips and knees. The patient should not especially twist the back. This is where the “log rolling” technique comes in handy.

Touching on weights, a patient recovering from scoliosis surgery should not lift weights above 8 pounds. This is basically a gallon of milk.

So, why all these restrictions?

Breaking any of these rules can lead to an unstable fusion and healing of the spine, which may call for a correction scoliosis surgery.

From the Second Week and Beyond

When you are at home, you will still be using narcotics to reduce the severe bouts of pain that may come frequently. However, there is a need for balance.

Your doctor will advise you to use narcotics only when the pain is severe and you need some relief so as to concentrate on some other tasks. But once you get into the second week, much of this severe pain would have gone away.

The best advice at this point is to break away from narcotics and use weaker medication such as Acetaminophen.

Why should you relieve yourself from the use of narcotics?

Excessive use of narcotics by a scoliosis surgery patient can lead to addiction and other health complications.

Apart from the shift from narcotics, the second week and beyond comes with lesser restrictions. After the first follow-up appointment, which is usually done in the second week, the surgeon may permit you to go back to school or work, ride in a car or go out with friends.

From the sixth week, the doctor lifts most restrictions. This is after he conducts another assessment of the spine and the fusion process. However, some activities may be permitted later depending on the patient’s recovery from scoliosis surgery.

Full Recovery

Full recovery comes within a year for most patients. Sometimes, however, it may extend to two years. Once the patient has fully recovered, he/she can resume all activities he/she was used to.

Factors That Can Inhibit Recovery

If you want to fully recover from scoliosis surgery, then you should avoid smoking among other unhealthy habits. Smoking, for instance, inhibits the fusion process since nicotine is a bone toxin.

Wrapping Up

Scoliosis surgery can be a pleasing experience if you take the right steps during the recovery process. But before you face the knife, please consult a professional surgeon, and get the right advice.

pinched nerve

How to Relieve Pain From a Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve is caused by compression of a nerve or set of nerves. It can occur due to sleeping in the wrong position for a long period of time or may be the result of repetitive motions. Regardless of the reason for onset, it’s often at least mildly painful and can be debilitating depending on severity.

If you’re in so much pain that you can’t move, you probably need to see your doctor. Treatment usually relieves pain and other symptoms, but in some cases, pinched nerve damage cannot be reversed.

A pinched nerve is something you may never have to deal with. But if you do, you’ll want to know how to get rid of the pain fast.

Whether you pinched your nerve gardening, working or sleeping, we’re here to discuss ways that you can alleviate the mild pain you may be experiencing because of it. Keep reading to learn more.

Soothing a Pinched Nerve

Symptoms of a pinched nerve may include numbness or tingling, burning and the sensation of pins and needles. This can occur in various places throughout your body like the neck and back, elbows, legs, wrists, and fingers.

If you think you’re experiencing a pinched nerve, try some of these home remedies to alleviate symptoms:

Rest

Rest is imperative to healing a pinched nerve and is often the first thing doctors recommend.

It’s important to limit your activities even if you don’t feel tired. Avoid texting as this causes you to push your head forward which extends the muscles and nerves in your back and neck.

Try sleeping on your side or back and elevate your legs, especially for a pinched nerve in the lower back. You might also try using a neck brace to limit your movement.

Massage

While getting a massage is easier said than done, you can also perform mini massages on yourself.

If you can afford the time, energy and cost of a professional massage, by all means, it will help immensely. Massage therapists are trained and specialize in nerve pain reduction practices. They can also give you advice on which types of stretches will be best for your particular situation.

If you’d rather stay at home, give yourself a light massage surrounding the area where the pain is most intense. Apply moderate pressure and push and rub on the muscles to reduce inflammation and pressure.

Stretch

Light stretches can help relieve the pressure on your nerves and help to improve symptoms of pain.

It’s important to focus on light stretching, and don’t overdo it. Even a little pain or discomfort should cause you to ease up on your stretch.

Try laying down on the bed or the floor and extending your legs and arms and neck out carefully. Look for yoga poses that focus on nerve pain.

Adjust Posture

One of the main causes of nerve pain is due to bad posture. Even slight changes in your posture can make a difference in your pain levels.

Sit up straight and don’t lean forward. Make sure to keep your head in line with your spine. If you must remain seated, keep your hips at a ninety-degree angle and feet on the floor.

