Endoscopic Spine Surgery

Endoscopic Spine Surgery: Everything You Need to Know

Do you have back pain that is hindering your life and preventing you from doing everyday activities?

Instead of ignoring the pain you’re enduring, it’s essential that you tackle it head-on. Have you already done so and are about to undergo endoscopic spine surgery?

You’ve made the right choice in deciding to take charge of your body and your health.

What is this spine surgery you’re about to undergo and why is it being done? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about endoscopic spine surgery.

Why Would You Need It?

Before we go over the surgery itself, let’s cover why you may need it.

Sometimes pressure is being put on your spinal nerves due to scoliosis, bone spurs, spinal instability, spinal tumors, or herniated discs.

Before even having a discussion about surgery, your doctor will want to exhaust every non-surgical option there is. And there are things you can do on your own before you get to that point.

In fact, if you’ve been suffering from back pain that is only getting worse, there are ways to tell on your own if you have scoliosis.

That being said, if you are in pain or have any of the conditions we mentioned above, back surgery might be in your future. But the more non-invasive, the better. That’s why our spinal surgery is safer and more effective.

What is Endoscopic Spine Surgery?

Endoscopic spine surgery is minimally invasive. It requires an incision of less than an inch. Furthermore, it uses a tiny tube to navigate in between back muscles.

The surgery is done through the tube in order to decrease muscle damage and weakness that may be caused by muscle retraction.

A very tiny high-definition camera is used as a guide. From there, the surgeon can remove bone spurs, disc herniation, or whatever is needed to repair the spine.

Patients often feel immediate relief and have a greater chance of feeling that relief by using this minimally invasive surgery.

Why Is It Better Than Traditional Surgery?

The thing about traditional surgery is that it’s much more invasive. The larger an incision, the more possibility there is for damage to muscles, ligaments, and bones.

Scar tissue that develops from traditional surgery could create even more damage in the long run.

After traditional surgery, a patient might notice a decrease in pain. However, the potential collateral damage incurred by traditional surgery could cause the patient to have even more pain, long-term.

Some of the potential benefits of choosing a minimally invasive surgery such as endoscopic spine surgery are:

  • Less blood loss from surgery
  • Reduced chance of muscle damage
  • Reduced risk of infection and post-op pain
  • Faster recovery time
  • Less rehabilitation required
  • Better cosmetic results from a small incision
  • Less reliance on pain medications after surgery

Hardware Can Also Be Minimally Invasive

Depending on your condition, your surgery may include the placement of screws or rods on your spine. This can still be done using non-invasive spine surgery.

Traditionally, surgery required extensive removal of muscle and other tissues from the surface of the spine. But without cutting away or dissecting underlying muscle, minimally invasive surgery also allows for implanting hardware. 

Through additional small skin incisions, rods and screws can be inserted through the skin.

Why Is It so Important?

Your spinal cord is part of your central nervous system and is the main source of communication between your body and brain. That’s why damage or any issues with the spinal cord can have such an impact on everyday life.

It’s also why the greatest care should be taken in any attempts to remove or remedy the spine. Any damage done to the spine during surgery could have an even greater impact on everyday life.

The spinal cord controls both voluntary and involuntary movements of the muscles. That means it’s responsible for passing along nerve signals that help you do everything from taking a bite of your cereal to using the bathroom.

Did you know that you also need your spinal cord to sweat? It sends signals from your brain to your sweat glands so that your body can cool down naturally.

What Should You Expect?

If you want to know what will happen in your surgery from beginning to end, check out our breakdowns of the minimally invasive treatments that we offer.

As far as your recovery goes, that depends on what type of back surgery you need.

For a lumbar disc herniation, your recovery time could be as little as a few days. For patients with extensive bone spurs, recovery time could be a few weeks.

Either way, any endoscopic spine surgery should warrant a much faster and less painful recovery period than traditional spine surgery. In fact, non-invasive surgery should have you up and running to your fullest potential by 6 weeks.

Don’t Worry About It

We don’t want you to do anything you don’t have to do. Our goal is to offer patients every single treatment option, starting with the least invasive first. Depending on your condition, this could mean starting with simple things like diet and exercise. 

If you do require endoscopic spine surgery, however, know that many of our surgeries are performed in an out-patient setting. Our goal is to eliminate and at the very least, minimize your pain.

Feel free to ask us a question about any concerns you might have. And if you’re ready for the next step, find out how you can get a no-cost MRI review today.

Kyphoplasty 101: What You Need to Know

You’ve been dealing with back pain for a while. Maybe it started after an injury or incident, or maybe you woke up with it. You finally go see a doctor. They tell you you’ve been walking around with a broken bone in your spine for all this time.

That scenario isn’t as rare as you might think. In fact, around 750,000 people every year get these types of fractures, called vertebral compression fractures.

If you’re one of them, you might find that kyphoplasty is a treatment option. What does that mean? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure. Its purpose is to stabilize vertebrae, or bones in your spine, that have compression fractures. Stabilizing the vertebrae ends or reduces the pain you’re feeling from the fractured bone moving around.

On top of stabilizing the fracture, kyphoplasty also restores the height of the collapsed vertebra. A compression fracture causes a vertebra to collapse in on itself. This is often the reason an older person develops a rounded back.

How Does Kyphoplasty Work?

Kyphoplasty is a unique and advanced surgery. While you’re under anesthesia, your surgeon makes a tiny incision and places a hollow needle into the center of your broken vertebra.

First, the surgeon uses the hollow needle to insert a medical balloon into the broken vertebra. They’ll inflate the balloon, which creates a gap in the middle of the bone and restores the vertebra to its original height or near the original height.

Next, the surgeon removes the balloon and fills in the gap with a type of bone cement. The bone cement hardens and stabilizes the bone in place at its restored height.

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgery that uses such a small incision that you can expect little scarring. It’s often performed as an outpatient procedure. In other words, you’re likely to be able to go home the day of the surgery instead of staying in the hospital.

