exercises for scoliosis

5 Best Exercises for Scoliosis

Scoliosis is characterized by an S or C-shaped curve in your back and is often accompanied by a significant amount of pain. For most, scoliosis develops in childhood, but can also develop in your later years through injury, continuous muscle strain, or even failed surgery.

While surgery is the top choice for most people, there are some strategies you can use to improve the symptoms of scoliosis. One of the most important and successful strategies is exercising. By doing some simple exercise, your back may begin to realign and the symptoms of your scoliosis will decrease.

Read on to find out about 5 exercises for scoliosis, how to do them correctly, and how they can help your pain symptoms.

1. Upward and Downward Dog

Get into a prone plank position with your arms straight, and then push your hips back and up as far as possible. Hold this for 2 seconds, and then lower your hips down to the floor without causing discomfort. Make sure to do this exercise over 3 sets of about 5 to 10 reps.

Upward and Downward Dog are standard back stretching exercises. They allow for your spine to line up straight and can be useful in improving your posture. The movement between upward and downward dog allows for added flexibility.

If you feel discomfort or pain, you may be stretching the muscles in your back too much. Be sure to limit how far you push yourself when doing this exercise, especially when you first start.

2. Back Stretch

In terms of simplicity, this back stretch is the premium. All you really have to do is stand up straight with your arms stretched out in front of your chest. Once you do that, be sure to lace your fingers together as if you’re cracking your knuckles, and push out.

The simplicity of this exercise does not change how much it helps you. The key to this exercise is to hold it as much as possible without it causing you too much pain. This will also allow for your back muscles to extend further in order to balance out your posture and reduce the pain you feel.

3. Overhead Stretch

If you want to go back to your childhood days, the overhead stretch is a terrific way to do that. All you’ll need to do is sit legs crossed against a wall. When you do that, take a ball or rolled up towel and lift it slowly above your head. Be sure to keep your elbows up against the wall in order to keep your posture set.

The key to this stretch is working against gravity to make your muscles do the work. When your muscles get this workout done, the added resistance provided by gravity will make your muscles stronger as well as more flexible, in order to make the stretching easier and to make yourself feel better.

If you’re up for a challenge, add a small amount of weight to this workout. If you want to lift dumbbells or other weighted items, your muscles will grow stronger while also being more flexible. Be careful not to add too much, though, because your muscles may become too strained or you can risk additional injury to yourself.

4. Swimming

While most sports, especially contact sports, are strongly advised against when you have scoliosis, not all sports are out of line. Swimming, for example, can be a great activity for you to take on even with scoliosis. Whether you’re swimming for pleasure or looking to become the next Michael Phelps, it’s an amazing activity to pursue.

Swimming is a great sport that promotes flexibility throughout the entire body, but some strokes can target flexibility in your back. The backstroke, for example, makes it so that all your muscle movements are well balanced and everything is equally stretched out. On top of that, the near-weightless environment makes it so that your body is not susceptible to the dangers that impact exercises, like running, may have.

There are some dangers to too much swimming, though. If you suffer from thoracic scoliosis, swimming laps in the pool for hours on end can raise your risk of having your spine flatten, which will cause even more pain and long-term trouble in general.

If you’re a competitive person and are looking for a sport to do that will not cause you too much direct pain, swimming is one of many great exercises for scoliosis that has all-around health benefits, not just directly dealing with scoliosis.

5. Yoga

Yoga, and all of the stretching that goes with it, is a great way to deal with scoliosis pain. There are several yoga poses that will allow people with scoliosis to breathe more effectively, develop core strength, and make their back muscles more flexible so as to deal with the pain of scoliosis.

There are both good and bad stretches for people with scoliosis. Good stretches include the Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, and Cat Pose. These stretches all help with balance and posture while not pushing the back too hard.

Unfortunately, there are many stretches that can cause further damage to people with scoliosis. Stretches such as the shoulder stand or bending the rib cage can cause curves to worsen and add unnecessary strain to the back muscles, potentially making them weaker.

If you are looking to use yoga as a way to alleviate scoliosis pain, be careful about which stretches you do, and what muscle areas you are focusing on.

The Best Exercises for Scoliosis

If you are one of many people living with scoliosis, adding some basic exercises for scoliosis or stretching into your daily routine can make a big difference. It can reduce the pain you feel, improve your posture, and generally make your scoliosis more manageable.

If you believe that your scoliosis needs more help than just some simple exercises, you may want to check out our website. Our doctors can help refer you to an organized exercise program, or even corrective surgery when necessary.

spinal arthritis

5 Signs Your Back Pain May Be Spinal Arthritis

50% of all working Americans deal with back pain symptoms every single year. This doesn’t include the number of young adults who may have scoliosis or a back-related sports injury, or retired or unemployed personnel who also struggle with back pain.

When you think of everyone around you who understands how serious back pain can be, it’s nice to know you’re not alone. But, this doesn’t make the pain go away. You still need to get treatment for the pain you’re dealing with, especially if you think you have a condition like spinal arthritis.

Spinal arthritis causes the protective cartilage of the spine to wear down. This can lead to even more pain in the spine and lack of spinal mobility.

Keep reading to see if you have any of the common signs of spinal arthritis.

1. You Back Pain Is Getting Worse and Worse

The thing about spinal arthritis is that the pain doesn’t just come and go. It’s a constant pain that lingers throughout your day, every day.

The pain may increase and decrease depending on your level of activity or lack thereof. But, it’s still there as you do everything from making breakfast to driving to work, to completing your work out.

More importantly, spinal arthritis in the back causes the pain to get worse.

You may have first experienced pain in the lower back that spread up the spine. Or, you could have noticed a bit of pain in your mid-back at first which has now spread up or down. However it began, if your back pain is spreading on the spine and/or increasing in intensity, you’re likely dealing with spinal arthritis.

