The Spine & Back Blog

WARLICK FAMILY YMCA TRICK OR TRAIL 5K RUNJoin Dr. William Hunter and staff as we participate in the Warlick Family YMCA Trick or Trail Run at the Warlick Family YMCA on Saturday, October 28th

Warlick Family YMCA
2221 Robinwood Road
Gastonia, NC US 28054

As the title sponsor, all of us at the Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas would love to see you come out, have a great time, and support a wonderful organization.

Warlick Family YMCA

The Trick or Trail Run supports the Warlick Family YMCA, a non-profit organization committed to helping members of our community live a balanced, healthy life in spirit, mind, and body. The YMCA makes a positive impact in the Gaston County community by encouraging wellness and family on their beautiful 118-acre campus.


5K and 1-mile Fun Run on the Sytz Trail
at the Warlick Family YMCA

  • 8:00am 5K begins
  • 9:00am Fun Run begins
  • 9:30-11:30am After Party

What does the 5K Trail Look Like? 
Both the 5K race and 1 Mile Fun Run courses are on the Sytz Trail System at the Warlick Family YMCA.
View a map of the Sytz Trail System.

Can I dress up in costume?
Please do! It makes the race even more fun! Plus, the after-race party will include prizes for best costume and performance. Dogs included!

Register Now

Visit the Warlick Family YMCA Trick or Trail Run website to register now.


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.

Charlotte Talks interview with Dr. William D. Hunter and Bill Walton

Nov. 9, 2012, Charlotte Talks interview with Dr. William D. Hunter of Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas and patient, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton.



As a former professional athlete, I can tell you that back pain is something that's no joke, and I would never laugh at anybody else for back pain. 

It comes with the job, I think. It affects millions of people. We welcome back Bill Walton along with Dr. William Hunter from Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas. Dr. Hunter, thank you for joining in the conversation. Bill, before we get to know you, I know that you did suffer with back pain for 30 plus years.

I've got bad feet, bad foundation, knee injuries - it worked its way up the line - plus I broke my spine when I was playing for UCLA in 1974. So it all comes together five years, 10 months ago, my spine collapses. I spent three years on the ground. I had no idea what to do with my life. It's just incredibly excruciating, debilitating, and unrelenting pain, but then I found a doctor and a great medical device company Nuvasive that saved my life. That's absolutely incredible, and how do you ever begin to thank the people that saved your life, and that's why I'm here. I go around - I spend all my time today working with people telling him to step back from the bridge, tell him to put that gun down - because what happens is that it's so bad - it's so awful, and I was there; it was that serious. It was awful, and it just takes away from you; you can't move. I'm lying there on the ground for 3 years, and it was absolutely terrible, but I waited too long, I didn't know anybody, and so we have a Better Way Back organization ( Our phone number is 800-745-7099, and we are patient advocates and support systems to help people believe that there is life after back surgery, and the Revolutionary techniques that Dr. Hunter is using - that Nuvasive and the doctors have helped to develop, and the new equipment, technology, and techniques is totally revamped. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I have no pain, and I take no medication. I had no idea what life was like without back pain. It is a miracle what’s happened to me. 

We know that back pain is very prevalent - talk about these cutting-edge technologies that Bill is speaking of that have changed his life. 

Colleen, Gene - I think in the grand scheme of things we know that back pain is the number one reason why people go to the doctor's, right? There's a problem that we need to help patients with, and a way to do that could be undergoing some minimally invasive spine surgery, and there are new techniques like Bill was talking about. There's new fancy techniques that we can do nowadays that we wouldn't dream of doing before. We are in the operating room doing these fancy techniques, able to reconstruct the spine safely so there's less pain, less time in the operating room, less hospitalization stay. All these things are going to benefit patients so they can get back to work, get back to their families, and get back to their job.

The revolution that has taken over every part of our world's technology, science - everything - has come to back surgery. Nuvasive, Dr. Hunter, they're driving this to ever-new heights. It’s absolutely incredible: the less blood loss, the less chance of infection with the minimally-invasive procedure. There used to be big long giant cuts; nobody ever had a positive thing to say about it. Now it’s little tiny incisions, and you're in and out of that hospital, and it's the greatest.

Do you think that’s why people wait so long? You said you waited too long; you've talked about that before - is it because they fear what it could - what I think it is. I was terrified; I've had 36 orthopedic operations, but those were on joints and bones - this was my spine. I never talked to a single person before my surgery. I didn't know about invasive. I didn't know about the Better Way Back organization. I didn't know that about minimally invasive surgery. I was told by my friend Jim Gray, the legendary broadcaster. I was on the floor and able to think, unable to eat, unable to move. It was absolutely terrible, and without having ever talked to anybody about the positive aspects of what can be done here, and people like the Doctor Hunter and Nuvasive - they've saved my life, and so now I just go around ringing the chimes of freedom all the time.

One last question: who's the luckiest guy?

I’m the luckiest guy. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

You can find Doctor Hunter at the Neuroscience and Spine Center of the Carolinas. It's just a short drive from Charlotte. The number 704-864-5550. It's good to see you as always and just such a pleasure to meet you.

I can't wipe the smile off my face. I had no idea what life was like without back pain. 

Oh my gosh, Dr. Hunter, thank you thank you.