How is Kyphoplasty Different from Vertebroplasty?

As your doctor discusses the options to treat your compression fracture, you may also hear the term “vertebroplasty.” What’s the difference between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

These surgeries are similar because they both aim to stabilize a compression fracture. The difference lies in that height restoration kyphoplasty offers.

During vertebroplasty, the surgeon skips the step of using a balloon to heighten the vertebra. Instead, they inject the bone cement into the vertebra as it is. You get the stabilizing effect but not the restored height.

As an added bonus, kyphoplasty has a lower risk. A rare but possible complication in vertebroplasty is the bone cement leaking into the space around your spinal cord or elsewhere.

With kyphoplasty, your surgeon uses a thicker, less runny form of the bone cement. This lowers the risk of leakage.

While kyphoplasty has its benefits, vertebroplasty is best under certain circumstances. It’s all a matter of your unique condition and which option will give you the best results with the lowest risk.

When Will I See the Results of My Kyphoplasty?

One of the best benefits of kyphoplasty is that the stabilization takes away most or all of the fracture pain. Many people feel the relief right away, while it takes a day or two for others.

It’s important to recognize that while you can expect less fracture pain, you will have some post-surgical pain as you heal. Still, the recovery time for kyphoplasty tends to be minimal.

Most people are back to work and their other daily activities a few days after kyphoplasty. You will, however, need to avoid heavy lifting for a few weeks.

Each case is unique depending on your healing rate, the number of vertebrae your surgeon treated, and other factors. Your surgeon will give you more specific details about the recovery you can expect.

Is There a Way to Prevent Future Compression Fractures?

As much of a relief as it can be to get pain relief from kyphoplasty, it isn’t the end of the journey. It’s important to find out why your compression fracture happened in the first place.

Sometimes a fall or injury will cause a compression fracture. In many cases, though, it isn’t the only factor. Compression fractures may be a sign of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a chronic condition that weakens your bones. It’s more common in women but it happens to men as well. While it often happens as people get older, it can begin at any age.

In addition to your kyphoplasty, you may need to work with a doctor who specializes in osteoporosis. They can evaluate your condition and develop a treatment plan to strengthen your bones. If you follow their instructions, you’ll lower your risk of future fractures.

Am I a Candidate for Kyphoplasty?

As with any medical procedure, kyphoplasty is designed to treat a specific condition. It’s only an option for people whose back pain is caused by one or more vertebral compression fractures.

Not all compression fractures are compatible with kyphoplasty. The surgery is most common for fractures that change the shape of your back.

Kyphoplasty is also most successful for new compression fractures. Your surgeon will be able to take images of your spine to find out it kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, or other options are best suited to your condition.

Your Next Steps for Kyphoplasty

The idea of surgery can be intimidating, even when the surgery is outpatient and minimally invasive. Still, kyphoplasty has brought relief to patients who thought they’d spend the rest of their lives in pain.

If you’re dealing with a compression fracture and you’ve been told it was untreatable, or if you have undiagnosed back pain, we may be able to help. Schedule your appointment to get answers about your pain and find out your treatment options.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Pain

Say Goodbye to Pain: How to Relieve Pain from Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis currently affects approximately one percent of the U.S. population. That might not seem like a lot, but it actually works out to about 2.7 million people.

Do you think you might be suffering from ankylosing spondylitis? Does it affect someone you love?

Either way, you’re likely interested in learning about different ankylosing spondylitis pain management techniques.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about relieving ankylosing spondylitis pain.

What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that affects the spine and the SI or sacroiliac joints (the joints between the bones of the pelvis).

This condition occurs when the immune system mistakes the tissues of the spine and sacroiliac joints for foreign invaders and attacks them.

It’s an autoimmune disease and resembles other diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, in which the body mistakenly attacks its own organs.

When the immune system attacks the spine and SI joints, it causes damage. In an effort to repair this damage, the body forms new bone across the discs and joints of the spine.

This bone formation fuses the vertebrae of the spine together. When the spine becomes fused, movement becomes hindered and it becomes difficult to straighten the spine. The spine can’t absorb impact when it’s fused like this and it more prone to fractures.

When the spine becomes fused, it can actually snap like a twig or branch if it gets injured. This is why ankylosing spondylitis is sometimes referred to as “Bamboo Spine.”

Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis come on gradually. One doesn’t just wake up one morning with a totally fused spine.

The following are some of the most common symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis:

  • Pain and/or stiffness in the lower back, buttocks, and/or hips
  • Pain and/or stiffness in the neck
  • Pain in the ligaments and joints
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • General feelings of discomfort
  • Mild fever

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis tend to develop gradually over a period of several weeks or months.

For most people, the pain is more noticeable in the mornings or at night. It may also be worse after prolonged periods of inactivity and may get worse with light exercise or warm baths or showers.

Some people only experience pain on one side of their body.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to reach out to a physician to get a formal diagnosis.

Long-Term Risks of Ankylosing Spondylitis

When you first begin experiencing symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, you will likely be able to continue engaging in activities of daily living without too many problems. You may be a bit more tired than usual or deal with some aches and pains, but they won’t impact your daily life.

Over time, though, symptoms can become more severe and be much more of a hindrance. This is especially true for those who do not seek treatment early on.

Individuals with advanced ankylosing spondylitis are more likely than others to need disability accommodations or leaves of absence from work.

In fact, within 10 years of the time when symptoms arise, up to 70 percent of individuals with ankylosing spondylitis will become disabled. Past the ten-year mark, that number increases to 90 percent.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Causes

Researchers do not know exactly what causes ankylosing spondylitis.

They have found, though, that genetic factors play a role in the development of this disease. Individuals who have the HLA-B27 gene are more likely than others to develop ankylosing spondylitis.

It’s important to note that having the gene is not a guarantee that you’ll suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, but it does increase your chances.