2. You Have a Stiff Back

Another sign of spinal arthritis is immobility in the back. If you have trouble bending over or moving your spine side to side, you have a stiff back. This means you feel pain when performing simple tasks – like tying your shoes or lifting a load of laundry.

The stiffness stays with you throughout the day. Even if your back pain goes away when you sit, stand, or lay down for an extended period of time, you feel the stiffness when you try to move and shift positions.

This isn’t something to brush off or feel like you have to live with. It’s a spinal condition worth getting medical attention for as soon as possible.

3. Your Back Pain Causes Trouble Sleeping

Does the back pain you feel throughout the day follow you to bed at night? Is it hard for you to find a comfortable position to sleep in because your spine hurts?

This is another sign of spinal arthritis worth paying attention to. As common as back pain can be, it’s not normal for it to affect your quality of sleep.

Not to mention, a low level of sleep quality can make your back pain even worse. When you sleep poorly, you don’t have as much energy to take on your day. This can result in lower levels of activity and spending more time with your back in a fixed position. It can also lead you to hunch over at work from being groggy, which doesn’t do any good for the spine, either.

4. You Wake up with Back Pain

Maybe it’s not that you have trouble falling asleep because of your back pain but that you feel it the moment you wake up. Maybe you feel it in your sleep and the next morning, too.

Either way, you’re likely dealing with spinal arthritis. Remember, this affects the cartilage of the spine, not the bones themselves (at least, not right away). Lack of cartilage means lack of cushion for the bones.

This could result in a herniated disc or a pinch in the nerves. Cartilage is essential for healthy bone functions and placement. When it starts to degenerate, the surrounding area may inflame and cause more discomfort than the body is already experiencing.

As such, the pain you feel when waking up in the morning is a lowering of the inflammation that occurred during sleep. If the pain lasts throughout the day at a more intense level than normal, it could be that your spinal arthritis has caused a herniated disc, which should be taken care of right away.

5. Other Parts of Your Body Also Hurt

As if all the pain and discomfort caused by spinal arthritis isn’t enough, keep in mind this condition can spread. Pain in the spine may lead to discomfort in the neck or a tingling in the legs.

This tingling can reach as far as your toes if you’re not careful and you go too long without treatment. The tingling may end up as more of a numb sensation throughout your whole leg or it can concentrate in a certain area such as the knee.

Still, there’s no sense in putting yourself through this when help is available.

Get the Help Your Spinal Arthritis Needs

It’s one thing to recognize the symptoms of spinal arthritis and understand you have it, and another to actually get the treatment your spine needs.

Don’t go another day without taking care of your back. Make an appointment with an experienced spinal professional right now to get the treatment you deserve.

Before you know it, your back will feel as good as new and your pain will feel practically nonexistent! Click here to discover more about spinal arthritis and what Dr. Carl Spivak, MD, and his team can do for you.

bulging disc treatment

The Best Bulging Disc Treatment for Pain Relief

Lower back pain is one of the most common health complaints worldwide. Approximately 31 million Americans are struggling with this issue at any given time. In some cases, the pain can worsen and become chronic.

This condition can have a variety of cases, from poor posture to arthritis and injuries. Sometimes, it results from a bulging disc.

Also known as a disc protrusion, bulging discs typically occur in the lower back between vertebrae L5 and S1 or L4 and L5. Their symptoms vary from one individual to another.

Some people may experience no symptoms at all, while others report excruciating pain.

Bulging disc treatment involves medications, physiotherapy, massage, or spinal manipulation. In severe cases, surgery is the only option.

Before discussing these options, let’s see what a bulging disc is in the first place.

What Is a Bulging Disc?

Spinal discs are cartilaginous joints that hold the vertebrae of your spine together. Their role is to absorb shock and allow movement at each spinal level. The spine has a total of 23 discs.

These anatomical structures are subject to wear and tear. At birth, about 80 percent of their content is water. As we age, our discs dehydrate and their cartilage becomes stiff, which may cause them to bulge out.

While aging is the most common cause of bulging discs, there are other factors that may contribute to this condition. These include:

  • A family history of spinal problems
  • Direct trauma
  • Sports injuries
  • Poor lifting technique
  • Muscle and posture imbalances
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Slips and falls

Sometimes, it takes just one wrong move to develop a bulging disc. That’s why people who participate in contact sports, as well as those whose jobs involve prolonged standing, driving, and repetitive lifting, are at higher risk.

Common mistakes, such as slouching in your chair and sitting with poor posture, can affect your discs too.

This problem is more common in middle-aged individuals. However, anyone can develop a bulging disc. Cigarette smoking, weight gain, and too much sitting can all increase your risk.

Bulging Disc Treatment Options

Unless your condition is severe, you may able to treat a bulging disc with rest and physiotherapy. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help.

Bulging disc treatment options depend largely on your symptoms. Doctors often recommend acupuncture, electrotherapy, ice packs, or soft tissue massage for minor and moderately bulging disc injuries. You might also want to consider chiropractic treatment.

Another option is stem cell disc regeneration. This procedure stimulates the formation of new disc cells, which helps restore and rebuild damaged discs. Patients experience a reduction in pain and discomfort – and improved quality of life.

Surgery is only recommended in severe cases. If your back pain doesn’t settle with a conservative approach, this may your only option.

Let’s take a look at the best ways to treat a bulging disc and what to expect.

Physiotherapy

A bulging disc can place extra pressure on the muscles and nerves around it, causing pain. Medications only provide temporary relief. Plus, they fail to address the root cause of your problem.

Physiotherapy has emerged as a safe, effective way to treat bulging discs. Certain techniques, such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound therapy, traction, joint mobilization, and soft tissue massage, can relieve pain and improve your range of motion.

Electrical stimulation, for instance, helps reduce muscle spasms. Joint mobilization can increase your flexibility and normalize joint function.

Your physiotherapist may also recommend stretching and strengthening exercises that reduce back pain and improve your posture. He will create a workout plan that can be safely done at home with little or no equipment. The end goal is to improve your body mechanics and restore your mobility.