You also don’t want to be sitting in any type of twisted position: face forward, hips forward, feet forward.

Heat and Ice

Heat is best when you first begin experiencing pain. Apply heat to the affected area within 24 hours. This will help relax the muscles that might be tight around the nerve.

Heat also helps improve blood circulation to the affected nerve and helps the healing process.

After 24 hours and for quick relief, you can apply ice for 10-15 minutes at a time at one-hour intervals. Ice or a cold compress works as a numbing agent to the affected area and reduces swelling and inflammation.

OTC Pain Relievers

If you lack time for necessary rest or you’re waiting to see a doctor, you can also try over the counter pain relievers.

Make sure to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These include Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Follow the instructions carefully and call your doctor immediately if symptoms worsen or side effects occur. It might also be wise to ask your doctor if these medications are okay first as they may interact with other medications that you currently take.

Castor Oil

If you’d rather try to stick with more holistic remedies, you can try a castor oil pack. You can make your own with castor oil from any home health store and a small piece of wool flannel fabric.

Fold the flannel into quarters and saturate it with castor oil before placing it on the affected area. You can wrap it in plastic wrap and a thin towel to absorb excess oil and then put a heating pad on top. Wear this pack and rest for about an hour and repeat every 3-4 hours as necessary until your pain subsides.

Turmeric

Turmeric can help relieve the pain from inflammation surrounding your nerves. It’s also used and as an herbal pain reliever.

You can boil one teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk or almond milk. Add some cinnamon and sweeten with honey. Drink it once or twice a day until symptoms subside.

Epsom Salt

Epsom salt works as an anti-inflammatory agent that helps relax tight muscles which may be affecting your nerves. It’s also full of magnesium which is incredible for nerve pain and critical in helping the body heal.

Take a 15-20 minute Epsom salt bath to help the magnesium absorb into your body quickly. You can use one cup of Epsom salt and warm water. Warmer water will also help relieve the tension in your muscles.

Final Thoughts

The best thing you can do for a pinched nerve is to get plenty of rest. Your body needs time to replenish itself no matter which forms of therapy you use. Try resting in a position that feels comfortable and staying there for at least an hour at a time.

Rest assured, most cases of pinched nerves go away on their own. But you can contact your doctor if you’re experiencing extreme pain or losing sleep. Your doctor can recommend medication for nerve pain and suggest other measures that will help you feel better.

If you still have questions or you’d like to schedule a consultation, we’re here for you!

herniated lumbar disc

What to Know About Your Herniated Lumbar Disc

Hearing that you have a herniated lumbar disk can be terrifying if you don’t know what’s going on.

What is it? How did I get it, and how can I get rid of it? These are just a few of the questions that may be running through your head. Don’t worry; we have the answers.

Your spinal discs are kind of like the inserts in your shoes. They act as the shock absorbers of your spine and allow for movement while supporting your upper body.

That’s why it’s important to know what to do when something goes wrong. Here is what you need to know about your herniated lumbar disc.

What Is a Herniated Lumbar Disc?

Disc degeneration occurs naturally over time. The discs become shallower as we age, and the process can begin early in life.

Each disc has an outer ring and a gel-like interior. A herniated lumbar disc occurs when the inner layer ruptures through the outer ring. They are very common, and most people that have them and don’t even notice.

But if the herniated disc is up against a nerve it, may become extremely painful. You may have heard a herniated disc being called the following:

  • slipped disc
  • ruptured disc
  • bulging disc
  • pinched nerve
  • sciatica

A lot of names, but they all refer to a herniated disc. Pinched nerve and Sciatica specifically refer to the kind of pain that it causes.

What Caused It?

A herniated lumbar disc can occur at any time in life, but it most heavily affects people who are between the ages of 35 and 50.

Always remember to lift with your knees! A herniated disc can be caused by heavy lifting, sudden twisting, a tragic accident, or for absolutely no apparent reason. That’s why it’s important to see a doctor to discover the source of the problem.

Age, gender, smoking habits, obesity, and family history all play a role in getting herniated lumbar discs. So if you’re a chainsmoking, overweight male in your 40’s with a family history of herniated discs, I have some bad news for you.

What Are the Symptoms?

Pain is going to be the most obvious symptom. It is caused when the herniation presses against a nerve, and will generally only affect one side of the body.

