Thank you Dr. James Fedich for having me on your show. Check out the interview above where we discuss the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery and recent advances in technology.
If you’re considering cervical spine surgery, you know how debilitating it can be to be afflicted with a cervical spine disorder.
And the problem is truly widespread.
Degenerative cervical spine disorders will affect up to two-thirds of the population in their lifetime.
One of the most common back problems is lumbar spinal stenosis.
Stenosis of the spine surgery is often performed on individuals aged over 50 years.
The pain can often be debilitating and a patient may have to decide whether to embark with surgery or to manage the pain with non-surgical treatments.
Back pain sufferers know a unique agony.
The LA Times captures the frustration back pain brings to struggling patients:
“The pain can run the gamut from irritating to excruciating. It can include sharp twinges, dull aches and even gasp-inducing spasms that surge like gigantic electric shocks.”
Cervical kyphosis is a real pain in the neck. Literally.
And while the condition can cause pain in the neck, there can also be burning pain or tingling in the arms and hands.
On top of that, cervical kyphosis can also cause weakness in the arms and create difficulty with coordination, performing activities and holding in one position for too long.
But there is hope through cervical kyphosis treatment.
There are a variety of cervical kyphosis treatment options.
Treatment options fall into two categories – conservative or surgical – and the chosen treatment will depend on how severe the condition is and the conditions that caused it.
Surgery is not recommended if the curve in the neck is fixed, and there are no neurological problems due to pressure on the spinal cord. Since the curve is fixed – meaning that it’s not going to change – then that means it won’t get any worse.
In this case, conservative treatments are recommended. These include:
A Neck Collar or Brace
A doctor may advise using some sort of neck support as a part of a cervical kyphosis treatment. Neck braces, cervical neck supports, and soft neck collars help to relieve strain on the neck muscles.
Plus, these supports can be helpful in speeding up the recovery time after an injury.
Physical therapy helps with the correction of cervical posture through movement training and pacing of activities.
These exercises can also help to reduce pain, strengthen neck muscles and improve range of motion. Warm and cold compresses may be used to help manage pain.
Speaking of pain…
Medications for cervical kyphosis treatment are used to relieve pain, muscle spasms, and inflammation.
The two main over-the-counter medications are:
- Acetaminophen – better known as Tylenol. Acetaminophen is an analgesic, which reduces pain by blocking the brain’s perception of pain. It is ideal for pain flare-ups.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – better known as Advil or Aleve. Over-the-counter NSAIDs lessen pain by reducing inflammation.
If over-the-counter medications aren’t cutting it, the doctor may prescribe something stronger.
Whatever the case, medication serves only to mask pain. So, it is recommended that exercises for cervical kyphosis be done during those times when pain is absent or lessened by the medication.
That way, the neck muscles get strengthened.
Excessive cervical kyphosis can be treated with surgery.
In severe cases where there is chronic and persistent pain, compression of the spinal cord, progression of the curve and/or a worsening of neurological problems, surgery is up for consideration.
Today, most surgery used in cervical kyphosis treatment involves putting in some type of metal plate or rod to hold the spine in place and straighten it.
With surgery, there may be an operation from the front to relieve the pressure on the spine, and then another operation from the back to put the metal in and prevent the kyphosis from returning.
In only the most extreme cases, the surgery may include an osteotomy, which involves cutting the vertebrae to allow the surgeon to straighten the spine. The spinal cord itself is not cut.
Whatever the reason for your cervical kyphosis, you’re sure to find a treatment option that’s right for you. And, if you have any other questions that weren’t addressed here, let us know.
Knowledge is power, right? Well, having knowledge about what to expect after thoracic spine surgery is a powerful tool in recovery.
The decision to have thoracic spine surgery is not an easy one to make. It usually takes extensive consultation with your doctor, and often it’s after exhausting non-surgical treatment options.
Once you’ve made the decision to have thoracic spine surgery, here is a brief view of what to expect during the recovery process.
Hospital Stay After Thoracic Spine Surgery
Thoracic spine surgery patients usually remain in the hospital for 3 to 5 days. In order to be released from hospital care, patients need to:
- administer oral pain medications, as needed,
- get themselves up out of bed and walk around without assistance, and
- use bathroom facilities, regularly, without assistance.
Physical therapists are usually available to help you learn how to perform these tasks while protecting your recovering body.
Once home, thoracic spine surgery patients can expect a recovery time of 3 to 6 months.
After the rehabilitation period in the hospital, home care includes:
- wound care,
- starting to integrate basic movements into your day, and
- working with a physical therapist (usually after 4 weeks).
Physical therapy usually lasts for 3 months and is conducted along with regular visits to your doctor.