Furthermore, a physical therapist can show you how to exercise safely and what movements to avoid. The wrong kind of exercises can worsen your symptoms. Leg lifts, sit-ups, overhead weightlifting, and running are just a few to mention.

In general, it’s recommended to avoid high-impact workouts, heavy lifting, and contact sports.

Steer clear of any movements that involve repetitive forward-bending at the waist. Instead, opt for low-impact aerobic activities and stretching.

Ice and Heat Therapy

Unless you have excruciating pain, ice and heat therapy can help.

Ice packs reduce inflammation and swelling around the compressed spinal nerve. All you need to do is to apply ice on the affected areas for about 10 minutes; repeat several times a day.

Heat therapy may relieve muscle spasms and ease your pain. It also helps increase oxygen and blood flow to your tissues, leading to faster healing.

Depending on your symptoms, you may alternate ice and heat. However, be aware that heat isn’t effective against inflammation; in this case, it’s better to use ice.

Stem Cell Disc Regeneration

This quick, minimally invasive procedure may offer complete relief from back pain and other symptoms associated with bulging discs. In clinical trials, it has been shown to slow or stop the degenerative process and increase disc hydration.

As its name suggests, stem cell disc regeneration aims to restore damaged discs to their normal, healthy state. It has been proven effective in the treatment of bulging discs, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and other similar conditions.

Since this procedure uses your body’s own stem cells, it’s well tolerated and unlikely to cause adverse reactions. After you receive the treatment, you’re free to go home and resume you

Don’t Let Pain Take Over Your Life

As you see, there are various options for bulging disc treatment. Choosing one over another depends on your symptoms and the severity of your condition.

The sooner you receive treatment, the better. Early intervention can lower your risk of developing complications.

You deserve a pain-free life. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Book an appointment andĀ find out how we can help!

how to treat a pinched nerve

How to Treat a Pinched Nerve: 10 Home Remedies for Quick Relief

Did you know that pinched nerves send your body warning signs such as pain? Do not ignore them.

In this article, we will examine ten things you can do at home to help relieve the pain associated with the pinched nerve.

Do you want to learn how to treat a pinched nerve? Then keep reading to find out!

How to Treat a Pinched Nerve at Home

Here we will go over ten things you can do at home to treat a pinched nerve.

1. Correct Your Posture

Did you know that bad posture could cause your pinched nerve? You want to make sure you are sitting correctly. Improve your usual sitting or standing position.

By doing this, you will help lessen pain while also alleviating compression or constrictive of the affected nerve.

If a pinched nerve is in your neck, make sure you have your chin in a neutral position. Do not keep it too far back or forwards. Make sure your shoulders are in an upright position.

When you are sitting, keep your back straight. When walking or standing, make sure your body is upright and straight. Try to keep these postures often so you can help the pinched nerve.

2. Have a Rest

No matter the location or reason behind your pinched nerve, make sure you rest the area that has been affected. Resting should not be underestimated as part of the healing process. In fact, it is hugely important for your recovery.

For example, a pinched nerve in a neck needs quite a bit of rest. Do not participate in activities like tennis or golf. Rest until the pain is gone.

Also, try to sleep longer. When you are asleep, your body is given a chance to focus on healing. Perhaps use a neck brace while sleeping. This will help limit movement. You won’t risk more injury.

Try sleeping on your back or side and not your stomach.

If your pinched nerve is in your lower back, keep your legs rested a few inches when sleeping. Slip a pillow beneath them.

3. Cold Compress

Applying a cold compress to the pinched nerve is a fantastic way to relieve some of the pain temporarily and quickly. The cold temperature will numb the area.

This will help with swelling, inflammation, and pain.

To make an ice pack, merely put ice cubes in a plastic bag. Seal it and wrap it up with a towel. Place the pack on the area and keep it there for ten minutes at a time. You can repeat this cooling treatment every hour.

Keep in mind that directly applying ice on the skin can trigger cold burns. Do not forget the towel and plastic bag.

4. Heat Compress

After experiencing the pinched nerve pain for twenty-four hours, it is now time to apply heat to the affected area.

By using heat, you will help the muscles relax that are surrounding the nerve. This will improve the flow of blood to the area of the damaged nerve.

Warm temperatures will speed up the healing process while also providing comfort.

First, you will get a washcloth. Soak it in warm water, then squeeze out the excess. Place this washcloth on the sore area and keep it there for ten minutes.

You can repeat this if you’d like. Another option is using a heating pad or hot water bottle.

5. Bathe in Epsom Salts

Did you know that Epsom salts give your body enough magnesium? This, in turn, helps heal and reduce nerve pain. Take an Epsom salt bath because your body will quickly absorb the magnesium.

Epsom salts also have anti-inflammatory properties. This will help your tight muscles relax that are surrounding the pinched nerve.

Only add one cup of Epsom salt to your warm bath water. Soak in the bath for twenty minutes. Do this twice a week until your symptoms reduce or disappear.

6. Massage with Warm Oil

Another great way to reduce the pain from a pinched nerve is by massaging your muscles with warm oil. This will help activate pressure points. In turn, blood flow will improve, stiff muscles will relax, mobility improves, and the pain lessens.

Try warm olive, mustard, or coconut oil along with a few drops of peppermint oil.

Gently rub on the affected area and massage for ten minutes.

Do two times a day until you see an improvement. You may need to ask for help if it’s in an area you can’t reach by yourself.

7. Castor Oil Compress

Castor oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it ideal for treating inflammation and pain created by a pinched nerve. Oil will help restore the nerve function.

Create a castor oil pack. Use pieces of wool flannel fabric and soak them in warm castor oil. Squeeze out excess oil and place the material on the pained area. Use a piece of plastic wrap to cover the square. Then cover it with a thin towel.

To keep the warmth of the oil, place a heating pad over the towel. You can do this every few hours a day.