Other factors that play a role in the development of ankylosing spondylitis are gender and age. Men are more likely than women to develop this condition. You’re also more likely to develop it in late adolescence or early adulthood.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Pain Management Solutions

There is no cure for ankylosing spondylitis. There are many different treatments that can help those who have it to manage their symptoms effectively and slow the disease’s progression, though.

The following are some of the most well-known pain management solutions for those with ankylosing spondylitis:

Medications

Many physicians start to treat ankylosing spondylitis by prescribing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs).

Common NSAIDs include naproxen and indomethacin. These medications help to treat inflammation, stiffness, and pain.

If NSAIDs are not effective, a physician might prescribe a biologic medication. Popular biologic medications include TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blockers and interleukin 17 inhibitors.

TNF blockers target a protein in the body that causes inflammation. Interleukin 17 inhibitors also help to reduce inflammation.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often part of the treatment plan for someone with ankylosing spondylitis.

A physical therapist can teach you exercises and stretches that will increase strength and flexibility. These exercises can also help you to maintain good posture, sleeping positions, and walking positions.

Lifestyle Modifications

Along with medication and physical therapy, lifestyle modifications are also very helpful to those with ankylosing spondylitis.

Regular exercise is a common lifestyle modification that physicians recommend. They may also recommend alternating hot and cold therapy and the cessation of smoking.

Surgery

In some cases, surgery is necessary to treat ankylosing spondylitis.

Surgery is an extreme option and is rarely a physician’s first recommendation. It may be necessary, though, if other, more conservative therapies aren’t helpful in managing an individual’s pain.

Physicians might also recommend surgery is someone is suffering from severe joint damage or needs a replacement of the hip joint.

Get Help with Your Ankylosing Spondylitis Pain Today

Ankylosing spondylitis can be a frustrating and debilitating condition. The good news, though, is that ankylosing spondylitis pain management solutions do exist.

If you’re fed up with your pain and want to get to the root of the issue, we can help at Executive Spine Surgery.

Contact us today to learn more about our pain management services or to schedule an appointment online.

We have offices conveniently located in both Hackettstown and Newton, New Jersey. We make it easy for you to get an appointment at the office that best suits your needs!

what is facet arthritis

What is Facet Arthritis?: Everything You Need to Know

What is facet arthritis? It is a disabling disease affecting the quality of people lives, yet it is relatively unknown.

Its symptoms include sporadic, sometimes severe and unpredictable pain in the neck or back.

It also causes a decrease in your mobility due to traveling pain anywhere from the neck to the upper leg.

Unique Facet Arthritis Indicators

It is easy to think arthritis will never affect your life, much less a type of arthritis which is so unique most people have never heard of it.

What is facet arthritis and the statistical impact on the population?

Facet arthritis afflicts the geriatric populations more than any other age group. Women are twice as likely to get it than men.

Many people will begin to suffer from sporadic and unpredictable pain. This pain can radiate from the neck down to the upper legs.

A facet arthritis diagnosis is prevalent in obese people and the condition plays a large factor in the people who have the disease.

Any accident, physical trauma or injury can trigger this type of arthritis or cause it to re-occur with more pain intensity.

A couple of other factors that can be indicators include malnutrition and a lack of physical exercise and activities.

Any joint can develop arthritis. However, when arthritis develops in the facet joint, this is facet arthropathy also known as facet arthritis.

There is not one symptom of facet arthropathy which would immediately make you run to your doctor. At least not in the beginning.

The progressive symptoms of facet arthritis are something else entirely. Unfortunately, there is no cure for facet arthritis cannot because once the facet joints are damaged they cannot heal.

Facet Arthritis To-Do List

The first thing one must do is get testing done to diagnose facet joint arthritis. A medical imaging test to locate where the disease is within the body is very helpful in diagnosing the condition.

Some of the imaging tests which are helpful to determine if you suffer from arthropathy include, but are not limited to:

  • MRI
  • X-Ray
  • CT Scan

The facet injection is also something which helps diagnose this condition. This test is sometimes called a medial branch block.

The medial branch block provides anesthetic which blocks the nerves when it senses facet joint pain. It is when you tell your doctor you have begun to feel better and are not having the same symptoms, the physician makes the official diagnosis of facet arthritis.

The Treatments for Facet Arthritis

There is no cure for facet arthritis, but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer or not seek treatment. There are many treatment options that will help manage and reduce your pain.

The treatments options range from prescription medication to physical therapy. But we have listed some specific treatment options below:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication helps the pain because it reduces inflammation at the affected joint.
  • Apply a heating pad or cooling pad on the inflamed area can help manage the pain.
  • Physical therapy is a great option to help you keep moving the inflamed facet arthritic area.
  • Radiofrequency ablation is also known as facet thermal ablation helps nerve blocking in the affected area.
  • Acupuncture has some success offering pain relief associated with facet joint arthritis.

Find the treatment option which works best for you. Don’t quit if the first one doesn’t work right away. It takes persistence with the end result being reducing the pain.

Surgery and Other Treatment Options

Surgery is a last resort for facet arthropathy, because of the risk to the spine. Lumbar fusion surgery is performed only if the pain is intolerable.

It is best if you try every medical and non-medical treatment before going down the surgical path of treatment.

But is a logical choice if the quality of your life diminishes due to constant and severe arthritic pain. We understand this type of decision is not made lightly.

It takes family and physician consensus, consultations, and agreement for this final resort to be an option.

There are other treatment options and some of them are unique. An important thing to remember is within the medical field treatment options grow every day.

A couple of unique treatment options have great success in reducing facet arthritis inflammation and pain. They are in the list below:

  • Joint corticosteroid injections shot into the affected joint reduces arthritic inflammation.
  • Minimally invasive lumbar fusion – a surgery which fuses bones of the spine together so there is no motion between them.

