spine exercises

Spine Exercises You Can Do at Home to Strengthen Your Back

Do you have chronic back pain that’s causing you to miss work? Are you looking for spine exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home? 

If you have back pain that’s lasted for more than three months, you have a chronic condition. Surprisingly, more than 75% of all adults report that they’ve experienced pain in their back. 

Back pain is one of the primary reasons that people call off of work. Doing regular spine strengthening exercises, however, can help manage pain levels. 

If you deal with back pain every day, this article’s for you. We’ll describe some effective spine exercises and help you figure out if you’re a good candidate for spinal surgery. 

The Tree Position

One of the easiest spine alignment exercises to try is the tree position. Stand up and reach your hands as far as you can toward the ceiling. If you can’t move your arms very far, just stand as tall as you can with your hands by your sides.

If you can put your hands over your head, try to hold them there for a count of five. The next time you do the exercise, try for a count of six and increase from there. 

Just keep practicing the tree position every day, preferably in the morning before you go to work. You might be surprised to find that your back and neck pain levels are much lower. 

If you feel any pain during these exercises, it’s okay to stop. You can try to breathe through the pain, but pain is your body’s way of telling you it’s had enough.

The Rock Pose

The rock pose is one of the most simple spine alignment exercises out there. It’s actually an ancient yoga pose called Vajrasana, and it’s been done by people around the world for thousands of years. 

What you do is kneel on a soft surface and sit back onto your heels. Try to relax and breathe for about 30 seconds at a time. If your back is sore, you won’t want to do it for much longer. 

The great thing about these spine stretching exercises is that they’re effective in very small doses. If you can do them for longer than a minute, that’s great, but don’t push yourself at first. 

If you can, try to do the rock pose on a full stomach, before you go to bed. If you have a yoga mat, you can use it, but you can also do this exercise by kneeling on your mattress.

The Plank Stretch

People who hate working out are going to love this exercise. The plank stretch only requires that you lay face-down and try to support your weight on your arms. If you can’t support your weight, it’s okay to lay on your stomach for a few minutes. 

Plank stretches are great for improving your core strength, which in turn improves your spine strength. You’re not trying to do a push-up, but you’re putting your arm down from your elbow to your hand. 

Again, take your time and see how this exercise feels. You can do it standing up against a wall if that works better for you. Put your forearms against the wall and lean in just a little bit. 

Spinal alignment takes some time, and if your back has been “out of whack” for a while you’ll need to start slowly.

The Stand-and-Sit

Standing and sitting may seem like a really easy workout, but if you have back pain it could be a challenge. Take a minute or two each day to sit down and then stand up slowly. 

The reason that the stand-and-sit is one of the most difficult spine straightening exercises is that it forces you to focus on your alignment. If you need help standing up, you can use the wall or a cane. 

You don’t have to do the stand-and-sit every day, but try to do it at least once per week. If you spend a lot of time sitting at work, you might find that a standing desk is a big help for your back pain.

Keep an eye on your pain levels, though. If you have chronic lower back pain, you could have a problem with torn discs. Degenerative disc disease can come as a result of a car accident, or simply from growing older. 

Spine Exercises with Weights

If these exercises are making you feel better, try to extend your workout by a few minutes at a time. You can use light weights if you want to go for a deeper workout. 

If you don’t have weights, you can actually use something everyone has at home. Go to the pantry and take out two cans of vegetables or soup.

Hold them in your hands while you stretch, and they’ll give you the same benefit as regular weights. 

Another option for bumping up your home workouts is to get a resistance band. It’s a loop made out of rubber and it makes your muscles work a bit harder. Start with the lightest resistance band and work your way up from there. 

Is It Time for Spinal Surgery?

Unfortunately, your pain may not go away, even with regular exercise or physical therapy. You may have tried getting a massage, going to the chiropractor, and taking time off from work.

If you have problems sleeping and standing, you could be a good candidate for spinal surgery. There are options that aren’t invasive, and that are done on an outpatient basis.

