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

Dr. William Hunter, MD

Dr. William Hunter, Neurosurgeon of Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas in Gastonia, North CarolinaDr. Hunter has been practicing Neurosurgery for over a decade.  He has been involved with new and innovative techniques for spinal surgery throughout this time.  Dr Hunter currently teaches minimally invasive spine techniques across the United States.

He received his undergraduate degree in Biology at Denison University in Ohio and then obtained a Masters Degree at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, in Physiology and Biophysics. On completion of his Masters he went to Georgetown Medical School, where he also completed his residency.  Dr. Hunter then joined the University of Wisconsin, as an assistant professor where he trained neurosurgery residents and medical students in medical and surgical treatments of brain and spine diseases.  Two years later, Dr. Hunter left the University of Wisconsin to pursue his carrier as a Spine surgeon in a private practice.  He joined Neuroscience and Spine Center of the Carolinas, where he has been working since 2000.

Dr. Hunter has been involved in the spinal program at Caromont Regional Hospital, since the beginning of his carrier and is considered as a leader for bringing new and innovative micro surgical techniques to the hospital and his patients. The hospital has been awarded top on the list for “Best Hospital’s in North Carolina”, with the spine program deemed as one of the best in the state.
Providing the best possible quality care to his patients is Dr. Hunter’s main concern. Although he runs a very busy private practice, he still makes sure that he finds the time to teach.  His lectures and seminars usually revolve around new and innovative minimally invasive spine surgical techniques.  He has taught spinal surgery at Duke University and also teaches across the United States providing his expertise on spinal surgery.  He is very passionate about what he does and always strives to deliver the best care to his patients.  He has been board certified since 2001 with the American Board of Neurological Surgeons.