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

Christine Watson

Age: 59
Hometown: Gastonia, N.C.
Surgeon: Dr. William Hunter
Indications: spondylolisthesis
Procedure: XLIF®
Surgery date: February 14, 2011

“I’m so grateful for Dr. Hunter for this miracle!” – Christine

Life prior to surgery:
Christine struggles with Lupis and constantly had health issues. Her back pain started gradually and started running down her legs. She underwent a spine surgery in 2002 for herniated disc. After this surgery, she was in extreme pain. It took Christine a whole year to get back to her “normal” lifestyle, and she was forced to walk with a cane. Over the subsequent years, she sought multiple consultations with surgeons who recommended conservative care. She tried epidurals for several years, but these failed to provide long-term pain relief. She experienced numbness and a burning sensation in her legs, which inhibited Christine’s ability to stand, walk or do any type of exercises. Christine was then referred to Dr. Hunter by a friend and sought a consultation. “The pain was completely affecting my life and I was tired of hurting and going back and forth between doctors. I couldn’t sleep at night because of the pain.” Dr. Hunter diagnosed her with disc degeneration. Dr. Hunter recommended the XLIF® procedure, and although she was fearful, her pain was so severe in her back and legs that she was willing to try anything for relief. “I felt like my legs were burning before surgery. It was so painful!”

Situation today:
Christine had XLIF® surgery on February 14, 2011. When she awoke from surgery, she was able to walk immediately! She was able to dress herself the morning after and returned home. She struggled with initial muscle spasms, which subsided quickly, and Christine didn’t have to take any pain pills. She was able to resume light household chores immediately. Christine was amazed at how quickly she was able to recover. She didn’t need the assistance of in-home physical therapy because she understood which exercises she needed to do throughout her recovery due to her previous surgical experiences. She started walking daily around her neighborhood, and within three weeks time, she was back to walking four miles per day. “I would recommend this surgery to anybody!” Now enjoys doing activities like Zumba, which she was never able to do before, and she’s thinking of trying some yoga in the near future.


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