If the recommendation is surgery, minimally invasive surgeries are the best. This means the use of percutaneous techniques in surgeries because they have minimal impact.

They are performed with small incisions so the removal of bone is less. There is also less blood loss and less recovery time need after surgery.

What’s more, there are usually excellent surgical results due to the use of specialized spinal tools and instrumentation.

You Do Not Walk This Road Alone

Many people suffer from facet arthritis. 1 in 5 people suffers from various forms of arthritis.

Due to the high number of arthritis sufferers, there are peer-to-peer support groups available. There are also support groups run by the Arthritis Foundation and other non-profit agencies.

The support groups offer emotional support, activities aimed at helping those with any form of arthritis, and some offer financial assistance.

They are there for you so please reach out when you need those who understand the disease best.

What is Your Next Best Step?

We offer some of the most advanced medical and non-medical treatment options in facet arthritis.

Our commitment is to easing your pain and giving you back the quality of life you deserve. So what is facet arthritis? It is a condition our practice can help you with today.

We have the surgeons, the experience, and the best medical and non-medical treatment options to help you today.

Don’t wait to contact us until the pain has taken joy and life from your day-to-day existence. We want to help give you a future which is carefree and open so you can experience life once again.

best low-impact cardio

9 of the Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts to Relieve Back Pain

Does your back pain have you feeling down or making it hard for you to live out your life normally? While you may need professional help get you completely back on your feet, there are a few things that you can do to relieve some symptoms of pain right from home.

You just need to find the best low-impact cardio exercise for your spine. You have many options available to you, and all of them are good and simple to do. So, grab a mat, head to a pool, or hop on a bike, here are some of the best cardio workouts for your pain.  

1. Swimming

As you most likely know, you’re a lot lighter when you’re in a body of water. This is because of the water’s buoyancy. This buoyancy also does wonders for your back because it relieves the earth’s pull on your spine. 

This makes swimming the best low-impact cardio exercise around. The best strokes to do are the back and side ones. Stay away from the breaststroke because that will just make things worse. 

You can also try running along the bottom of the pool. While the effects of swimming are most effective when you are more than waist deep in the water, running helps too. 

2. Elliptical Training 

Using an elliptical can be an intense workout but it’s still a pretty low-impact one in terms of back pain. This is because it’s not very jarring and it allows your legs to move in an oval motion rather than striking the same path every single time. 

You also get a little bit of customization depending on what you want to get out of the workout. For example, you can adjust how much peddle resistance you have or if your upper back is what’s ailing you then you can choose a machine with moving handlebars to give it more attention. 

You’ll be able to choose from a standing or seated elliptical machine. A standing one allows you to keep up a good posture while you workout, so it’s the best for straightening out back pain. At the same time, the seated one can give you a little lumbar support and take some pressure off your spine. 

3. Cycling 

Outdoor biking is a little rough on your back because the holes and loose rocks on your path make for sort of a bumpy ride. Cycling inside helps you get the benefits of riding a bike but without all of these obstacles.  

You can choose an upright stationary bike or one that leans back. The upright one helps you stay in good posture while the one that leans back can provide you with a little comfort. 

Stationary bikes also break smoother than any outdoor bike that you could ride. If you’re looking for this smooth sort of ride, then you should look into a bike with magnetic resistance. 

4. Walking 

Walking isn’t the most low-impact thing that you could do but it can help if you have chronic back pain because it’s still rather gentle. To get the full impact of the exercise, make sure to walk at least three miles a few times a week. 

The other good thing about walking is that you don’t need equipment or even a gym membership. Just a pair of high-quality shoes and a path. 

5. Spine Stretch 

For these last few exercises, you’re going to need to pull out the yoga mat. To do the spine stretch you’ll need to grab a pillow and put it behind your head as you lay down on the floor on your back. Bend your knees together and move them to the side.

Move your pelvis soon after your knees while being sure to keep your shoulders on the ground. Do this about eight times while alternating sides. Do not do this exercise if you have a herniated disk

6. Bird Dog 

While your back is recovering it’s important that you mobilize it often. Doing the bird dog exercise will do just that. Get down on all fours, being sure to keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. 

Keep your spine in a neutral position with your head in line with it.  Slowly extend one of your legs and the arm opposite of it. You’re going to hold this position for 15 seconds or so and then switch. 

7. Bridge 

If the above exercise isn’t for you, another one that can sort of provide the same effects is the bridge. Lay down on your back while keeping your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart. Lift your hips off the floor and keep lifting until your hips and knees are in a line. 

Keep doing this about 8 times. It’s a fairly simple exercise but you’ll find that it will help ease some of your back pain. 

8. Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic tilts are going to start about the same way that the spine stretch did. Lay on your back with a pillow under your head and bend your knees. Keep your feet apart, your body relaxed, and your chin tucked in.

Contract your stomach muscles and then move your pelvis toward your heels until you feel your back arch. Repeat this process about 8 times. 

9. Lower Back Stretch 

To do the lower back stretch, get on all fours again while making sure to not lock up your elbows. Your knees should be under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. 

You’re going to slowly move your lower half toward your heels and hold yourself there for about 20 seconds.  

Speed Up Your Recovery with These Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts

If you want to speed up your back recovery or even just relieve a little bit of pain then you’ll need to pick out a few low-impact cardio workouts. Use the ones listed above to take your life back and have fun while you do it. 

Does it turn out that you need back surgery? We can handle it. Book an appointment with us today. 

back pain at work

Beat the Hunch: How to Relieve Back Pain at Work

Given that 20% of Americans report having some kind of back problems, it’s important for everyone to pay attention to their back health during the day. One of the places you can hurt your back is while you’re at work, even if you don’t have a strenuous job. As more people sit down throughout the day at a desk, back pain at work has actually increased.

Here are five ways to beat back pain while you’re at your office.

1. Focus on Posture

Even while you’re sitting, you could be damaging your spine and back with bad posture. This positioning can lead you to suffer discomfort while walking or running, just because you sat the wrong way.