You could be up and around within a few days instead of a few weeks. We offer a free assessment of your MRIs and can help you determine if spinal surgery is right for you. 

Spine exercises are a good place to start, but if your pain keeps getting worse, come in and see us. We’ll get your medical history and spinal images in order and see if you’re a good fit for decompression or stabilization surgery.

You can book your appointment online or give us a call. We’re looking forward to working with you! 

 

annular tear

How to Tell if Your Pain is Caused by an Annular Tear

Unfortunately for us, most people suffer from some type of back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, 80% of people will have back pain at some point, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.

But there’s a difference between a sore back after hunching over your computer all day and a serious back injury. An annular tear is one type of back injury that you shouldn’t ignore.

But how can you tell whether your back pain is the result of an annular tear or if it’s just sore because you slept funny on your mother-in-law’s guest bed?

We’re going to go over exactly what an annular tear is, how you can tell if that’s what you have, and what you can do to treat your symptoms.

What Is an Annular Tear?

Our spines are made up of bones called vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are discs that help to protect and cushion the bones. This cushioning helps them to absorb any large shocks or pressure applied to the spine as well as distribute the pressure/weight on our back evenly to avoid one part of the back taking too much weight.

These discs are made of two distinct materials. One part is a soft, gel-like fluid that serves as the cushion.

The other part of the disc is made of something called annulus fibrosus. These are strong fibers that hold the disc together and keep them in place.

An annular tear is when these fibers, well, tear. These tears can be minor and small at the beginning with little to no symptoms. However, they get progressively worse, which can lead to the inner “gel” of the disc to leak out.

When this happens, the nerves in the spine can be impacts, which leads to a great deal of pain.

What Causes Annular Tears?

Most annular tears occur in the lumbar spine, which is a fancy way of saying the lower back. While it’s not impossible for them to happen in other parts of the spine, they’re most common in the lower back.

But what causes this to happen? One of the main causes is something we can’t do much about aging.

As we get older, normal wear and tear lead to parts of our body to weaken. This includes the parts of our back like the vertebrae and the discs. When these parts get weaker, it’s easier for injuries like tears to occur.

There are other factors that can lead to annular tears. If you’re overweight or obese, you’re at a higher risk of an annular tear. The extra weight puts excess pressure and weight on the spine, which leads to tears.

Annular tears can also be the result of accidents, especially ones with sudden or jarring movement of your weight. This could be a car accident, a sports injury, or even just lifting a heavy box incorrectly. When you combine these physical activities with age or obesity, you’re at a much higher risk.

Symptoms of an Annular Tear

Minor or small annular tears usually have no symptoms. However, as the tear gets bigger, symptoms will begin to appear.

The main symptom of annular tears is pain. You’ll have pain in your back that could radiate from the point of the tear to other parts of your back. You may also experience pain in your legs as well.

Difficulty Sitting And/Or Standing

We use our back for almost every movement or activity, even if you don’t realize it. Because of this, you may have trouble getting any relief at all when you have an annular tear.

Even sitting or standing can be very painful.

Consistent Symptoms

As we said before, we use our back all the time. This means that pretty much no matter what you’re doing, you’re going to still have pain if you have an annular tear.

Doesn’t matter if you’re on a hike, sitting in your car, or laying down on a fluffy soft bed. You’ll still be feeling pain.

Worsening Symptoms

If your tear isn’t treated, the condition will get progressively worse. You’ll experience:

  • Worsening pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness in the limbs/affected area
  • General discomfort
  • Bulging Disc

If you notice symptoms worsening, you should definitely see a doctor that can diagnose an annular tear.

Diagnosis

On that topic, let’s look at how you can diagnose an annular tear. If you have any or all of the above symptoms, there’s a chance that it’s an annular tear. The likelihood that your pain is an annular tear increases if it’s lower back pain, if you’re older, if you’re overweight, and if you have all of the symptoms listed.

However, to get an official diagnosis you’ll need to see a doctor. They’ll do a full work-up and will probably order an MRI. An MRI will be able to definitively show an annular tear (if that’s what you have).

