The Spine & Back Blog

Female with back pain speaking with neurosurgeonBack and neck pain affects thousands of people. Sometimes, the pain is acute; sometimes it chronic back and neck pain. People manage this type of pain in many different ways. Sometimes they rely on non-surgical treatments for back pain like medication--both prescription and over the counter or non pharmacological treatment for pain like heating and cold solutions or stretching. If back pain continues, however, it's important to have it investigated by a physician who specializes in back and neck issues. In fact, your primary care doctor is likely to refer you to a spine specialist if your back pain continues unabated. If you're coping with back pain that will not subside, it's important to visit a spine specialist for help.

Getting to the Root of Neck & Back Pain

Often, people can pinpoint when and why their back and neck pain began. They may have suffered a back muscle sprain or strain after performing yard work or moving furniture. This type of back injury may clear up on its own after a few days or, in some cases, a few weeks. When back pain persists, over-the-counter medications can often be used to treat the issue during the healing process.

Chronic neck and back pain is another type of problem altogether. Your physician may have told you that if your back or neck pain persists for more than 12 weeks, you likely need a different sort of treatment or medical intervention. In many cases, your physician will refer you to a spine specialist like a neurosurgeon who can diagnose the problem and prescribe a remedy.

Your neurosurgeon is likely to discuss the various causes for your back or neck pain such as:

There may be other causes that your spine specialist can point to depending on your specific circumstances.

How Can a Neurosurgeon Help?

A neurosurgeon will review x rays and other tests in order to help with diagnosing back pain. Non-surgical treatments, like physical therapy, acupuncture, traction, and massage, to provide back pain relief are always considered first. Your spine specialist might recommend weight loss or lifestyle changes to help you combat pain and address the root cause of your back pain. If a surgical procedure is indicated to treat your back pain, your neurosurgeon will discuss minimally invasive procedures, stem cell injections, and spine surgery with you.

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. William 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 20 years.

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There are many different causes for debilitating back pain - muscle spasms, muscle strains, a back injury, disc issues, and arthritic spine changes can cause so much pain. It is difficult to focus and perform even the most basic activities of daily living.  Regardless of the cause of back pain, chronic back pain can become debilitating and keep you from enjoying a happy, healthy life. The good news is, lower back pain relief is often just a few simple back stretches away.

Because back pain can be so debilitating, a lot of people turn to muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory and pain medications to deal with their pain.  However, most back pain can be resolved by lower back exercises to keep muscles that support your spine strong and flexible, as well as, keeping your core strong. Following a daily stretching routine can promote better functioning of the back, decrease back pain and reduce the amount or need for medications.

Why is stretching so effective?

Stretching everyday relaxes tight muscles and improves circulation helping to to alleviate back pain. Stretching also improves muscle strength and agility. Strong muscles in your back and your abdomen will help diminish pain and  lower the chance of future injury. However, in order to get the result you are looking for, it is vitally important to make and keep a daily stretching routine.

Which lower back pain stretches provide the best results?

  • Stretches for back pain: cat camel poses
    Cat-Camel Back Stretch
    Child’s Pose Stretch: Begin on all fours. Sit your hips back while reaching out your arms forward until a mild stretch is felt in the back. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.
  • Cat-Camel Back Stretch: Begin on all fours. Arch your back towards the ceiling and hold. Then arch your back towards the ground and hold. Hold each stretch for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times.
  • Trunk Rotation Stretch: Begin lying on the mat with knees bent. While maintaining upper back flat on the ground, rotate legs towards the floor until a stretch is felt. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Hold each stretch for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times.
  • Hip Flexor Stretch: Begin by kneeling on a mat. Lean forward towards the bent front knee until a stretch in front of the opposite thigh is felt. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.
  • Hamstring Stretch: Begin sitting on the floor with one leg straight, and the other bent. While maintaining a flat back, lean forward by hinging from the hip until a stretch is felt behind the thigh. Repeat on the other leg. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

When To Stretch

While stretching is one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain, consistency is key. In order for stretching to work, you should plan to stretch at least 2 times every day. Stretching right when you wake up is a great way to start your day.  Stretching in the morning will increase blood flow to muscles and kick start your day. Stretching before you go to sleep will help relax and loosen any tight muscles and promote a good night sleep. In addition to stretching in the morning and night, try to incorporate these lower back stretches at work.

Back pain can keep you from feeling and performing at your highest level. With the right stretches for lower back pain, you can build strength, alleviate back pain, and maximize your performance. So why not give stretching a try!

Not Feeling Relief from lower back exercises?

Or, if you've been doing shoulder and neck stretches and still are experiencing neck and shoulder pain, there are alternatives to open spine surgery. Dr. Hunter at The Spine Clinic at the Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas specializes in minimally invasive surgery and non surgical treatments for back pain and any back injury. Non surgical treatments include accupuncture, steroid shots, electrical stimulation, and stem cell injections.

If you're in the Gastonia or Charlotte area, or even South Carolina, Dr. Hunter can help. Conservative treatment is our approach, unless you've exhausted all options. You can rest easy knowing you'll be accurately evaluated, and have access to the most cutting-edge techniques and facilities available in the country.

Ready For Your Back Pain Consultation?

Call 704.864.5550

Dr. Hunter, neurosurgeon in Gastonia, NC, celebrates his 20 year anniversary at the Spine Clinic (source: freepik.com)Dr. Hunter celebrated his 20th year of practice at NSSC Spine Clinic this past June. Dr. Hunter joined the NSSC Spine Clinic in June, 2000, after working for 2 years at the University of Wisconsin Hospital Department of Neurosurgery. 

Board Certified for over 20 years, Dr. Hunter and his staff strive to provide the most up to date advanced spine surgery techniques and procedures. While providing quality care at Caromont Regional Hospital, Dr. Hunter continues to bring new and innovative spine techniques to his practice. 

“It has certainly been a pleasure to be able to provide neurosurgical care for the past 20 years to the residents of Gaston County and the Charlotte area,” said Dr. Hunter. “A lot has changed at this practice over the past 20 years and I am looking forward to continue to expand our services in the coming years.” 

About The NSSC Spine Clinic

Located in Gastonia, The Spine Clinic of Neuroscience and Spine Center of the Carolina specializes in treatments for chronic back and neck pain, spondylolisthesis, lumbar spinal stenosis, spinal injuries, lumbar degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, as well as issues involving the brain and nerves. We offer brain surgery, carpal tunnel surgery, non-surgical treatment, surgical minimally invasive procedures, stem cell injections, and spine surgery.

Are you suffering from pain and in need of a doctor who can help you with your back pain? Call our office today!

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.

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TRANSCRIPT:

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 (thebetterwayback.org). 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.