Once you regain your normal strength and range of movement, you should be able to participate in activities that you enjoyed before going under the knife.
Of course, heavy lifting is discouraged for several weeks after thoracic spine surgery. This should be no surprise.
Specifically, you should avoid:
- bending or twisting your back often,
- lifting anything similar to the weight of a gallon of milk (5 lbs),
- running, vacuuming, doing laundry, mowing the lawn, and
- activities that make you feel back strain.
This means that planning ahead for how chores will be done is essential for a smooth recovery.
You will also not be able to drive for a few weeks. And even when you will be ready to hit the road, you will still need a neck brace, which may limit your range of vision. (delete these repeated words: For at least 2 months.) For at least 2 months, you will rely on a friend or relative for your transportation needs.
How Can I Help Myself Recover Faster?
- Move regularly. Ideally, you should take a light walk around your home every 1.5 – 2 hours you’re awake. This helps build muscle and prevents a build up of blood clots in your legs.
- Change positions. If you’re on the couch in the morning, try sitting at the table for lunch, and then outside on a patio in the afternoon.
- If you feel any pain, or pain increases, stop doing whatever you are doing.
- Ice can help your back if you experience pain. But remember to separate your skin and the ice pack with a towel. Do this for 30 minutes, 4 times a day.
- Wash your thoracic spine surgery wounds with soap and water daily. Do this in the shower, not in a bath.
- Keep the wound uncovered unless there is drainage.
With a decrease in physical activity, you’re likely to constipate. Make sure that your post-thoracic spine surgery diet consists of:
- bran cereal,
- lots of fluids.
Don’t be afraid to invest in laxatives if the diet is not helping.
Also, keep educating yourself on thoracic spine surgeries. The more you learn how to care for yourself, the higher your chances of having a swift recovery.
Remember, recovery is a process. It can be shorter or longer, often depending on factors such as your age, health prior to surgery and, importantly, how well you can take care of yourself.
By knowing what to expect after a thoracic spine surgery, you will be in a better position to prepare yourself accordingly and handle post-surgery stress.
Are you struggling with upper back pain? Do you want to know if you need a surgery? Contact us today and talk to a certified neurosurgeon.
Spinal cord tumors can be a deadly diagnosis.
Along with brain tumors, they are the deadliest form of tumor. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 23,000 people will be diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor in the U.S. in 2017.
Not all of these tumors are cancerous,but getting them checked is essential.
As with any type of cancer, early detection is the key to treatment, and ultimately, to survival.
Regular medical examinations are important. Knowing the symptoms and signs of a spinal cord tumor can also help with early detection.
What are the symptoms of spinal cord tumors?
One of the hardest parts about detecting these tumors is how varied the symptoms can be.
The symptoms that a patient will experience largely depend on where the tumor is located on the spine. How close the tumor is located to blood vessels and nerves, the size of the tumor, and how long it has been developing can affect symptoms as well.
Some of the earliest symptoms of spinal cord tumors are back pain and pain in the arms, legs, hips, and feet.
If the tumor is located on nerves, the patient may experience loss of sensation and decreased sensitivity.
Muscle weakness is also a common symptom, especially as the tumor grows. This can cause instability and trouble walking over time.
Other symptoms include loss of bowel function, spinal deformities, and paralysis.
How do you know when you should see a doctor?
Back pain can be the result of many problems. This can make it tough to figure out whether your back pain may be the result of a spinal cord tumor.
But abnormal back pain is always a cause for concern. If you notice that your back pain continues even after you’ve laid down in bed for the night, it could be the result of a tumor. Or, if your back pain doesn’t appear to be related to your activity levels, you should see a doctor right away.
If you experience persistent back pain, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor who can try to determine a cause.
If you notice any muscle weakness or changes in your bowel function, you should see a doctor immediately.
Patients who have a history of cancer should be especially alert to any possible symptoms.
Who is at risk of spinal cord tumors?
These tumors have many causes. Some people are more at risk than others for developing tumors.
For instance, those with a history of cancer or other hereditary conditions like Von Hippel-Lindau disease or Neurofibromatosis are more likely to develop tumors.
Anyone with a compromised immune system is also at an increased risk.
Exposure to chemicals from certain industries or from radiation treatments can also cause tumors.
If you have exhibited any of the above symptoms of spinal cord tumors, it may be time to see your doctor. The experts at Executive Spine Surgery can help.
Tumors can be serious. But with early detection and treatment, removal and recovery is always a possibility.
It can affect your ability to walk, drive, work, play with your kids, or perform many other basic tasks.
For relief from their back pain, nearly half a million Americans undergo spinal surgery each year.
Unfortunately, however, many times the initial spinal surgery is unsuccessful. In these cases, patients may have to undergo revision spine surgery.