8. Stretch Gently

Do some gentle stretches and gain relief from your pinched nerve. By stretching, blood flow will increase, and your stiff muscles will relax.

If the pinched nerve is around your neck, gently rotate it in a circular motion, both counterclockwise and clockwise. This movement will stretch out any irritated muscles. Shift your neck side to side and forward and backward.

If the pinched nerve is in your arm, gently rotate your wrists and arms, counterclockwise and clockwise.

9. Turmeric

Turmeric is one of those spices that is special. If can help relieve inflammation and pain connected with the pinched nerve. Its soothing properties help lessen the symptoms.

Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to coconut or almond milk. Bring to a boil and then add cinnamon. Strain the liquid and add honey. Taste this milk once or twice a day for a couple of weeks.

10. Acupuncture or Acupressure

These are alternative therapies that can treat a pinched nerve. They will relieve the pain while also restoring the nerve function.

They stimulate certain spots on the body. This releases chemicals and allows the person to experience a change in their perception of pain.

Feel Better

We hope you found this article helpful. Next time you experience a pinched nerve, remember these ten different tips on how to treat a pinched nerve.

If the pain is continuing to persist, please contact us today to help. You may need to consider an epidural steroid injection or surgery.

failed back surgery syndrome

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: What Is It and How Can I Avoid It?

If you have a condition or pain that leads you down the path of getting back or spinal surgery, chances are you want that surgery to be a success. But when it comes to back surgery, there is the potential that it could fail or your condition could worsen.

This negative result of back surgery is generalized under the term “failed back surgery syndrome” or “FBSS”. This sounds scary and discouraging, but the good news is there are steps you can take to avoid FBSS and have the successful surgical outcome you’re looking for.

In this article, we’re going to go over exactly what FBSS is, how it’s different from post-operative pain, and what you can do to avoid it.

What Is Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?

As we said earlier, failed back surgery syndrome is a general term for patients who experience an unchanged or worsened condition after getting back surgery.

This syndrome is distinct from the pain you experience post-surgery. Most people will experience pain, stiffness, and discomfort following surgery. FBSS isn’t pain caused by the surgery; it’s pain that occurs as a result of a failed or unsuccessful procedure that can lead to new types of pain and symptoms.

Symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

The most common symptom of FBSS is chronic pain. This pain could be the same pain experienced pre-op, it could be that same pain worsened, or it could be pain in new areas.

Other symptoms of FBSS include:

  • Difficulty recuperating post-surgery
  • Sharp pains in the back
  • Back spasms
  • Decreased mobility/flexibility
  • Numbness
  • Radiating pain in the leg, hip, arms, etc
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

It’s important to distinguish between normal post-op recuperation and post-op pain from the abnormal chronic pain/symptoms experienced by those with failed back surgery syndrome.

Causes of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

There are a few potential causes of FBSS.

Incorrect/Unnecessary Procedure

First is the idea that back problems and pain can’t always be specifically identified. Back surgery can go in a fix something that is thought to be the cause of your pain, but sometimes whatever gets fixed wasn’t actually the cause of your pain.

When this happens, the true issue is never fixed, which leads to continued pain post-surgery. Also, this means that surgery was performed on an area that didn’t necessarily need it, which can lead to new symptoms and pain as a result.

Failed Procedure

FBSS can also be caused by the procedure itself not going as it’s supposed to. Many back procedures have high failure rates. This could be because of an implantation failure, failure to fuse during a spinal fusion procedure, etc.

Scar Tissue

Sometimes scar tissue can form around the area where the surgery was performed. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and immobility, all of which are symptoms of FBSS.

How to Reduce Your Risk

While there are never any guarantees when it comes to back surgery, there are steps you can take to minimize your risks, help your body heal, and avoid failed back surgery syndrome and the symptoms that come with it.

Trust Your Doctor

Having back surgery is a big deal that can literally change your life. You need to know that you can trust your doctor and surgeons to do the best job that they can even with a surgery that isn’t 100% guaranteed to help you.

Take the time to get consults from a few different doctors. This will help you get a feel for how different doctors would handle your condition so you can know you’re getting the right procedure.

We mentioned that sometimes FBSS is caused when a procedure is done unnecessarily or is the incorrect procedure for what’s causing your pain and symptoms. Consulting multiple doctors and finding one you really trust will help ensure that you’re getting the right procedure from a competent and talented physician.

You can also look up reviews of different surgeons to see other patient’s outcomes.

Weight Loss

But even the best doctors have patients that experience FBSS. The best things you can do to reduce your risk of FBSS is to adjust some things in your life to promote healing and reduce pressure on your back.

Weight is a big risk factor for back pain. If you’re overweight or obese, getting into the normal weight range for your height can take a significant amount of pressure off your back, which can relieve both pain and stress.

Smoking

Cutting out tobacco can also help promote healing. Smoking has been shown to slow down healing times and increase the rate at which the spine degenerates. Smoking could result in a failed procedure, so be sure to stop before surgery.

Other Lifestyle Changes

Finally, you should adjust any activities or positions that lead to or contributed to your condition in the first place. All the surgery in the world won’t help you if you go back to the same damaging behaviors you were doing pre-surgery.

If sitting in an uncomfortable office chair all day was a factor of your lower back pain, don’t go back to doing that post surgery. Get a proper chair that supports your back in a healthy way.

Were you doing incorrect yoga stretches with bad form that lead to your condition? Don’t continue to do those stretches after surgery or you could end up with a worsened, or unchanged, condition (aka FBSS).

Make a plan with your doctor to adjust your lifestyle to promote healing after surgery. They’ll be able to tell you what position to sleep in, what stretches to do, and what things you should not be doing in order to have the best chance at success.

Bottom Line

Failed back surgery syndrome is an unfortunate reality when it comes to back surgery. No back surgery is 100% guaranteed to work. But, there are steps you can take to maximize your chance of success.

