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.

back pain massage

How Back Pain Massage Therapy Can Help You Feel Better

Ever feel like you’re in more pain every single day?

A surprising cause for your pain might come from your back. This discomfort can affect you while you sit at work, while you walk around, and even while you try to sleep at night.

Back pain massage may be the key to a healthier and happier you. Recent studies show 50% of participants who get regular massages report significant improvement of their pain symptoms.

Some felt such pain relief that they were no longer considered clinically disabled!

Before deciding if massage therapy is right for you, you need to understand what it is.

What Is Back Pain Massage?

Back pain massage is a specialized form of neuromuscular massage therapy. It concentrates on pain in your back. The act of massaging the affected area can bring immediate pain relief, and provide longer-term benefits as well.

In the same study we mentioned earlier, 75% of those who reported improvement after their massage therapy said they still felt better three months later without further therapy sessions.

Pleasure or Pain

As with any other neuromuscular massage, there is the potential for mild pain during a session.

Intense back pain sometimes requires intense massage to induce relief. However, the overall experience is pleasurable, and it can bring you a number of surprise benefits.

Headache Relief

You may be surprised to learn that a back massage can actually relieve your headaches, too.

Recent research discovered it only takes one session of massage therapy to ease the pain of patients, including those who regularly suffer from headaches.

The reason behind this discovery? Many headaches are caused by tension in different muscles within your body. Back pain massage helps to ease that tension and relieve pressure on your nerves, leading to instant relief.

Natural Muscle Relaxer

Much of the pain in your back and other parts of your body comes from having sore or tense muscles.

Massaging the affected areas can provide immediate relief in a way similar to rubbing your elbows after banging them on a hard surface.

Back pain massage provides a healthy and natural way of relieving your muscles and making you feel better.

The Cure to Posture Pain

We now understand the different kinds of muscle pain associated with sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

However, not everyone has the money or space to install something like a standing desk to counteract this pain.

Back pain massage helps provide immense relief to pain in your neck and shoulders, areas of your body most affected by sitting at a desk all day.

Massage restores your body and posture back to its proper balance and can make you both healthier and more productive.

Improved Immunity

Going into the winter season, many people are concerned about catching a cold or the flu. Another surprising benefit of massage therapy is that it boosts your immunity and helps you ward off sickness.

Your immunity is powered by white blood cells within your body. The act of massage and other forms of this therapy serves to increase the number of white blood cells within your body.

This uptick gives you a healthy and natural defense against all kinds of illnesses.

Less Anxiety

In addition to physical problems such as back pain and sore muscles, many people suffer anxiety and depression. A massage serves to provide relief for both of these maladies almost instantly.

Human touch releases oxytocin and other chemicals within your body. Patients who regularly get massages have reduced feelings of depression and anxiety. They also report an increase in their overall happiness.

Better Sleep

A good night’s sleep is difficult for many people to obtain. Busy work schedules and family lives make it hard to catch enough Zs. Many people struggle to get to sleep and stay that way the entire night.

Massage therapy has been shown to help patients sleep better, particularly those who have difficulty falling asleep. Research has shown regular massages work on patients of varying age levels, including young infants.

Patients undergoing stressful treatments such as chemotherapy also find massages helpful. This therapy provides a healthy and natural way to relax. It also reduces anxiety and provides a better sleeping experience.

No Lengthy Recovery Time

Those experiencing back pain often worry about treatment involving surgery. Surgeries often have lengthy recovery times, greatly impacting your family life and workplace productivity. Fortunately, back pain massage provides a better alternative.

It’s a completely outpatient procedure, offering a personalized treatment for your pain, getting you back to enjoying your life. You’ll also have peace of mind as trusted massage professionals help you find pain relief.

Treat Yourself to Expert Care

For Dr. Carl Spivak, your back pain relief is his profession. He’s both a neurosurgeon and the President of Executive Spine Surgery P.C. He offers a wide variety of treatments and surgeries.

Dr. Spivak is highly trained and belongs to a number of prestigious organizations, including the North American Spine Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

One look at his patient’s testimonials and you will see Dr. Spivak’s ability to take away your back pain and transform your life for the better.

To begin your journey toward being free of back pain, call Dr. Spivak’s office at 908-452-5612 today or book online. With his expert care, you’ll become healthier, happier, and more productive. Come find out what it means to be flexible and pain-free!

stem cell for back pain

Stem Cell for Back Pain: What Is It and How Exactly Does It Work?

Almost eighty percent of all adults in the US experience low back pain at some point.

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability of people under the age of forty-five.