When surgeons perform revision spine surgery, they might simply repeat the original procedure because it failed to address the patient’s problem the first time around, or they may perform an entirely different procedure.
In the latter case, it could be that the wrong procedure was completed the first time, or it could be that a new condition has developed since the initial operation.
No matter the case, revision spine surgery comes with lots of questions.
Why do you need it?
What should you expect if you need it?
Are you going to be able to get back to all those activities you enjoy?
Keep reading for answers to your revision spine surgery questions.
Do You Need Revision Spine Surgery?
Your need for revision spine surgery will depend on your initial diagnosis and your symptoms following your initial surgery.
Here is a look at some of the most common conditions requiring surgery, and the symptoms that might signal you need revision spine surgery:
- Discectomy — This procedure involves removing pieces of disc material that have torn off or completely separated, from the main disc. As long as there is part of the original disc in place, it is possible to develop recurring disc herniations. You’ll know this may be happening to you if you have shooting pain down your arm.
- Pseudoarthrosis — If a year has passed since your initial surgery and your bones still haven’t fused, you may be experiencing pseudoarthrosis. This occurs in about 68 percent of lumbar fusions, and about 36 percent of those cases require spine revision surgery. Pseudoarthrosis is more likely to occur in those who had spinal fusions without hardware.
- Adjacent Segment Degeneration — Adjacent segment degeneration is a condition in which the joints right above or right below the site of the spinal surgery undergo anatomical changes. Usually, this takes about two years to develop. One of the most common symptoms associated with ASD is pain down the leg.
- Total Disc Replacement — This is a relatively new procedure in the United States and one that very few patients actually need. When another surgery is needed, it is usually because of hardware failure.
- Faulty Hardware — This one is straightforward enough. If you have had rods, screws or other equipment implanted during your initial surgery and that equipment fails, you will need to go back under the knife to fix the faulty parts.
Other factors that can contribute to failed procedures and the need for a second surgery include the development of scar tissue, surgical errors, and the patient’s overall health condition.
To determine whether you need another operation, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and order a variety of diagnostic scans, including CTs, MRIs, X-rays, EMGs and bone scans.
After carefully reviewing the results of these tests, your physician may conclude you do indeed need another procedure.
You won’t be alone, however.
For as much as 40 percent of back surgery patients, this is the case.
What to Expect
You’ve just had one spinal surgery when your doctor tells you that you need another. Such news can be devastating.
After all, you were envisioning yourself healed by this point, able to do all the things you enjoy in life without pain, or limited range of motion, or worry.
When your doctor tells you that you need a second surgery, a lot of thoughts may cross your mind:
Will I ever be free of my back pain?
What if this surgery goes wrong?
Will I be worse off than I was before?
These are all understandable worries, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.
Research conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine shows that patients who have revision spine surgery are just as likely to make a full recovery the second time around as those who have only had the initial surgery.
The key, researchers found, lies in making the correct diagnosis and performing the surgery correctly.
Complications can always arise, of course, but the takeaway is that revision spine surgery is no more likely to go wrong than initial spine surgeries.
That’s good news!
“In fact, the outcome for revision patients is a bit better in some of the study tools we use to assess their function. And the complication rate isn’t significantly higher,” researcher and orthopedic surgeon Khaled Kebaish told Johns Hopkins News in 2013.
If at first, your surgery wasn’t successful, try again — and in all likelihood, this time it will work, and you’ll be back to doing all the things you enjoy.
Also, you might take comfort in the fact that it may be possible to correct your spinal issue through a minimally invasive surgery.
In these cases, the incision is less than 1 inch in length, and the recovery time is much shorter than with traditional operations.
Your physician will have to determine the course of treatment your condition requires.
Whatever your condition and no matter if you are undergoing an initial spinal surgery or a revision spine surgery, your quickest path to recovery will be to strictly follow your physician’s post-op advice.
This will likely mean taking antibiotics, perhaps restricting your movements or completing a round of physical therapy.
Whatever he or she prescribes, it is in your best interest, and if you follow his or her directions closely, you will be much more likely to have a positive outcome.
Executive Spine Surgery offers a wide range of treatment options for back pain, including spinal injections, pain mapping, endoscopic, minimally invasive and complex spinal surgery, joint and lumbar fusion, and much more.
For an appointment or additional information, contact us today.
Construction workers, accountants, and teachers are all victims of chronic suffering and torment. The leading cause of disability and missing work is back pain.
Avoid asking for painkiller medications by performing stretches and exercises that can strengthen your back and improve flexibility. Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid sedentary lifestyles (especially if your occupation requires extended periods of sitting).