Speak to your doctor about your procedure’s success and failure rates and what you can do to prevent a failed outcome. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us or book an appointment online.

arthritis of the spine

8 Amazing Exercises to Alleviate Arthritis of the Spine

There are no bones about it: arthritis of the spine is a tough break. The condition is painful and it often takes a combination of treatments to ease the pain.

If you’re suffering from arthritis of the spine, we have good news! There are easy exercises you can do at home to reduce your pain. Some of them focus on good posture, and others focus on strengthening your core. All of them, however, can lead to a healthier life with less pain.

Exercises to Reduce Arthritis of the Spine

The right exercises can reduce the pain of arthritis at any stage. Whether it’s just begun or you’ve spent years trying treatment after treatment, these exercises can complement any treatment plan.

1. Master Good Posture

This isn’t an exercise per se, but it can make a world of difference. You’ll also use it in other exercises, so it’s important to learn.

To improve your posture, imagine an invisible string holding you up. It starts at your hips and runs up through your spine and comes out the top of your head. Be sure to keep your shoulders down.

Practicing good posture helps your arthritis of the spine in several ways. First, it reduces the chances that a spinal misalignment will add to your discomfort. Second, it strengthens your core muscles. These muscles protect your spine, reducing your arthritis symptoms.

2. Perform Side Lifts

This exercise builds your back muscles to protect your spine and soothe arthritis pain. To start, stand with proper posture and put your hands at your sides. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.

Without moving the lower half of your body, bend at the waist to one side. Bend as far as you can without pain, although you should feel your muscles stretching. Use your back muscles to stand back up straight.

You should perform this exercise ten times on each side. As you get stronger, you can increase the difficulty with weights. Hold a small weight in your hand on the side you’re exercising.

3. Go on Regular Walks

It sounds simple, but walking is a great exercise for arthritis of the spine. Walk lightly so you keep the impact on your back to a minimum. Try to walk on surfaces with some “give” like an athletic track.

For further improvement, practice good posture as you walk. Gently engage your core muscles throughout your exercise. In fact, you should also mind your posture as you do chores and move around your house.

4. Practice Tai Chi

Many people talk about yoga as an exercise plan to reduce arthritis. While it can be effective, it tends to put more pressure on your joints than people expect. Even beginners’ yoga can also be too much of a challenge for some people.

Try tai chi instead. Tai chi is an exercise form that’s gentle on your joints. It focuses on slow movements that stretch your muscles and improve your balance.

Depending on how much guidance you want, you can find tai chi classes in most towns. If you prefer to try it at home, there are plenty of tai chi videos on YouTube. Look for routines that are designed for arthritis relief.

5. Try Planking

You might remember planking as an internet trend from several years ago. People would take pictures and videos of themselves laying straight like a board in crazy places. The planking we’re talking about, on the other hand, is a type of exercise.

Start by getting on the floor on your hands and knees with your back straight. If you’re familiar with yoga, this is the tabletop pose. Be sure to use a yoga mat or find another way to cushion your knees.

From this position, straighten one leg and lift it so it forms a straight line with your back. Keep your head facing forward. Hold this position for six seconds before putting your leg back down. Do this for ten reps on each side.

As you get stronger, you can increase the difficulty. While you extend one leg, try extending the opposite arm straight forward. You can also start holding the position for longer.

6. Use a Stability Ball to Do Half Crunches

A stability ball is a large inflatable ball, usually about the height of your knee. You can use it for many types of exercises, but this one is great for people with arthritis.

Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Lay back until your back is supported by the ball at around a 45-degree angle. You might need to walk your feet forward t reach this angle.

From this position, use your abdominal muscles to lift your upper body. It’s as if you’re doing the second half of a sit-up, and it’s easier on your back than laying on the floor. Do as many of these half crunches as you can, increasing the number as you get stronger.

7. Try the W Stretch

This stretch targets your back in a direct, easy way to relieve your arthritis pain. Stand with food posture with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your arms and hold them out with your palms facing forward. Your arms should form a “W” shape.

In this position, squeeze your shoulder blades together as much as you can without pain. Hold this stretch for three seconds before returning to your original position. Repeat the exercise ten times. As you get stronger, you can increase the holding time or the number of repetitions.

8. Perform Pelvic Tilts

To do a pelvic tilt, lay on the floor with your knees bent like triangles. You’ll look like you’re about to do a sit-up but your arms are at your sides.

Use your abdominal muscles to tilt your pelvis toward your head without leaving the floor. You won’t see much movement but you’ll feel your core muscles engaging. Repeat this exercise ten times.

Treating Your Arthritis of the Spine

Arthritis of the spine doesn’t have a one-and-done treatment method. It’s a matter of staying on top of your condition and finding the combination of treatments that work for you. Any and all of the exercises above can complement almost any medical treatment.

If you’re looking for more direct treatment options, schedule an appointment with our spinal surgeons.

bulging disc vs herniated disc

Bulging Disc vs Herniated Disc: Is There Any Difference?

54% of Americans have had back or neck pain for at least five years. If you’re dealing with back pain, you’re not alone.

You may be wondering if you have a herniated disc or a bulging disc and whether there is any difference between them. If so, this post is for you. Read on to learn everything you need to know about a bulging disc vs herniated disc.

Bulging Disc vs Herniated Disc: What’s the Difference?

Before you look for treatment, it’s a good idea to become educated about your back pain. While it may seem like the terms ‘bulging disc’ and ‘herniated disc’ are used interchangeably, they are actually very different.

What is a Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc is sometimes called a disc protrusion. Usually, someone who has a bulging disc won’t have any symptoms. However, if the disc is compressing on the spinal cord or an adjacent nerve, this can cause disability and discomfort.

As we get older, the outer part of our discs naturally weaken. This fibrous portion can bulge when pressure from the central part of the disc stretches to the outer rim.

Since bulging discs don’t always have symptoms, many people may have a bulging disc without knowing it. However, once the disc begins pinching a nerve, they’ll feel pain traveling to the feet, legs, butt, and hips. If the disc is bulging in the cervical spine, you may feel pain radiating from the neck down your arm to your fingers.