The doctor can also use a CT scan or a discogram to determine the exact location of the tear.

Treatment Options

If you do have an annular tear, there are several treatment methods. You’ll probably start conservatively in order to avoid surgery: pain medication, anti-inflammatories, weight loss regimens, physical therapy, etc. Annular tears can take up to 2 years to fully heal.

Only when these treatment methods fail, or if your condition is worsening, will a doctor recommend surgery. There are traditional surgery options, endoscopic surgical techniques, and even some experimental stem cell treatments you can try.

Contact Us for More Information

If you have an annular tear, it can progress into a serious and painful condition. Any sort of consistent or recurring back pain should be discussed with a doctor as soon as possible to rule out any serious condition and to get you started on a treatment plan as soon as possible.

Contact us to set up an appointment or to ask any other questions you have.

si joint pain symptoms

5 SI Joint Pain Symptoms and Potential Causes

Do you regularly experience pain in your hips and lower back?

If so, you could very well be suffering from sacroiliac joint pain. After all, such joint pain affects 15 to 20% of the world’s population.

The question is: how do you know if your SI joints are the cause of your pain? The answer is: by looking out for relevant symptoms. Here are 5 SI joint pain symptoms and some of their potential causes.

Understanding Sacroiliac Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joints are located at the bottom of the spine in close proximity to the hips, connecting the ilium and the sacrum bones. These joints are vitally important in regulating body weight throughout the pelvis, reducing the stress of this weight so that it doesn’t cause any undue pain.

The problems start when the sacrum and ilium bones lose alignment within the SI joints. As this happens, the weight of the body applies pressure to the nerve endings in the joints. This results in a shooting pain that is, at best, extremely uncomfortable, and, at worst, physically debilitating.

SI Joint Pain Symptoms

There are quite a few sacroiliac joint pain symptoms, some of which involve pain, some of which involve posture, and some of which involve coordination. While all of these symptoms alone can be indicative of other ailments, all of these symptoms together are typically indicative of sacroiliac joint issues.

They are as follows:

1. Pain in the Lower Back

One of the most obvious symptoms that your SI joints are impaired is if your lower back is in pain. Though lower back pain can be indicative of other physical ailments, it’s very often indicative of misaligned SI joints.

Typically, this pain will exist in one side of the lower back. However, if both SI joints have been impaired, you’ll be able to feel it on both sides of your body.

2. Rigidity

Another common sign of sacroiliac joint issues is rigidity. If you’re feeling stiffness in your pelvic area, your SI joints could very well be the cause.

Generally, this rigidity will prevent you from moving in the way that you would normally move. You might have to exert an unusual amount of energy in order to maneuver your body.

3. Lack of Balance

One of the fairly common sacroiliac joint pain symptoms is a lack of balance. If you have trouble walking in a straight line, your SI joints could be to blame.

This lack of balance typically occurs because the affected individual feels as if his or her lower back is going to give out. This can cause said individual to favor one side of the body over the other.

4. Weakness in the Legs

Do you feel as if your legs are going to give out every time you stand up? This is another common symptom of sacroiliac joint dysfunction.

5. Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain can come from a variety of different ailments. However, SI joint misalignment is one of the most common.

Impaired SI joints can cause a shooting and stinging pain to travel through your groin area. This is especially true when you stand up or walk.

SI Joint Pain Causes

There is no shortage of causes of SI joint pain. Everything from diseases to injuries and improper movement can cause severe SI joint pain. Some of the more common causes are listed below.

Abnormal Walking Style

Did you know that the way you walk can actually lead to pain and discomfort in your back? Often times, an abnormal walking style will lead to SI joint misalignment.

Abnormal walking styles come about for a number of different reasons. In some cases, they arise simply because one leg is longer than the other. In other cases, they arise due to bad habits.

Often times, due to the seismic changes in their bodies, pregnant women will develop abnormal walking styles. Fortunately, in most cases, after they have delivered their babies, their walking styles go back to normal.

Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis which arises when an excess of uric acid develops in the body. Unfortunately, this acid travels to the joints, where it solidifies and causes severe pain.

While the joints in the feet are the ones which are most commonly affected by gout, the SI joints can be affected by gout as well. Gout is not a condition which presents itself at all times. Typically, it presents itself in short bursts, attacking quickly, and then retreating.

Arthritis

Apart from gout, there are two types of arthritis which can cause SI joint pain. These are osteoarthritis and AS, or Ankylosing spondylitis.

Osteoarthritis worsens with age, and involves the slow deterioration of cartilage in the body. It’s often accompanied by back pain, affecting the vertebrae and SI joints, particularly.

AS is a form of inflammatory arthritis which causes rigidity in the spine. Those who suffer from this disease typically also suffer from SI joint pain.

Pregnancy

As was discussed above, pregnant women often encounter SI joint pain due to changes in their walking styles. However, a change in walking style isn’t the only way that SI joint pain can present itself in pregnant women.

As hormones are released in the pregnant body, the body’s joints become more “stretchy”. This is done to allow for a more seamless delivery of the baby.

Unfortunately, stretchy joints are also vulnerable joints. Therefore, pregnant women stand a good chance of experiencing pain in their sacroiliac joints.

Direct Injury

In some cases, SI joints will become impaired through simple injury. Losing your balance and falling, getting in an accident, or hurting yourself while playing basketball are all ways that your SI joints could become misaligned.

Experiencing Sacroiliac Joint Pain Symptoms?

Are you experiencing SI joint pain symptoms? Looking for treatment for these symptoms in the Hackettstown, New Jersey area? If so, the doctors at Executive Spine Surgery are the people to see.

Using minimally invasive procedures, we have relieved sacroiliac joint pain in a variety of different patients. We would love to do the same for you.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

endoscopic discectomy

Is Endoscopic Discectomy Right for You? 5 Things You Need to Know

Do you suffer from chronic back pain?

If so, you’re not alone. The American Chiropractic Association reveals that back pain plagues approximately 31 million Americans. Back pain ruins the quality of life, as many sufferers miss work, stop engaging in physical activities, and turn to pain medications that can make them sleepy.

Back pain can be caused by a number of ailments, which all require different routes of treatment. If you suffer from chronic back pain caused by a herniated disc, then you may want to consider undergoing an endoscopic discectomy.

What Is an Endoscopic Discectomy?

This procedure removes herniated disc material through a minimally invasive surgical procedure. The surgeon makes a small incision to insert a camera and microsurgical tools. This avoids the need to make large, damaging incisions.

Why Choose this Procedure?

Herniated discs cause extreme pain. When an injury ruptures them, a jelly-like inside spills out and press on nerves. This results in serious pain that this surgery eliminates. Also, this surgery offers a much quicker recovery time than the traditional herniated disc surgery. It does not damage the neck muscles as the alternative does.

5 Things You Should Know

Before choosing any treatments, you should know exactly what you are signing on for. Read on for 5 facts you should know about an endoscopic discectomy.

1. You Reap Recovery Perks

Typically, the surgery ends in about a half hour, as opposed to hours on the operating table. The patient can go recover at home after a couple of hours and expect to resume normal activities within a couple of weeks.

This sounds especially amazing when you compare it to traditional herniated disc surgery. In comparison with an artificial disk replacement or spinal fusion, patients face up to a three month recovery time.

Furthermore, you will not need the cervical immobilization collar, if your herniated disc is in the cervical region. Patients who receive the spinal fusion require this uncomfortable device for anywhere from 4-6 weeks, to support their neck and allow for proper healing.

2. You Can Stay Conscious

Some people simply do not like the thought of going under anesthesia and therefore avoid surgery. Other people simply cannot go under due to life-threatening allergies or underlying conditions. If you’re one of those people, then you may want to think about choosing this procedure.

Though some surgeons do use anesthesia for this surgery, they often give the option to perform it under a local anesthesia. This means that they blocking nerve signals from reaching the pain, so the patient does not feel anything in that area.