This pain can occur in the following areas:

  • legs
  • lower back
  • buttock
  • thighs
  • calf
  • feet
  • toes

The pain can be excruciating and is described as searing, sharp, radiating, or piercing. However, it is usually not long lasting.

What Are My Options?

First, don’t panic. This is a very common condition that usually goes away on its own in about 6 weeks.

Your body will attack the herniation like it is a foreign entity. Additionally, water from the disc will be absorbed by the body. Both of these happenings will lead to the disc becoming smaller and less likely to hit a nerve.

Home Remedies

There are a few options for dealing with pain in the meantime. You’re going to want to apply ice for the first couple of days. After that, apply heat. You can also try alternating between ice and heat to see if that helps.

Bedrest is good for a couple of days, but after that stiffness sets in, and that could potentially lead to more problems. Try to be active, but avoid injuring your back with violent movements or heavy lifting.

You can take ibuprofen for the pain. Massage therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy are all great options for when you need to start ramping up treatment.

If none of the above helped, it might time to see a doctor.

Seeing a Doctor

At no point during this entire process should you be panicking, this is a common problem that most people will have to deal with at one time or another.

Your doctor is going to be interviewing you and giving an examination. The interview will try to get to the bottom of what caused the herniated discs and if there are other medical conditions that may be the actual cause of the problem.

During the physical exams, the doctor will be running a number of tests to check for pain, strength, the range of motion, and loss of sensation. This might sound invasive, but you’ll just be doing a bunch of walking, bending, and stretching. X-rays and MRI’s will also be taken.

If you are experiencing long-term pain a no other treatments have worked, surgery may be the next option for you.

Surgery

Surgery should only be considered if the pain is lasting longer than 6 weeks, there are worsening neurological symptoms, you are experiencing incontinence, or if nothing else has worked. But even if surgery is elected, it’s not the end of the world.

The surgery to fix a herniated lumbar disc is non-invasive and has a very high success rate of 84%. The surgery takes pressure off the nerve root by removing a small portion of the disc. And after 1-3 weeks of recovery, you’re back to normal.

However, there are always risks when it comes to surgeries, and about 10% of those who undergo surgery will again have a herniated disc at the same spot. Be sure to discuss surgery with your doctor before coming to a decision.

Being Prepared

A herniated lumbar disc is a common ailment. It can be caused by an accident, improper lifting procedures, or for seemingly no reason at all. Luckily, the pain that comes along with it should subside in a few weeks.

But for those who are still in pain, recovery may be a longer and scarier process. If you are seeking a clinic that specializes in non-invasive options, please contact us. We offer a wide array of surgical and non-surgical treatments tailored specifically to your needs.

A herniated lumbar disc is certainly a hurdle that many will face in life. But whether it’s a large or small hurdle will depend more on how you’ve treated it and how much you’ve prepared yourself for dealing with it. Remember, there are always options and help for when you’re dealing with a herniated lumbar disc.

What is the sciatic nerve?

The sciatic nerve is made up of the spinal nerve roots exiting the lower spine. The sciatic nerve travels through the pelvis and down the leg. When disk or bone spur pinches the sciatic nerve in the back it causes back and leg pain called sciatica. This pain tends to be in the back of the thigh and calf.  This may be associated with numbness in the little toes and difficulty walking on your toes.  Bending forward or lifting your leg may aggravate the pain.  People with sciatica benefit from rest, anti-inflammatories, pain medicine, physical therapy, steroid injections and spine surgery.

Today spine surgery is not like how it used to be.  Most spine surgeries can be done with laser or spinal endoscope.  The arthroscopic procedure is done through a small incision the size of your finer nail through a tube the size of a pen.  The herniated disk is found and removed under direct visualization un-pinching the nerve relieving pain and suffering.  Patients are discharged home the same day after one to two hours.  Many people have little post-operative pain and need for pain medication after surgery and can return to most activities within a few weeks after surgery.

To learn more about sciatica and endoscopic spine surgery please see What is Sciatica? and Laser Spine Surgery.

Click to schedule-an-appointment or call 908-452-5612.

I broke my back. Who do I see for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

I would recommend seeing a spine surgeon if you are considering vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty.    You should bring your x-rays, CT and MRI to be reviewed and interpreted to determine the best treatment for you.  For more information about spinal compression fractures, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty  please click Kyphoplasty.

Click Schedule an Appointment to learn more how Executive Spine Surgery can help you.  Good Luck!