Most of the time, bulging discs are found in the lumbar area (lower back). This will usually be between L4 and L5 of your lumbar vertebrae and between L5 and S1. Your sciatic nerve runs along here, so if the bulging disc crowds one of the six nerves along your spine, you can expect to feel sciatic pain. This can extend down your leg and all the way to your foot.

What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc is what will typically happen if a bulging disc is not treated appropriately.

A bulging disc means that pressure is causing the fibrous outer part of your disc to bulge. But a herniated disc is when this outer layer has a hole or is so thin that the inner portion extrudes into the spinal canal.

One way to think of this is by picturing your favorite type of filled donut. If you put pressure on the donut, you’ll see it flatten slightly and the fluid may move towards the sides. But a herniated disc is when this “donut” ruptures and some of the filling begins leaking out.

Herniated discs are much more likely to be painful since they’ll usually protrude further, making it more likely to irritate your nerves.

Sometimes, herniated discs are also called slipped discs. While you’re more at risk of a herniated disc as you age, certain motions may cause a herniated disc- particularly if it’s already bulging. People who have a sedentary lifestyle, weak muscles, and/or are overweight are also more likely to develop a herniated disc.

The Symptoms of Bulging or Herniated Discs

Keep in mind that if you don’t have any pressure on a nerve from a bulging or herniated disc, you may not even be aware that you have a problem.

Here are some of the symptoms of bulging or herniated discs:

  • Burning sensations
  • Weakness
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Soreness and stiffness
  • Cramping
  • Muscle spasms
  • Radiating pain
  • General discomfort
  • Loss of range of motion
  • And more

You’re much more likely to have symptoms from a herniated disc as a bulging disc is more likely to stay contained in one area.

Diagnosing Disc Problems

If you think you may have a bulging or herniated disc, it’s best to get it checked out. Your doctor will check your back for any pain or discomfort and may ask you to move into various positions or lie flat.

You may need an MRI, which uses radio waves to create an image of your back’s internal structure. This will confirm where your bulging or herniated disc is, and the nerves it is affecting.

Finally, your doctor or specialist may also perform a discogram. This is when you have a special dye injected into your discs. A discogram helps narrow down the source of your disc pain.

Treating a Bulging or Herniated Disc

Once a doctor confirms that you have a bulging disc, they’ll usually recommend a few different measures. Often, a bulging disc will resolve on its own. If it doesn’t, your physician is likely to choose a more aggressive approach so any symptoms can be addressed.

As soon as you’ve been diagnosed with a bulging disc, you’re likely to try the following treatments:

  • Lifestyle changes and weight loss
  • Avoiding lifting
  • A short rest period
  • Ice packs
  • Stretching techniques
  • Heat therapy
  • Targeted exercises from a physical therapist
  • Anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers
  • Cortisone (steroid) injections
  • Spinal decompression therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic treatment

Once you have a herniated disc, many specialists will start with conservative treatment such as physical therapy and medications. If your symptoms don’t improve within six weeks, you may need surgery. This is particularly true if you’re experiencing loss of bowel or bladder control, difficulty walking or standing, or weakness and numbness.

Often, a skilled surgeon will be able to just remove the portion of the disc that’s protruding. Very rarely, an entire disc will need to be removed. In this case, your vertebrae will be fused together to keep your spine stable.

Wrapping Up

If you think you may have a bulging or herniated disc, now’s the time to get it looked at. By starting treatment early, you have a greater chance of resolving the issue and avoiding surgery.

Want to talk to a professional about your back pain? We can help. Book an appointment online today so you can get to the bottom of your back pain and stop living your life in pain.

vertebral compression fracture

The Link Between Osteoporosis and Vertebral Compression Fracture

Did you know that more than 54 million Americans are at greater risk of breaking a bone?

We’re being literal here! That’s because about 10 million of these individuals have osteoporosis, while the rest suffer from low bone density. In any case, both groups have a higher tendency of breaking a bone.

Even if they don’t, they can still develop a condition called vertebral compression fracture. About 1.5 million cases of these “cracks” occur every year in the U.S. Most of them happen in people with osteoporosis or low bone density.

If you fall under any of these two high-risk groups, it’s a must to pay more attention to your spine (and general bone) health. There are ways to treat and protect yourself from a compression fracture.

Keep reading to learn about these treatments and prevention tactics!

Vertebral Compression Fracture in 50 Words

It’s a type of fracture (think cracks or breaks) affecting the spine. Also known as a spinal or lumbar compression fracture, this injury often results from osteoporosis.

In general, health professionals diagnose this for spinal vertebral bones that have lost anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of their height from a fracture.

What about Osteoporosis?

Did you know that osteoporosis literally means “porous bone?” That’s because the condition causes bone loss (including loss of bone strength). This results in a greater risk of fractures.

Osteoporosis is a “silent disease” since many don’t notice its development. In many cases, it doesn’t come with symptoms – not even discomfort or pain – until it results in a fracture.

This disease can even make sufferers shorter (as it decreases their height). It also causes dowager’s hump, a condition that gives the upper back a rounded appearance.

When Osteoporosis Is the Culprit of Compression Fractures

Osteoporosis doesn’t cause all compression fractures. But if you suffer from it, you’re more likely to sustain such bone injuries.

Thinning and weakening of the bones are part of the aging process. But osteoporosis makes them worse. It causes severe weakening of the bones, which then makes them more susceptible to breaking.

This means that osteoporosis sufferers can fracture themselves even with the simplest activities. Extending the arms to reach for something, twisting to look around, and even coughing or sneezing may lead to a fracture.

That’s why even the slightest excess pressure on a weakened spine can cause it to fracture. When this happens, the front of the vertebra cracks. Over time, it decreases in height.

Signs You Have Spinal Compression Fractures

Back pain – check. Intensified back pain when standing or walking – check. Loss of restricted spinal mobility – check.

