The Spine & Back Blog

Weight Loss Back PainDropping weight is an important step in preventing and/or reducing back pain. A recent study revealed how shedding extra pounds can prevent disc degeneration in your spine, particularly in the lumbar region. In the study, published by Arthritis & Rheumatism, researchers found that disc degeneration is more prevalent and severe among overweight individuals.

Overweight individuals tend to carry more weight in their midsection which can cause the spine to bend forward. This can lead to gradual changes in the spine that can cause spinal issues like disc degeneration.

Eating healthy, minimally processed foods is an excellent way to kick-start your weight loss journey. Also, strengthening the core muscles in your abdomen help to support your spinal column. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that overweight men who exercised for one hour per week reduced their risk of back pain by 20%.

Although a lot of back pain requires medical intervention, a good first step is weight loss. If you’d like more information, please give us a call at: 704-864-5550

Lower Back Pain Exercise

Exercise can be very helpful for dealing with low back pain. When completing these exercises, be gentle. Do not force movement and do not continue if your pain intensifies. If comfortable, repeat these exercises 2-3x per day.

  1. Hamstring: Lying on floor, pull thigh towards your chest to about 90 degrees. Straighten your knee until a stretch is felt in back of thigh. Hold 1 minute. Repeat with opposite leg.
  2. Hip Flexors: Lying on you back, pull one knee to the chest to keep the back flat. Allow the opposite thigh to drop over the edge of the bed. Do not allow the thigh to move away from the midline or rotate. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat 2 times each leg.
  3. Knee to Chest: Pull knee into chest until a comfortable stretch is felt in hip and lower back. Hold 15 seconds. Repeat with opposite leg. Repeat 5-10 times each leg
  4. Pelvic Tilt: Flatten back by tightening stomach and buttock muscles. Hold 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Tail Wag: On all fours with back maintained in neutral position, gently move hips toward rib cage to side bend trunk. Hold briefly, then alternate and do other side. Repeat 10-15 times.
  6. Cat Cow: On all fours, assume a “hump” back position by arching the back up. Hold briefly and then slowly lower the back into a sagging position. Repeat 10-15 times.
  7. Lumbar Rotation: Slowly rock knees from side to side in a pain free range of motion. Allow back to rotate slightly. Repeat 10-15 times.

*these exercises were recommended by UC Berkeley

Min Invasive Spine SurgeryMinimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) is an excellent alternative to open spine surgery and often results in quicker recovery times. MISS utilizes significantly smaller incisions causing less harm to surrounding muscle and tissue.

MISS is often used to relieve pressure or stabilize the spine which can be helpful for some patients who suffer from conditions like bone spurs, scoliosis, spinal tumors, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and more.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that MISS can have the following benefits:

  • Reduced scarring from smaller skin incisions which lead to better cosmetic outcomes
  • Reduced blood loss from surgery
  • Reduced risk of muscle damage, since less or no cutting of the muscle is required
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Quicker recovery from surgery
  • Diminished reliance on pain medications after surgery

Your doctor will be able to guide you in determining whether or not minimally invasive spine surgery will be helpful for you. If you are suffering from back pain and would like to see a doctor, please call our office and schedule an appointment today: 704-864-5550

Charles Wierman

Age: 71
Hometown: Denver, N.C.
Surgeon: Dr. William Hunter
Indications: spondylolisthes, stenosis
Procedure: XLIF®
Levels Treated: L4-5
Surgery Date: March 14, 2011

“I’m so satisfied with my surgical results with Dr. Hunter. I’d recommend him to anyone!” – Charles

Life prior to surgery:
Charles struggled with pain for several years. He originally tried to mitigate his pain through a variety of pain management techniques for about six to eight months while undergoing numerous epidural shots. However, the shots became less and less effective, and he was at a point where he was scheduled for injections every two weeks. At first, this offered some relief to his pain, but eventually they stopped providing any relief all together. His feet became very unstable, and he could barely stand, forcing him to used a cane to walk around. Charles became desperate for a long term solution. He was referred to Dr. William Hunter by both his friend and his pain management doctor. Dr. Hunter looked at Charles’ MRI and noticed that he had a cyst on his vertebrae which was pinching the nerves and causing his excessive pain. He underwent his first spinal procedure with Dr. Hunter in March 2010, which provided temporary relief. Unfortunately, his right leg pain returned due to severe disc degeneration in his lower back. At this point, Dr. Hunter recommended the XLIF® procedure. He wasn’t nervous or anxious about spine surgery because he trusted Dr. Hunter and had his faith in God. According to Charles, “I couldn’t live with the pain any longer.”

Situation today:
Charles had his XLIF® surgery in March 2011 and was walking the day after surgery with the assistance of a cane. Although the cain aided in his recovery, he immediately noticed a massive reduction in the pain that hindered him just days before. He was able to return home after just one day in the hospital. When he returned home, he did some in-home physical therapy to regain muscle strength and continued with the exercises over the subsequent months. Now, Charles has no leg or lower back pain and is able to lead an active lifestyle once again! Charles is especially pleased that he is now able to play, pain-free with his four-year-old grandson! He was also able to resume one of his favorite past times, deer hunting, shortly after his surgery. He would recommend Dr. Hunter to anyone who asks and continues to share his story about how well he has recovered.


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