This eliminates the groggy feeling along with the risks involved with going under. Patients may find this a better option since the surgery only lasts about 30 minutes.

3. You Can Choose Alternatives to Pain Medicine for Recovery

Following herniated disc surgery, many people take opiate-based pain pills and strong noninflammatory medications. This can lead to a serious addiction. You should know that after your surgery, you can choose from other options.

Acupuncture

Nearly every culture has used acupuncture for medicinal purposes throughout history. The acupuncturist strategically places thin needles into the skin in order to stimulate natural healing properties and block pain signals.

Because of our learned dependency on pharmaceuticals, some people view this as a type of pseudoscience, however, research says otherwise. An extensive study reveals that acupuncture worked just as well as traditional pain medications for the first few weeks of treatment, but proved superior for pain management in the long term.

Like the minimally invasive microdiscectomy, acupuncture comes with far fewer risks than the traditional alternative. Moreover, the treatment often involves a whole body healing in addition to minimizing the pain.

Therapy

Though you will feel real pain following surgery, underlying stressors and/or mental conditions can exacerbate your perception of it. Even if you typically do not suffer from anxiety or depression, surgery can sometimes trigger these conditions in some people, especially if they enjoy being on the go.

Consider seeing a therapist before and following your arthroscopic back surgery to help you cope with your emotional pain. This will help keep your physical pain under control.

Celery Seed Extract

This natural supplement continues to gain popularity, as the Arthritis Foundation reveres celery seed extract for its ability to reduce pain and inflammation. Its volatile components contain a number of healing properties that can help you eliminate the need for pain medications and NSAID’s following your surgery.

Though anything medicinal comes with some side effects, the mild side effects of celery seed do not compare those of prescription medications. Ask your surgeon if taking this supplement after your procedure can replace the medications.

4. You Need Physical Therapy Afterwards

Unfortunately, this surgery is not magic. You do not undergo it and effortlessly feel healed.

Though this procedure minimizes your risks of muscle damage your muscles do atrophy as you rest them for recovery. Weakened neck and back muscles leave your spine unsupported and can lead to pain and risk of further injury.

Seeing a physical therapist decreases your time to complete recovery. Strategically and safely working your muscles in a controlled setting will improve your overall quality of life following surgery. Your efforts will optimize your strength, flexibility, and mobility for the long run.

5. This Surgery Fixes Other Back Problems Too

Though surgeons often use this procedure to repair herniated discs, cervical, mid, and/or lumbar discectomy may also be used to fix:

  • brachial neuritis
  • disc bulges
  • disc tears
  • radiculitis
  • radiculopathy

If you suffer from chronic pain, ask your doctor if this minimally invasive surgery can help you. Regardless of what you need repaired, this procedure offers similar benefits to the ones discussed above.

Talk To Your Doctor Today!

Pain reduces the quality of life. If you do not want to suffer from chronic neck or back pain any longer, and open spinal surgery always sounded too risky, talk with your doctor about undergoing an endoscopic discectomy.

This minimally invasive procedure offers a faster and more complete recovery and safer surgery. You deserve your life back! Visit our website to learn the advantages of choosing us for your spinal surgery.

symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis

3 Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis You Shouldn’t Ignore

You’ve experienced a normal amount of back pain and discomfort in the spine before.

But lately, you just feel like the pain has gotten out of control. What’s more, you also don’t feel as though it’s getting any better. In fact, it just seems to be getting worse, even spreading up the spine.

You’re starting to wonder if you’re displaying the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

But what exactly is AS, and what are the types of pain and additional symptoms you need to watch out for? Most of all, what are your treatment options?

Keep on reading this post to find out.

What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Before we get into the most prominent symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis, let’s make sure that you understand what it is.

In brief, Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic form of arthritis in the spine (in some cases, this arthritis can also impact other joints in your body.) It’s best defined as a continual inflammation within your vertebrae.