All these are common compression fracture symptoms. Especially back pain, which can affect as much as 80 percent of the population.

Note that back pain is so common that it’s a symptom of many other conditions. For instance, those who have lumbar degenerative disc disease also suffer from back pain.

The pain that comes with a compression fracture often affects the area near the back. In many cases, these fractures develop near the waistline. But it can also occur in the mid-chest or the lower back area.

Moving also makes the pain more apparent or severe. This is especially true when you change positions. Or even when you cough or sneeze.

Another sign that you have a spinal compression fracture is when lying down or resting relieves the pain.

Keep in mind that while acute (short-term) back pain is more common with vertebral fractures, these bone injuries can still result in chronic (long-term) pain. Not addressing it right away can also cause your internal organs to crowd.

Furthermore, the pain you experience can lead to loss of physical activity and exercise. This may result in muscle loss and weakness. All these can affect your self-esteem.

The Good News

All these stats and facts about compression fractures can make anyone concerned, especially if you already suffer from osteoporosis. But don’t lose to your condition (and pain) yet!

First off, you don’t have to worry too much about spinal cord damage or nerve injuries. That’s because most compression fractures only damage the front area of the vertebral column.

You do need to address your osteoporosis right away. Treating the root of fractures is key to preventing them from worsening and growing in number. Also, osteoporosis treatment is very effective in most cases.

Know that even simple changes in sleeping positions can help ease back pain. For instance, you can try putting a pillow between the knees and sleeping on your side.

Besides adding calcium supplements to your diet, you should also stock up on vitamin D. If you smoke, keep reducing it until you quit. Not only will this help with your osteoporosis and spinal compression fractures, but it will also benefit your lungs, skin, and teeth.

When Your Condition Warrants Surgery

Sometimes, spinal compression fractures can still cause pain even after you implement all the above-mentioned tips. If resting, pain medication, or back bracing didn’t help, consider surgery.

Today, you’ll find minimally-invasive surgical procedures for osteoporosis and compression fractures. There’s Kyphoplasty, for instance.

Also known as “Balloon Vertebroplasty,” this spinal compression fracture treatment helps in restoring the natural shape of the spine. It also helps ease the pain, with some patients feeling its beneficial effects right away.

This is only one of your treatment options, though. To find out if you’re a good candidate for this treatment and others, it’s best to consult a spinal disorder specialist.

Be Back on Your Back in No Time

Suffering from a vertebral compression fracture stop you from living your life. With advancements in spinal health technology, you can be back on your feet (and back) and prevent osteoporosis complications.

You should also check our other back pain management tips to help you live a healthier, more comfortable life!

What is Kyphoplasty

What is Kyphoplasty? What You Need to Know About This Minimally Invasive Treatment

We live in a fantastic time in which medical technology is moving at the speed of light. As many new advancements as the general public hear about, we as physicians learn about so many more.

One of the most innovative and helpful procedures technology has helped us create is kyphoplasty. If you’re not in the spinal surgery field, you may be asking, “What is kyphoplasty?” You aren’t alone, but I’m here to help with all the details you need to know about this minimally invasive surgery.

What is Kyphoplasty and What Does Kyphoplasty Treat?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that treats spinal compression fractures.

A compression fracture happens when a bone is under too much pressure. With time, the bone can’t take the stress and it cracks. While it happens in the back, a compression fracture tends to be extremely painful.

Spinal compression fractures are most common among osteoporosis patients. These patients are losing bone mass and bone strength, so compression fractures can happen more easily.

Unfortunately, we can’t stabilize a compression fracture in a vertebra the same way you use a cast to stabilize a broken arm. Kyphoplasty, however, is a procedure that stabilizes the fractured vertebra. This relieves pain, allows the vertebra to heal, and restores the shape of the vertebra.

How Does Kyphoplasty Work?

Kyphoplasty is unique because it’s a minimally invasive spinal surgery. Traditional spinal surgery is notorious for its long and painful recovery time. For many patients with vertebral compression fractures, kyphoplasty is a more manageable alternative.

While it is minimally invasive, this procedure is still a surgery. However, it’s often done under local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia. This means that you’ll be awake during the surgery, but you won’t feel any pain.

Local anesthesia alone provides a strong benefit. When you go under general anesthesia, you need a breathing tube and other measures. It gives your body much more to recover from, so your healing period is longer. Local anesthesia takes away this element of your surgery.

The Kyphoplasty Procedure

The entire kyphoplasty procedure only takes about 30-45 minutes. This can vary based on how many vertebrae are fractured.

You’ll lay face-down on the operating table. After your anesthesia takes effect, the surgeon will make an incision near the fractured vertebra. The incision is only half an inch long, so scarring is minimal.

Through this incision, the surgeon will insert a tiny tube into the center of the fractured vertebra. This tube contains a small medical balloon. Your surgeon will inflate this balloon inside the fractured vertebra to create a cavity that restores the bone’s size and shape.

After the cavity is created, the surgeon deflates and removes the balloon. The surgeon immediately injects a specialized solution called PMMA into the bone. Think of PMMA as a concrete designed for bones.

The PMMA fills the new cavity and hardens within about five minutes. This stabilizes the vertebra’s restored shape and relieves the pain of the fracture. After the PMMA has hardened, your procedure is over.

Keep in mind that there are a few different ways to perform kyphoplasty. While a balloon is a common method, some surgeons use specialized nets or balls instead. It may depend on the best method for your unique fracture.

What Can I Expect After My Kyphoplasty Procedure?

Understandably, one of the most common questions about spinal surgery is, “How long will my recovery take?” Fortunately, kyphoplasty is known for its short recovery time.

Most patients can go home the same day as their procedure. However, some will need to stay in the hospital overnight. It depends on the number of vertebrae your surgery treated, your general health, and any complications from your surgery.