While you’re sitting, you need to keep your feet flat on the ground. If you’re sitting at a desk, you should keep your head in a neutral position with your ears over and directly above your shoulders. This ensures that your whole body, from top to bottom, is in a position that’s healthy for you.

You need your weight equally distributed throughout your body as you’re seated. Your bones put weight on your hips and you need the lower portions of hips to only take as much pressure as they need to.

When you round your lower back, your head and your shoulders are going to slump forward.

Make sure your chair’s height is at the right height. Your thighs should be angled down only slightly. This manages to keep your weight distributed throughout the bones you’re sitting on.

2. Adjust Your Monitor and Keyboard

Where your monitor and keyboard are located makes a big difference in how your back feels. You need to be looking in the right direction and have your tools in the right spot to work comfortably.

Your monitor should be level with your nose. With a monitor too low, you’re going to have your had angled down and put stress on your neck. Working with a laptop is a challenge, so use a second monitor if it’s possible.

Your keyboard needs to be close enough to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle. No matter how fast you type or how comfortable you might be in another position, your elbow must be at 90 degrees for good posture.

Notice if you start slumping down via your shoulders to touch the keys. If you notice you’re doing this, then you need to reposition things. Put your mouse at the same level as your keyboard, elevating it if necessary.

3. Take Time To Stand

While it might seem odd, having a standing desk setup or an adjustable desktop that allows you to stand could make a big difference in your health and comfort. Our bodies were designed to walk through most of the day, foraging, hunting, and running around. Sitting in a chair can be a relief after a long day but it’s not the ideal way to treat your body.

Consider other ways to move that do more for your posture. If you’re able to spend an hour or two standing during the day, try that for better back health.

More people are using standing desks to get more out of their workspace. However, that’s not an option of everyone. There are desktop converters to allow you to turn your desk into a standing set up and back easily.

If you have a conversion setup, you have flexibility and can go back and forth as you need to.

4. Stay off the Phone

If you’re using your phone for more than calls throughout the day, you’re going to suffer problems with your back. People have a natural tendency to bend their head down when they’re using a phone or a tablet. When using a touchscreen, notice how you hold your body in front of the screen.

When you hold your head forward, you’ll end up with painful muscle strains over a short term period. If you do so over a long term period, you’ll find that you could end up with a disc or join problem. The longer you hold that position, the more likely you are to suffer a permanent injury to your body.

If you’re responding to emails or doing a quick bit of research, switch over to a desktop computer whenever possible. You’ll save your spine and stay more comfortable throughout your workday.

5. Keep it Moving

If you’re sitting at a desk all day, you’re going to suffer from persistent muscle or back issues. instead of sitting around, get up and move your body ever half an hour or so. This has proven to reduce back and neck issues.

If you’re suffering from back problems or soreness, consider getting out of your chair.

If you have trouble remembering, set a silent alarm to remind yourself to get out of your chair. While it might not be possible to get up each time the alarm goes off, it’s helpful to set it in such a way where you can hit snooze. If you’re able to keep your schedule, you’ll be able to stretch and avoid pain.

If it’s too hard for you to walk, you might need to see a chiropractor. People won don’t seek help or put these changes into place soon enough are likely to deal with long term issues.

Back Pain At Work is a Serious Problem

If you’re suffering back pain at work, take it seriously even if you don’t work a stressful job. You could be suffering avoidable problems that you still have the chance to correct. If you take some action now, you’ll avoid expensive surgery later.

If you want to give back pain the one-two punch, check out this guide for foods that help fight back pain.

back pain causes

Finding the Source: 7 of the Most Common Causes of Back Pain

How long have you had your mattress? Be honest…

If you can’t remember the last time you got a new mattress, it’s time to hit the furniture store. 

Why? Because sleeping on an old mattress is killer on your back.

But a bad mattress isn’t the only thing that can put your back in a bad mood. Lots of other lifestyle factors and medical issues cause back pain. And it’s important to know those causes so you can do your best to prevent back injuries in the future.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 7 of the most common back pain causes and what you can do to prevent them.

Common Back Pain Causes

There are certain risk factors that make you more susceptible to back problems. People who are overweight are more at risk. And if you’re not moving around much, you’re more likely to injure your back. 

If you work in a job that requires heavy lifting or long periods of standing on your feet, you’re more likely to have spine pain. And as you age, you might develop back pain because of wear and tear on your muscles and spine.

Knowing your risk factors can help you prevent back injuries. But no matter how much you work to prevent them, there’s still a chance you’ll experience problems at some point during your life. Now let’s look at the 7 most common causes of back injuries. 

1. Slouching

The way you hold up your body affects back health. Working long hours at a desk without taking a break can cause you back pain. And if you do this over a lifetime, it can compound into more serious issues like herniated discs and arthritis.

Also, bending your neck forward too much can make your back to hurt. This is a problem called text neck. And it’s a serious issue affecting many smartphone users today. 

To prevent this, pay special attention to your posture. Take breaks from sitting and walk around. And put your smartphone away before your neck gets tired.

2. Overuse

Sometimes, your back hurts because of a good, old-fashioned muscle injury. Muscle pulls and strains come about most often because of overuse. 

It’s more likely to happen when you do exercises that you aren’t used to. Like when you haven’t played basketball in 10 years and you decide to join a game at the gym. The bending, reaching, and twisting can cause you to injure yourself. 

But even seasoned athletes can overdo it and strain the muscles in their backs. Be aware of how your back feels while you’re exercising. Stop at the first sign of back pain to prevent further injury.

3. A Bad Mattress

We already mentioned this briefly, but let’s dive into your bedroom routine. You should replace your mattress at least every 10 years. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

Every person sleeps differently on their mattress. And every mattress wears differently. If you’re already having back problems, consider getting a new mattress sooner rather than later.

