The Spine & Back Blog

When conservative treatments fail to alleviate severe back pain caused by conditions like degenerative disc disease or spinal instability, surgical intervention may be necessary. Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) surgery is a procedure commonly performed to address these spinal conditions. Below we’ll explore what TLIF surgery entails, discuss the benefits it offers, and identify the individuals who can benefit the most from this surgical approach.

What Is TLIF Surgery?

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) surgery is a spinal fusion procedure that focuses on stabilizing the lumbar spine, specifically the lower back. It involves accessing the spine from a posterior approach, typically through a small incision in the lower back. During the procedure, the damaged disc or bone material is removed, and bone grafts or implants are inserted to promote fusion between adjacent vertebrae. This fusion helps alleviate pain, restore stability, and improve the overall functionality of the spine.

Benefits of Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) Surgery:

a. Pain Relief: TLIF surgery is highly effective in reducing back and leg pain caused by conditions like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis. By decompressing nerve roots and stabilizing the affected area, the surgery alleviates pressure on nerves, resulting in significant pain relief.

BENEFITS OF TRANSFORAMINAL LUMBAR INTERBODY FUSION (TLIF) SURGERYb. Spinal Stability: One of the key benefits of TLIF surgery is the restoration of spinal stability. The fusion between vertebrae eliminates abnormal movement and instability in the affected segment of the spine. This stability helps prevent further degeneration and reduces the likelihood of future complications.

c. Improved Functionality: Individuals who undergo TLIF surgery often experience an improvement in their ability to perform daily activities. By addressing the underlying cause of pain and instability, the surgery enables patients to regain mobility, flexibility, and overall functionality.

d. Reduced Dependency on Medication: Chronic back pain often requires long-term medication use, which can have side effects and limitations. TLIF surgery offers the potential for a significant reduction in pain, allowing patients to rely less on pain medication and potentially improving their overall quality of life.

e. Faster Recovery: While recovery times can vary, TLIF surgery generally offers a faster recovery compared to traditional open spinal surgeries. The minimally invasive nature of TLIF, with smaller incisions and reduced muscle trauma, contributes to a quicker return to daily activities and work.

Who Can Benefit Most From TLIF Surgery?

a. Spinal Instability: Individuals with spinal instability resulting from degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or spinal trauma can benefit greatly from TLIF surgery. The fusion procedure stabilizes the affected segment, reducing pain and preventing further degeneration.

Benefits of Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) Surgeryb. Disc Herniation: TLIF surgery is effective in addressing herniated discs that cause significant pain, nerve compression, and functional limitations. The procedure removes the damaged disc material and provides stability, relieving pressure on the affected nerves.

c. Spinal Stenosis: TLIF surgery can benefit individuals with spinal stenosis, a condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal. By decompressing the nerves and stabilizing the spine, the surgery relieves pain and restores functionality.

d. Failed Conservative Treatments: Patients who have exhausted non-surgical treatment options, such as physical therapy, medication, and injections, without experiencing sufficient relief may be suitable candidates for TLIF surgery.

The NSSC Spine Clinic Can Help Determine The Best Approach For You

If you are experiencing chronic back pain, transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) surgery is a highly effective and minimally invasive procedure to consider. It is recommended for treating various spinal conditions that cause severe back pain and instability. That said, it is only one of your many options for reducing your pain and improving your quality of life.

To better understand treatment options, and what is best for your circumstances, please contact the NSSC Spine Clinic in Gastonia, NC today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hunter. Dr. William Hunter is a board-certified neurosurgeon and spine specialist with over two decades of experience offering various treatments for back pain relief, including spine surgery, as well as minimally invasive techniques, and regenerative medical treatments.

Back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide. While some cases may require surgical intervention, there are numerous non-invasive treatment options available that can effectively alleviate back pain and promote long-term recovery. In this article, we will explore various non-invasive treatments, including minimally invasive surgery, physical therapy, steroid shots, acupuncture, stem cell injections, and other approaches. By understanding the benefits of these alternative treatments, individuals can make informed decisions about managing their back pain.

Minimally Invasive Surgery:

Way’s To Treat Back Pain Without Invasive SurgeryMinimally invasive surgery has revolutionized the field of back pain treatment. Unlike traditional open surgery, minimally invasive procedures involve smaller incisions, reduced trauma to surrounding tissues, and shorter recovery times. Techniques such as endoscopic discectomy are utilized to address specific spinal conditions, such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis.

While surgical intervention may be necessary in some cases, exploring non-invasive options first is often recommended.

Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy plays a vital role in treating back pain by focusing on strengthening the muscles that support the spine, improving flexibility, and correcting posture. A trained physical therapist will develop a personalized exercise program that targets the specific needs of the patient. This approach can alleviate pain, improve range of motion, and restore functionality without resorting to invasive procedures.

Steroid Shots:

Corticosteroid injections can be an effective treatment for back pain associated with inflammation, such as herniated discs or spinal arthritis. These injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected area, reducing pain and swelling. While the relief may be temporary, steroid shots can provide substantial pain relief, allowing patients to engage in physical therapy or other non-invasive treatments for long-term management.


Acupuncture For Back Pain ReductionAcupuncture, an ancient Chinese therapy, involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. This technique stimulates the release of endorphins and promotes blood flow, aiding in pain reduction and the healing process. Numerous studies have shown that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for chronic back pain, offering a non-invasive alternative to surgery.