While you will have some pain in the surgery area at first, you can expect to start feeling better within two days. Every patient’s healing speed varies, though, so your surgeon can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Your timeline for returning to work and your other daily activities will depend on your job and your healing rate. Keep in mind that you will need to wait for several weeks before you can resume an exercise program.

After surgery, your surgeon will give you detailed instructions about your recovery period. These instructions are tailored to your specific needs, so follow them closely.

How Do I Know if I’m a Candidate for Kyphoplasty?

As with any other medical procedure, kyphoplasty is only successful in the right patients. Your eligibility will depend on your specific type of compression fracture.

As a result, the only way to know if you’re a candidate is to visit a spinal surgeon. The surgeon’s office can either perform x-rays or refer you to an x-ray center to determine if you’re a candidate.

Not everyone with a compression fracture knows that this is the cause of their pain. If you have back pain, it’s important to see a doctor for a diagnosis before trying to seek treatment.

Will Health Insurance Cover My Kyphoplasty?

In many cases, health insurance covers kyphoplasty. The key is that they need to recognize that it is medically necessary in your case. This depends on your documentation like x-rays and your surgeon’s assessment.

The Next Steps for Kyphoplasty

Now you have answers to your questions like “What is kyphoplasty,” “How long does it take to recover from kyphoplasty,” and more. So what’s the next step?

If you have a vertebra with a compression fracture, kyphoplasty may be the best option. To find out, contact Dr. Carl Spivak for a consultation. He’ll be able to determine if you’re a candidate for kyphoplasty or if another form of treatment will work better.

If you have unidentified back pain, you can also schedule an appointment with Dr. Spivak. He can discuss your symptoms and guide you through the tests to accurately diagnose your condition and determine your treatment options.

vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty

What’s the Difference Between Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?

Have you been diagnosed with a compression fracture within your vertebra?

If so, you’re likely tired of dealing with limited mobility and sometimes extreme pain as a result.

However, we also understand that you’re nervous about the possibility of having to undergo a major surgery to correct the problem.

The good news?

Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures with a high success rate of healing fractures in the vertebra.

But what is the difference between the two, and which one is likely the best option for you?

Read on to learn more about kyphoplasty vs vertebroplasty, and where you can go to find the help you need.

Understanding the Vertebroplasty Procedure

The first thing you need to know about the vertebroplasty procedure?

You’ll be awake — although heavily sedated — throughout the process.

Like kyphoplasty, this procedure us designed to help you to overcome compression fractures in your spine and back.

However, the vertebra in your back won’t actually be moved or repositioned. Usually, your body will be physically manipulated while you’re on the table to put you in the best position for the upcoming injection.

You’ll be face down, and a tiny needle will be put in your vertebra. (Of course, you won’t be able to feel it!) Next, a type of cement is pushed into the area where the fracture is located within the vertebra.

It should take about 15 minutes for the cement to completely dry. Once the drying process is complete, your vertebra will be stabilized.

Usually, you’ll need to stay on your back for a full hour afterward, and will likely be prescribed bed rest immediately afterward.

Vertebroplasty Risks

Of course, like any procedure, vertebroplasty is not without risk.

The good news is that these risks rarely occur. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins, there are only complications about 1-3% of the time.

You may experience issues like a loss of blood, hemorrhaging, a slight fever, or even problems with wet cement flowing to other parts of the body.

You should also expect to experience a fair amount of discomfort immediately after the procedure is finished.

This should lessen over the days following the procedure, and should be gone within about a week. If the pain is severe or persists, make sure that you get in touch with your doctor as soon as you can.

Understanding Kyphoplasty

If you’re not eligible for vertebroplasty, or if your doctor thinks that it’s not a suitable procedure for you?

You may be an excellent candidate for kyphoplasty. Usually, this procedure is a better fit for patients that are dealing with bone fractures that have severe pain.

While vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are both surgical procedures, in the latter, you’ll usually be under twilight anesthesia.

The good news?

The kyphoplasty success rate is currently fixed at about 90%.

So, how does it work?

You’ll start out, as you did with vertebroplasty, on your stomach, face down on the operating table.

Interestingly, this procedure actually uses a small balloon, similar to ones made use of in heart surgery, to help to fix the vertebra.

It’s filled up with a small amount of liquid, and then slowly inflated. It’s also helping in fixing any kind of wedging that has occurred as a result of breaks. As the procedure progresses, the cavity is filled with strong bone cement at a low pressure.

Once everything is completed, your doctor will deflate the balloon and, of course, remove it from the spine.

Just like in the vertebroplasty procedure, you’ll then need to wait for the cement to fully dry. You may experience a slight discomfort, but will soon be feeling much better.

Potential Kyphoplasty Complications

As with vertebroplasty, the largest potential risk to the patient remains the possibility that the cement might leak out of the injection site in the vertebra and into other parts of the body, but the risk is less than vertebroplasty.

Though these risks can be lessened with the use of x-ray guidance, if it happens, it can present a serious issue.

This is because the cement, if it leaks, can actually press down on your nerves or even your spinal cord. However, it’s important to remember that this, while not impossible, is a rare event.

Additionally, you may experience a feeling of numbness, especially in the back area. In other cases, you may notice that you feel the sensation of tingling.

You may also deal with an infection at the site of the injection, and blood loss just as you would with vertebroplasty.

This is why it’s so important to be honest and upfront with your doctor about any medications you’re currently taking. The same goes for any pre-existing health conditions that you may have been diagnosed with.

Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty: Wrapping Up

We hope that this post has helped you to understand both how the procedures of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty work, as well as the potential risks associated with them.

Of course, the quality of your care and your recovery is entirely dependent on the surgeon and team of doctors that you choose to work with.

When it comes to the health of your spine and back, you shouldn’t take any chances.

At Executive Spine Surgery, we offer minimally invasive procedures performed by a board-certified surgeon. Our goal is to work to create an individualized treatment plan, while also minimizing the length of your recovery.

Get in touch with us today to learn more, and to schedule a consultation.

We look forward to placing you on the path to recovery as soon as possible.