And consider upgrading your pillows too. Pillows bear the responsibility of holding up your head and keeping your neck in alignment. Old, flat pillows are just as likely to cause back problems as your mattress.

4. Arthritis

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. And lumbar arthritis happens when you develop osteoarthritis in your back. Over time, the cartilage in the joints wears down.

Without that cartilage, you lose range of motion, making the movement more painful. And it puts more stress on your nerves.

Prevent arthritis by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. Also, eat a diet rich in foods that fight back pain.  

5. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis develops when our bones lose minerals and weaken over time. The pain isn’t caused by the disease itself. It’s caused by tiny fractures in the bones of the spine that happen because the bones are so weak.

These fractures occur suddenly. You’ll notice a new pain in your spine because of a certain movement, even from a cough or sneeze. 

Unfortunately, many people (women especially) are prone to developing osteoporosis. But preventative measures like eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D are helpful. And weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones and prevent or prolong osteoporosis development.

6. Disc Problems

Each vertebra is separated from its neighbors by spongy discs. These discs are little fluid-filled sacs that provide a cushion for the bones around them. As you age, or if you suffer a spinal injury, these discs can get injured too. 

A bulging disc happens when the disc slips out of place and sticks out further on one side of the spine. This puts pressure on the nerves around the disc. 

A ruptured disc occurs when aging or trauma causes the tear, releasing the fluid inside. This means the disc won’t provide as much cushion to the bones as it should. And that also means more pressure on the nerves in the area. 

Prevent disc problems by regularly stretching your back. Also, using proper lifting techniques helps. And, of course, regular exercise keeps the back strong enough to shield the discs from injury.

7. Sciatica 

Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from the lower back down through your hips and thighs, all the way to your feet. Sciatica is when that nerve becomes pinched or inflamed.

This is usually caused by a bulging disc as we mentioned before. But it can also come from bone spurs or hip and back injuries.

Sciatica pain starts in the lower back and can spread down into the legs and feet. It may be sharp or dull, depending on how much pressure is on the nerve. 

Prevent sciatica by doing the same things you’d do to prevent a bulging or ruptured disc, as these are the most common causes of sciatica. 

Treat Back Pain ASAP

Many people experience back pain at some point in their lives. These back pain causes are some of the most common. You can prevent these issues by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping good posture, and exercising.

But remember, it’s not normal to have back pain. If you do suffer from back problems, get it looked at asap. It might be a sign of something worse. 

At Executive Spine Surgery, we take a multidisciplinary approach to give you the best possible treatment for back pain. Visit our website to book your appointment online to see Dr. Spivak.

Don’t live with back pain anymore. Get it treated now!

how to tell if you have scoliosis

How to Tell If You Have Scoliosis on Your Own

Do you have lower back pain like there’s no tomorrow?

If the answer is yes, you might have scoliosis. That’s right – adults have scoliosis too.

And 80% of the time, doctors don’t actually know what causes scoliosis. 3 out of the 4 types usually make themselves known between infancy and young adult age.

Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by neuromuscular disorders. And Idiopathic scoliosis’ cause is unknown.

Congenital scoliosis develops inside the womb although often times it isn’t diagnosed until children are older. 

Their vertebrae become more and more curved over time due to tiny bones not developing properly to begin with.

But you’re a functioning adult! Could scoliosis have been hiding in your vertebrae all this time?

Yes. Or, you might have degenerative scoliosis, which, unfortunately, is a result of aging as your bones and your spine wear out over time.

Don’t fret – there are solutions and treatment that may be able to help. But first, find how to tell if you have scoliosis symptoms.

Here’s How to Tell If You Have Scoliosis

Do you recognize any of these signs? Pinpoint any symptoms you have and perform a couple of easy at-home tests to determine if you might have scoliosis pain.

1. You Have Back Pain 

Do you have worsening pain in your lower back that is beginning to interfere with your activities? Or is it chronic? Has it already taken over your life to the point of preventing you from performing simple tasks in your everyday life?

Do you experience numbness any numbness in your legs? Do you experience cramping or shooting pain in your legs or other parts if your body? Those muscles could be straining to overcompensate for the bones and muscles that are causing you pain in the first place.

Are you unusually tired or exhausted? Are you unable to perform physical activities that you could do before?

2. You Have Uneven Shoulders, Hips, or Legs

Do you see a difference when you look in the mirror? Are you clothes starting to hang onto one side or do your shirts tend to fall off one shoulder?

What about your pants? Does one leg have a shorter break in the material? Do you find yourself limping around, even slightly? 

Grab a friend and perform the “Adam’s Bend Test” in order to determine if your potential scoliosis is functional or structural. Ask your friend to also take a look at your shoulders, hips, and the way your clothes fall to determine if they notice any interruption in your body’s symmetry.

3. You’ve Been Experiencing Shortness of Breath

If your scoliosis has reached a certain curvature, it may be affecting your lung function, especially during increased physical activity.

This can also cause chest pain as your lungs are not able to perform at their fullest potential. Eventually, this could lead to serious breathing problems, and if not treated, even heart failure.

4. Your Eyes and Ears Are Different

Stand sideways in a mirror. Get someone to look and see if your ears seem to be ahead of your shoulders? If you’re alone at the moment, take a photo on a timer.

What about your eyes? If you stand in front of a mirror, are the center of your eyes in line with the center of your hips? If they’re tilted at all in any direction, this could be a sign of scoliosis.

Do You Have the Symptoms?

Maybe you do, but that doesn’t tell you everything.

Even if any of these scoliosis symptoms ring true for you, yours could still be minor scoliosis. The sooner you consult with a doctor, the better chance you have of treating your condition.

Most people have a natural slight curve in their spine. But side to side curves that twist the spine are what define scoliosis. 

It’s when those curves keep growing deeper that major issues arise.

Where Do You Go from Here?