If left untreated — or if you simply have a more difficult case — this pain can develop into ankylosis. This means that new bone formations begin in your spine. Over time, affected portions of the spine could become immobile as a result.

In particular, the sacroiliac joints in the base of your spine, which connects it to the pelvis, are seriously affected by AS.

Unfortunately, the causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis aren’t fully known.

Many professionals believe that cases of AS are caused by genetics. If your body produces the protein HLA-B27, you’re more likely to get AS. However having this genetic marker is not a requirement, nor is it a guarantee that you’ll get AS.

There are also hypotheses that see a connection between prolonged bacterial infections and AS.

Finally, it’s important to note that AS happens more frequently — and begins earlier in life — to men.

Now, let’s take a look at the most common AS symptoms.

1. Intense Pain

First, it’s important to stress that Ankylosing Spondylitis pain is vastly different from your random, or even more frequent, back pain.

It’s not something that happens as a result of moving heavy boxes, straining yourself, or any other easily explainable activity. It’s also much more intense and disruptive than more common back pains.

The pain will often start in your lower back and even the buttocks. It may start off somewhat manageable — and many people assume it will go away on its own.

You may soon notice that the pain even seems to be alternating sides, when in the past you only felt discomfort on one side.

The pain eventually becomes chronic. It likely even begins to spread all the way up to your neck. In some cases, you even feel it in your heels.

Resting also won’t help the pain — in fact, it may even make it worse. However, you do notice that, when you move around, you get at least a temporary relief from this pain.

2. Poor Posture

Poor posture certainly isn’t uncommon in today’s world. After all, we spend much of our time hunched over smartphones or on the computer.

But continued poor posture — even after an attempt to make a correction — is one of the surprising symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis. You may notice that you just can’t seem to improve your bent-over, hunched posture.

In some cases, the opposite may even be true.

Have you noticed that your spine’s normal curvature seems to be disappearing? While at first, you might have thought your posture was improving, now, your spine feels almost too straight.

You often feel sensations of stiffness, and though you long to stretch and move your spine, it just feels impossible.

You’ve even noticed that your posture makes it hard for you to take deep, calming breaths. And when you can, it’s extremely painful.

Sudden changes in your posture are one of the most common early signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis. See a medical professional as soon as you can.

3. Eye Pain and Strain

You’ve always had excellent eyesight.

You’ve never had to strain to read signs or emails at your computer, and you’ve never worn glasses or contact lenses.

But lately, that’s all seemed to change. You notice that your eyes are much more sensitive to light than they’ve been in the past. In fact, if you enter into a room that’s too bright, you eventually start getting a headache.

Sometimes, those headaches can be quite severe.

Additionally, you’ve realized that your eyes have been much redder than normal in the past few months. You’ve noticed that, after reading or even going about your normal activities, you experience eye pain.

Your eyes even seem to be swelling up, and you’re dealing with watery eyes more frequently than ever before.

This is one of the symptoms of AS — not an issue with your eyesight as a whole.

Treating the Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis

We know that recognizing some of the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis in yourself can be quite intimidating.

If you suspect that you may have AS, then it’s important to meet with a medical professional as soon as you can. They’ll conduct imaging tests, like MRIs and x-rays, and they’ll even examine how well you’re able to move your spine.

In some cases, you may be prescribed NSAIDs for pain management. You may also be but on TNF blockers to reduce swelling in the joints.

You may also need physical therapy. In some cases, you might consider surgery.

No matter what your AS treatment options are, we want to help you get the best care available. Spend some time on our website to learn how we can help, and reach out to us to book your appointment.

degenerative disc disease treatment

What You Need to Know About Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Is your back pain making it hard to get out of bed in the morning? Are you losing time at work because you are in so much pain?

Studies show that about half of all American adults have experienced back pain at some point in their lives.

How do you know if your back pain is serious? You might be so used to your pain that you don’t realize you have degenerative disc disease.

We’ll discuss degenerative disc disease treatment and help you figure out if it’s time to go see your doctor. There are several methods of treatment available and it’s possible to minimize your pain and discomfort.