If you find yourself sitting or lying down for extended periods of time, make time to move around, stretch, and hydrate. Studies show prolonged sitting puts you at a higher risk for diabetes, cancer, and cardiac arrest.
When Dr. Spivak’s office closes and you still need relief, we want to provide a list of at-home stretches specifically to target back pain.
Even if all your pain is concentrated to your back, stretches should activate the entire body. Many times the back becomes injured due to injuries and strains on other parts of the body. Holistic approaches to the medical care of your body is key to eliminating back pain.
Causes of Back and Spine Pain
While you might think you hurt your back the day the pain started, a lot of times it’s triggered by lesser known reasons including alcohol consumption and prolonged poor posture.
Stress and inactivity are also unsuspecting causes of chronic back pain.
Knowing the causes doesn’t solve your current pain, but recognizing common factors can prevent future pain.
Before You Stretch
The most elite athletes stretch before they work – we should do the exact same thing.
Any free time is acceptable for stretching. A boss probably encourages small breaks to move around and get your blood circulating.
Gently test the range of your body, and do not stretch through any pain (as this may cause injury).
Please consult Dr. Spivak or your physician before beginning these stretches. If you experience pain, stop immediately and seek medical attention.
5. Table Stretch
This stretch is appropriate only after your pain has started to subside. Since your nerves are being stretched, you want to be certain the healing process has already begun.
Hold on to a table and bend at the waist keeping your legs straight. Your body should form a perfect 90-degree angle with your face downward. Hold this form for 15 seconds and repeat three more times.
The stretch should lightly pull on the nerves from the spine to the legs. Since nerves are involved, do not overuse this stretch or pain may return.
4. Piriformis Stretch
Soccer players love this stretch (or their coach always forces them to do it).
Lay on your back and bend your knees until your feet are flat on the ground. Place your right ankle on your opposite knee and lift that knee towards your chest. Switch feet and repeat.
Additionally, the piriformis stretch can relieve knee and ankle pain and plantar fasciitis.
Do not bounce to increase your range – this can lead to injury.
3. Decompression Breathing
Stand with your toes touching and heels slightly apart. Slightly bend your knees and shift your weight onto your heels, and carefully bring them together. Reach straight up into the sky over your head and press your hands together.
When you inhale, lift your chest away from your waist. Tighten your core when you exhale to strengthen the spine. Repeat this breathing to introduce oxygen flow and improve your back.
2. Pigeon Pose
Your body will look exactly how it sounds – a pigeon!
Sit with your right knee bent and the left leg extended pointed behind you. If possible, move your right foot away from your body. If the bottom of your foot faces the ceiling, bring it back to your body.
Rest your hands on your hips and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. Many forms of yoga use this stretch. The pictures of yoga instructors performing this will look moderately different from what you are trying to accomplish.
1. Hip Stretch
Sit with your legs extended and together. Bring your right foot over your left knee. Now, bring your right knee close to your chest with your hands.
Breathe 10 deep slow breaths and repeat with your other leg. The hip stretch also loosens glutes.
Continue to stretch if it keeps the pain away. Sometimes the pain won’t subside until a few minutes after the stretching is complete.
Is The Spine Pain Still There?
These stretches and others may not completely relieve the pain. There are other minimally invasive methods to feel whole again. Dr. Carl Spivak can help put together a plan for you.
Spinal Cord Stimulation – electrical impulses block the transmission of pain from different parts of the body to the brain
This treatment replaces the pain with a tingling feeling.
Yoga – some of the above-mentioned stretches are included in different styles of yoga.
Exercise – regular exercise combined with stretching can strengthen the muscles around the spinal column.
Quit Smoking – Smoking restricts blood flow to the lower back and promotes the deterioration of your disks.
Always consult your physician. Home remedies are great for the evenings and weekends, but constant pain isn’t something you should ignore.
What’s Next For You?
Hopefully, stretching is part of the solution for the painthat has kept you from enjoying the fullest in life. There are plenty of other stretches that can relieve pain and discomfort, but these stretches are useduniversallyfor many injuries and reasons.
Also: be sure to drink water.
It’s been mentioned a few times already. Taking care of your spine and neck requires lots of hydration to reduce stiffness, as areproper posture to prevent unnecessary stress on the back, and proper sleep. Yes, not enough sleep has been linked to an increase in spinal problems.
Dealing with back and spine pain of any kind is serious and deserves your attention. Stretching and the other remedies listed can improve and diminish these effects.
However, persistent and increasing pain warrants immediate examination of a physician – sometimes more. In the worst cases, surgery is recommended to correct these ailments. No one wants to do it, but it may be the thing that fixes you.
Contact Dr. Spivak if you have considered spinal procedures. We don’t want your condition to get this far, but we want you to know we are here to help.