Well, if you have any of these symptoms, talk to one of our doctors and find out if you’re a candidate for treatment. 

And take a breather. Often times, scoliosis can be easily treated with lifestyle changes. For example, exercise or a back brace can help the spine realign itself.

Some exercises that may help are: 

  • Bend and stretch in the same direction as your curve
  • Hang from any bar as for as long as you can, and do it again.
  • Crunches and reverse crunches
  • Squats
  • Lay with a rolled pillow behind your neck and one under your back

Exercise is not necessarily a cure on its own so make sure you check with your doctor first.

Act Before It Gets Worse

Many patients do need surgery to correct their spines. And that’s why minimally invasive surgery is both the safest and most effective option.

And you’ve got nothing to lose! Get a free MRI review to see if you are a candidate for treatment. You’ll be one step closer to getting rid of your scoliosis pain.

Diet and Exercise Play a Role in Everything

Even if you do need surgery, diet and exercise can help keep you on the right track towards bettering your health and mobility. To start, some foods that may help fight your back pain are:

  • Olive oil
  • Sweet potato
  • Caffeine
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Berries and nuts

They’ll help fight inflammation and help you on your journey to conquer your scoliosis.

Meeting with the Doc

When you meet with the doctor, he might begin with a test like the “Adam’s Bend Test” in order to asses your spine alignment and to determine if x-rays are necessary.

X-Rays can confirm scoliosis and also detect the gravity of the condition. MRI’s may also be requested for further information and confirmation.

A doctor will want to know medical history, any previous diagnoses, and any and all symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

Be prepared with all of your questions and answers.

Be Objective

In assessing your pain and symptoms, make sure you take your time and stay objective. And for tests you can’t perform yourself, ask a friend or a relative to help determine how to tell if you have scoliosis.

Start eating healthy and do exercises and stretches that will begin to reverse your scoliosis.

Find a doctor you can trust who is certified and uses minimally invasive procedures with operational methods as a last resort. 

fight back pain

9 Foods That Help Fight Back Pain

If you’re experiencing back pain, you’re not alone. Roughly 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Whether it is a pinched nerve or something more serious, it can be frustrating, interruptive, and very painful.

You may know that improving your posture, getting physical therapy, or back adjustments can help, but did you know that the foods you eat can help fight back pain? Scientists have discovered that certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties. You may have heard of popular diets like the low inflammation diet. 

The sooner we realize that food is medicine, the sooner we can use it to heal our ailments. In this article, we’re uncovering the best foods you can start incorporating into your meals to help reduce your back ache and get back to your life. 

Put down the pain pills and pick up the saute pan, we’re getting started.

Fight Back Pain with These Miracles Foods

Everyone has to eat, so incorporate these foods into your diet and watch your pain dissipate. Channel these vitamins and nutrients from your diet and heal your back. 

1. Olive Oil

People who eat a Mederterean diet tend to have a lower chance of developing inflammation-related diseases and symptoms such as joint pain, depression, and or diabetes. This diet is heavy in one thing: healthy fats like olive oil. 

Extra virgin olive oil has similar properties to ibuprofen so instead of reaching for a bottle of Advil, try reaching for your olive oil.

Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils you can cook with — hot or cold. It’s perfect on everything from salads, dressings for meats and fish, for frying an sauteeing, or even as a dip for crusty bread. 

2. Ginger

Ginger is possibly the most powerful superfood there is. You may have heard that it’s is good for settling stomachs or boosting your metabolism but did you know that it has powerful anti-inflammatories?

The gingerols in ginger drastically reduce pain found in arthritis sufferers. Try adding it to your smoothies, meat and fish sauces, or even as a supplement.

3. Tumeric

For centuries, cultures all of the world consume turmeric (also known as curcumin) in their foods. It’s what gives curry it’s yellow-orange tinge. It’s wildly popular as a spice but rising in popularity as a supplement since it’s proven to reduce chronic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain.

Start consuming foods like ginger and turmeric soup and delicious curries or pop a supplement and watch your body transform.

4. Salmon

One of the best nutrients you can consume to reduce inflammation are omega-3 fatty acids. These are the healthy fats that make up a well-rounded, healthy diet. 

Omega-3s are easily found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. Consuming these fats have tons of benefits, from boosting your mood to reducing inflammation. Salmon also provides calcitonin which slows down bone loss and prevents the pain of osteoporosis. 

Now that you know both ginger and fatty fish reduce inflammation, we think it’s the perfect excuse to make sushi dates a weekly thing. 

5. Sweet Potatoes

Another incredible superfood to add to your diet is the sweet potato. It’s packed with all kinds of minerals and vitamins like Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and antioxidants, which give it anti-cancer and antidiabetic properties.

This friendly starch not only tastes good but reduces inflammation that can lead to unfriendly back pain. Whether you eat it mashed, roasted, or baked, be sure to add this one to your dinner menu. 

6. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are another great two sources of omega-3s. Here are some of the best sources: 

  • Walnuts
  • Hemp Seed
  • Chia Seed
  • Flax Seed
  • Cashews

Consider whipping up a walnut pesto to top your pasta or adding a handful of seeds to your next smoothie. 

7. Caffeine

Most mornings have one thing in common: they’re fueled by caffeine.

Caffeine can actually aid in fighting your back pain. But too much can be detrimental. No matter what kind of caffeine you consume, be sure you talk with your doctor that its a safe level. 

Coffee and green tea contain polyphenols which not only reduce pain but increase your quality of life. We’re thankful there’s a Starbucks on every corner.

Not a coffee drinker? Grab a green tea. It’s perfect hot or iced. It’s known for its abundance of antioxidants and appetite-curbing abilities. Green tea will not only give you a burst of energy but will calm you, as well. 

8. Carrots

Carrots have two incredible things going for them: they’re high in beta-carotene and packed with vitamins. Both of these things fight inflammation and lower your risk of back aches. 