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

If you have chronic, low-grade pain, you could be looking at degenerative disc disease. It’s caused by long-term wear and tear on your back. There are cartilage discs between the bones in your back and eventually, they start to wear out.

You might be experiencing leg pain or ongoing lower back pain. You might also have weakness or numbness throughout your lower back. Some patients with degenerative disc disease don’t experience any pain, but if you notice that your back is getting worse then it’s time to see a doctor.

Keep a journal for your pain every day. Make a note of how severe your pain is and whether it’s getting worse or better. When you see your doctor, you’ll have a record of how your back is doing. It’ll make it easier for the doctor to start the diagnostic process.

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

Your back injury could have been caused by a traumatic event like a car accident, but more likely it’s the result of the normal aging process. Everyone’s vertebrae and discs will eventually wear down somewhat, but yours may have degenerated more than average.

What happens to your discs is that they can tear, exposing nerves in the spine. Your discs could touch those nerves, causing irritation and pain. If you’ve had a serious car accident, you might want to touch base with your doctor just to see what kind of injury has been done to your back.

Even if you have an office job, you’re still wearing down your back by sitting in the same position every day. If stretching isn’t helping your pain, try getting an ergonomic seat. It should distribute your weight more evenly and help cut back on your spinal irritation.

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

You might be wondering how to treat degenerative disc disease. There are several options: your doctor will help you determine which one is best for you.

The first step is to get diagnosed with an MRI. The imaging software will help your doctor see your back in detail. Any irregularities will be visible and they can start your treatment plan from there.

Another form of diagnosis is discography, where the doctor injects your discs with a solution that lets them see it clearly. They will be able to see if your discs have torn or degenerated without tearing.

Treatments for degenerative disc disease include physical therapy, injections of pain medication, and anti-inflammatory medication. There are also minimally-invasive surgical options available.

You might find that your pain decreases after you visit a chiropractor or physical therapist. If your pain continues, however, you may want to look into surgical remedies for your chronic lower back pain.

Should I Get Surgery?

The best thing about getting spinal surgery for your discs is that we can perform the procedure on an outpatient basis. Our surgery does not impact the muscles in the neck and avoids risky spinal fusion.

Before you get your surgery, you may be asked to change your diet or your smoking habits. The surgery is most effective if you have it within six months of the onset of symptoms, but we can work with patients who have long-term chronic pain as well.

We make a very small incision and work with tiny surgical instruments to remove parts of the impacted disc. We do not perform open spine surgery for patients with degenerative disc disease. A long hospital stay doesn’t suit our patients’ busy lifestyles and we work to perform effective, quick surgical procedures.

Recovery from Surgery

You should expect a fairly quick recovery from our spinal surgeries. You’ll be given antibiotics before and after your procedure, so make sure to take them exactly as prescribed.

There is the potential for blood clots or nerve damage, but these are extremely rare. You may feel a small amount of pain at the incision site, and your symptoms may flare up for a week or so after your surgery.

If you have any other symptoms after your surgery, make sure you communicate with your doctor. You may want to take a day or two off from work, but make sure you get up during the day and walk around. You should feel much better after your surgery is completed.

Your doctor might also recommend visiting a physical therapist after your surgery, just to get you back up and running. Once your pain diminishes, you should be much more comfortable performing daily life activities.

How Can I Get Started?

The first step is to find a doctor who is experienced in back surgery. Then you’ll need to get an MRI. Make sure you keep a record of your pain: how severe it is, where you feel it, and whether it’s getting better.

The doctor may have you try some non-surgical options first, like physical therapy and weight loss. You may also want to try pain medication as a form of relief. Some patients find that their condition improves when they work out at the gym, but that doesn’t help everyone.

If you’re worried about your recovery time, remember that the entire disc surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. You should be up and walking around in a very short time after your surgery.

Send us an email or book your appointment online. We’ll help you find the degenerative disc disease treatment that’s right for you.

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 and 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.