Stem Cell Injections:

Stem cell therapy (stem cell injections) is a promising regenerative treatment option that holds great potential for treating back pain. Stem cells can differentiate into various specialized cells, aiding in tissue repair and regeneration. In the context of back pain, stem cell injections can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and potentially regenerate damaged spinal tissues. While this field is still developing, initial studies show promising results, and ongoing research aims to optimize its effectiveness.

Other Non-Invasive Treatments:

In addition to the aforementioned treatments, there are several other non-invasive options worth exploring. These include chiropractic care, massage therapy, heat and cold therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Each approach targets different aspects of back pain, ranging from realignment and muscle relaxation to pain modulation and psychological well-being. Depending on the underlying cause and individual preferences, these treatments can offer valuable alternatives to invasive surgery.

Benefits of Non-Invasive Treatments:

The benefits of non-invasive treatments for back pain are multifaceted. Firstly, they reduce or eliminate the risks associated with surgery, such as infection, bleeding, and longer recovery times. Non-invasive approaches also allow individuals to avoid the potential complications of anesthesia and the inherent challenges of post-operative rehabilitation. Furthermore, these treatments can often address the root causes of pain, promoting long-term healing and preventing recurrence, rather than providing temporary relief. 

Every patient has their own unique circumstances. For some, surgical intervention may be the best approach, while non-surgical, or minimally invasive surgical options may be right for others.

The NSSC Spine Clinic Can Help Determine The Best Approach For You

Back pain can significantly impact a person's quality of life, but surgery is only one of your options, and may or may not be the best solution for you. Dr. William Hunter is a board-certified neurosurgeon and spine specialist with over two decades of experience with various treatment options for back pain relief, including minimally invasive techniques and regenerative medical treatments. Contact the NSSC Spine Clinic in Gastonia, NC today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hunter.

SPINE HEALTH AND BACK PAIN PREVENTION LUNCH AND LEARN (Gastonia, NC)Dr. William Hunter was the featured presenter for a Lunch and Learn at the Warlick YMCA (Gaston County Family YMCA) last week.  There was a great turnout, as 35 people attended the educational event. Dr. Hunter spoke on behalf of both NSSC Spine Clinic (Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas) and the Medical Aesthetics Regenerative Center (MARC), discussing important topics related to spine health and back pain prevention, as well as stem cell therapy.

Spine Health and Prevention of Back Pain

Back problems and related pain can be extremely debilitating, especially as individuals grow older. Dr. Hunter provided education and discussed common back problems, the anatomy of the spine, treatments for back pain including physical therapy as well as the importance for exercise, stretching, and working on core strength for spine health. He also stressed the importance of good nutrition and stress management, for overall health - "A body in motion stays in motion."

Additionally, Dr Hunter discussed common back surgeries and how many back and spine surgeries can now be done on a minimally invasive, outpatient basis.

Stem Cell Therapy (and treatments)

STEM CELL THERAPY (Gastonia, NC)Doctor Hunter then discussed how he has been using stem cell therapy as part of his spinal fusion surgeries since 2008 to assist in the fusion of bone and recovery. Furthermore, Dr. Hunter has been doing stem cell treatments, which can regenerate damaged tissue and reduce pain, for joints such as knee, hip, and shoulders. Dr. Hunter discussed the benefits of stem cell therapy, as well as the difference between platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and Stem cell therapy.

Finally, the presentation ended after a long Q & A session with Doctor Hunter and the staff from the NSSC Spine Clinic and MARC.

Dr. William Hunter, Back And Spine Specialist

If you are concerned about back or neck pain you've been experiencing, make an appointment with Dr. Hunter, spine specialist and neurosurgeon at NSSC Spine Clinic. He has the experience and expertise needed to treat all types of back pain. The NSSC Spine Clinic has been serving Gastonia and the broader Charlotte, NC area including Belmont, Mount Holly, Gaston County, Meckleburg County, and portions of South Carolina for over 22 years.

Medical Aesthetics Regenerative Center

Medical Aesthetics Regenerative Center, Gastonia, North CarolinaMedical Aesthetics Regenerative Center (MARC) specializes in personalized treatments utilizing innovative technologies and the latest advances in science, medicine and holistic healthcare, including stem cell therapy, weight management, aesthetic rejuvenation, botox neurotoxin injections, PRP, microdermabrasion and more. MARC has been serving Gastonia and the broader Charlotte, North Carolina area for over 15 years. To learn more, contact MARC today.


Hydrocephalus is a condition that causes excessive cerebrospinal fluid to accumulate in the brain. This can result in spreading of the ventricles in the brain, which can lead to potentially harmful pressure on the brain tissue. The name means “water on the brain.” Hydrocephalus can be a congenital condition or the result of injury or disease. Although hydrocephalus can occur at any age, it's more common among infants and older adults.

Causes of Brain Tumors:

Hydrocephalus is caused by an instability between how much cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced and how much is absorbed into the bloodstream. An excess amount of CSF places pressure on the brain. This pushes the brain up against the skull and damages brain tissue.
Hydrocephalus may begin while the baby is developing and growing in the womb. It is common in babies who have amyelomeningocele, a birth defect where the spinal column does not close correctly. Hydrocephalus may also result from genetic defects, certain infections during pregnancy, infections such as meningitis or encephalitis, injury or trauma.

Symptoms of Brain Tumors:

  • Eyes that appear to gaze downward
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Separated sutures
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting
  • Speech difficulties
  • Hearing problems