For some, this pain takes the form of a dull, constant ache. For others, this condition causes sudden pain that can make it difficult to move.

Because low back pain is a daily challenge for so many people, there are all kinds of different treatments. Unfortunately, many forms of treatment are very invasive and may ultimately fail to provide any relief.

The need for better ways to treat back pain has inspired a lot of ongoing medical research. Stem cell for back pain is one of the most promising new treatments.

Before we look at how that treatment works and why it’s so promising, it’s helpful to understand exactly what’s at the root of most back pain.

What Causes Back Pain?

One of the reasons back pain is such a prevalent condition is there are many different causes. The first cause is intervertebral disc degeneration. This degeneration occurs as people get older.

Instead of discs remaining flexible, degeneration means they lose their ability to provide cushioning. Back pain can also stem from a ruptured or herniated disc. These conditions cause discs to compress and bulge.

Radiculopathy is another cause of back pain. This condition arises when the spinal nerve root gets inflamed or compressed. Sciatica is a similar cause and may also result in pain shooting down one leg.

Traumatic injuries, spinal stenosis, sprains, strains, and spondylosis are all other possible causes of back pain. With any of these causes, the resulting back pain can take a significant toll on your daily quality of life.

The Problem with Traditional Back Surgery

A common approach to back surgery is removing a degenerated disc and then fusing the spine. The fusing is done in an attempt to eliminate motion which can cause additional pain.

Although traditional back surgery works for some people, there are a number of problems and risks associated with this procedure. The first is that it’s very invasive.

The second issue is at least twenty percent of traditional back surgeries fail to provide any pain relief. Another potential complication is the need for a repeat surgery if a cage or graft subsides.

The invasive nature of this type of surgery can also cause nerve damage. That damage may create problems with leg strength or bowel control.

After learning about all of those risks, many individuals suffering from back pain pursue other forms of treatment. Those treatments can include massage therapy or chiropractic care.

While those treatments are less invasive, they often fail to provide any significant pain relief. Actually providing real relief in a minimally invasive way is what makes stem cell treatment so exciting for back pain sufferers.

Understanding How Stem Cell for Back Pain Works

The term stem cell refers to a cell that’s located within the body. What makes a stem cell different is it hasn’t yet transformed to perform a specific function.

When a stem cell is extracted from the body and then injected into a different area, it can transform based on the needs of that specific area.

In the case of stem cell for back pain, bone marrow is extracted from a patient’s hip bone. This marrow contains multiple stem cells. The cells are isolated by placing the marrow in a centrifuge.

Once the stem cells are isolated, a board-certified surgeon can use an x-ray to guide the cells’ injection back into the body. The x-ray provides the precision needed to target a specific disc in the spine.

After an injection is complete, the stem cell will start to promote healing of the degenerated disc. As injured disc tissue begins getting repaired through growth, the back pain a patient feels will start going away.

Although everyone heals differently, many patients who get this type of treatment experience major pain reductions in just a matter of months. The ongoing effects of stem cell for back pain can provide complete relief over the course of a year.

In some cases, the most effective approach to stem cell treatment may involve two or three injections. This is especially true for patients who are dealing with multiple disc problems along their spine.

A patient who has stem cell treatment in their back can support their recovery by doing therapy exercises. Simple exercises focused on posture and core-strengthening will work in conjunction with the stem cell towards a healthy spine.

The Benefits of Choosing Stem Cell for Back Pain

The first benefit of stem cell treatment is studies have confirmed its effectiveness. Out of one hundred back pain patients in a North Carolina study, sixty-nine of the patients experienced pain reduction.

Not only did the study note that the pain reduction was at least a fifty percent improvement for every patient, but it came after just one treatment session.

A shorter recovery time is the next benefit of stem cell for back pain. Traditional back surgery requires six to eight weeks to recover. It’s generally possible to resume light activity after a stem cell treatment within just a few days.

Using stem cell to address back pain is also far less invasive than traditional surgery. This procedure doesn’t involve any tissue removal, cutting or scars.

Instead, you’ll only experience temporary discomfort as bone marrow is extracted from your hip bone. The same is true when the stem cells are injected into one of your discs.

Is Stem Cell Treatment Right for You?

Stem cell for back pain can provide real relief from this challenging condition. It can also help a degenerated disc heal itself over the course of three to twelve months.

If you’re currently struggling with back pain, Executive Spine Surgery makes it easy to find out if you’re a candidate for stem cell treatment.

All you need to do is fill out our online consultation form and we’ll be in touch with soon about the next step towards stem cell for back pain.