Pair this orange vegetable with grilled salmon and a turmeric soup and you’ve got yourself a perfect, inflammatory-fighting meal. 

9. Red Grapes

Red grapes contain a compound called resveratrol which has a multitude of incredible health benefits like the prevention of aging 

If you’re serious about fighting against back pain, consume your resveratrol with turmeric to enhance the anti-inflammatory benefits. Try eating a handful of grapes with your turmeric, kale smoothie and feel better fast. 

Experiencing Back Pain? Let Us Help.

Now that you know what foods help ease back pain, you can start cooking and get back to your regular life. Usually, back pain is a common symptom and can go away on it’s on, but sometimes we need more help than just adding anti-inflammatory foods to our diet. 

Back pain can often be an indication that there is a more serious, underlying problem at hand. At Executive Spine Surgery, we take a multidisciplinary approach to spinal disorders. 

Check out our website to learn more about possible conditions, treatments, and tips on how to fight back pain like these spine strengthing exercises you can do at home.

spinal surgeon

10 Crucial Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Spinal Surgeon

Every year, spinal surgeons perform over one million surgeries on individuals all across the nation. Have you been told that you need spinal surgery? Are you feeling a bit anxious about the procedure?

It’s normal to feel worried before undergoing any type of surgery, especially spinal surgery. One way to ameliorate this anxiety, though, is to make sure you’re working with the most qualified surgeon possible.

Not sure how to find such a surgeon? Start by conducting some interviews and asking the right questions.

If you’re currently trying to find the right spinal surgeon, be sure to ask each candidate these ten questions during the interview process.

1. What Certifications do You Have?

This is one of the first questions you ought to ask when interviewing a spinal surgeon.

Your surgeon should be certified through the American Board of Medical Specialties. They should also have completed between two and three years of specialty training.

These qualifications are not the only thing that matters, of course. They’re a great starting point, though.

2. How Much of Your Practice is Dedicated to Spinal Surgery?

You might assume that a spinal surgeon works almost exclusively on spines. That’s not always the case, though.

Ideally, your spinal surgeon should dedicate at least 50 percent of their practice to spinal surgery and procedures.

The more time they spend working on the spine, though, the better. They’ll most likely be familiar with the latest techniques and technology and will be better prepared to perform your surgery.

3. Can You Provide Me with Testimonials?

Any good spinal surgeon will be able to share lots of patient testimonials with you. Don’t stop with the testimonials available on their website, though.

Do some research on third-party sites to see what people are saying about this particular surgeon.

Have the majority of patients had good experiences? What did they like and dislike about working with this surgeon?

4. How Many Patients Like Me Have You Operated on Recently?

How familiar is your potential surgeon with your specific condition? How many other patients have they operated on who are of the same age and suffer from the same condition as you?

Remember, there are a lot of different spinal surgeries and procedures. Not all spinal surgeons will be equally experienced in the type of treatment you need.

5. What Type of Surgery do You Recommend?

When you share your specific medical information and diagnosis with the surgeon, what kind of surgery do they recommend?

Can they provide you with written information or other resources to teach you about the procedure? What kind of instrumentation (plates, screws, etc.) will they use? Is a bone graft necessary? 

Learn as much about this surgery as you can before you decide that it’s the right one for you.

6. What are the Benefits of This Surgery?

In addition to finding out what kind of surgery they want to perform, it’s also important to find out why they want to perform it.

What benefits will come from it? Will you experience significant improvements to your mobility and a dramatic reduction in your pain? What will your quality of life be like when the surgery is over?

7. Is Surgery My Only Option?

Some spinal surgeons recommend surgery to every single patient they see, even those who could benefit from other treatments.

There are many minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures that could be just as effective as actual surgery.

Ask your surgeon if they recommend alternative treatments first, such as pain mapping, spinal injections, or high-frequency stimulation.

8. What Risks are Associated with My Surgery?

No surgery is without risks. Your potential surgeon should be honest about the risks associated with your particular surgery. If they try to brush these off or say there are no risks involved, they’re probably not the right surgeon for you.

9. Where Will You Perform My Surgery?

Where will your surgery take place? In a hospital, or in an outpatient surgical center?

Most spinal surgeries are performed in outpatient centers. It’s still a good idea to find out the location of your surgery, though.

If your surgery takes place in an outpatient center, you won’t need to worry about making arrangements for an overnight hospital stay. 

10. What Should I Expect After the Surgery?

Finally, be sure to ask the surgeon what you should expect after the surgery is complete.

What will your pain level be? How long will you need to stay home from work? How much physical therapy will you need? 

Get as much information about the recovery process as you can. That way, you’ll be able to make arrangements and be prepared for when the surgery is finished.

Red Flags to Look Out for

During your interview with your potential spinal surgeon, it’s not enough just to get answers to these questions. It’s also important to be on the lookout for the following red flags:

  • Discouraging or not allowing for second opinions
  • Not taking the time to answer all of your questions
  • Making you feel bad for asking certain questions
  • Trying to pressure you or influence your decision about whether you want to have surgery—their job is to provide information, not to persuade you one way or the other
  • Bypassing more conservative treatment options
  • Not being forthcoming about the specific treatments, techniques, costs, and/or outcomes related to the surgery

Your spinal surgeon should be open-minded, empathetic, and willing to answer all of your questions. Don’t work with someone who rushes you, pressures you, or tries to discourage second opinions or taking time to do more research.

Find the Right Spinal Surgeon Today

As you can see, there are quite a few questions you need to ask when interviewing a spinal surgeon. It’s definitely worth it to be thorough during your search, though.

Are you looking for a spinal surgeon in the Hackettstown or Newton areas? Do you want to work with someone who meets all the criteria listed above?

If so, we can help at Executive Spine Surgery. We offer a variety of minimally invasive spinal procedures designed to treat a wide range of conditions, from ankylosing spondylitis to scoliosis.

Schedule an appointment with us today!