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


Age: 66
Hometown: Gastonia, N.C.
Surgeon: Dr. William Hunter
Indications: stenosis
Procedure: XLIF®
Levels treated: L1-5
Surgery date: October 22, 2010

“What Dr. Hunter did for me is a blessing that I want to share to the world. Back surgery is not what people say it is, and I am living proof.” – Joe

Life prior to surgery:
Joe believes his back problems, which started in 2008, resulted from a knee replacement he had during that year. The knee surgery perpetuated complications which caused some initial back pain, but eventually the pain subsided, so Joe continued on with his life. To Joe’s dismay, his pain returned and progressively worsened.

Joe decided to undergo epidural injections to treat the pain, but that only provided temporary relief for about one year. During his final injections, he said it felt like “air was pumping into a tire with a gaping hole in it,” and the injections provided no relief. Joe worked as a truck driver, and eventually his pain became so severe that he was forced to retire early. He consulted with a doctor at Duke University, who told Joe that he was unable to help his condition.

When Joe’s pain began radiating down his legs, he underwent a discogram and was referred to Dr. William Hunter. Initially, Joe feared a surgical treatment due to all the negative things he had heard about spine surgery. He wanted to try conventional pain management first. However, when Joe met Dr. Hunter, they instantly “clicked,” which made Joe feel very comfortable with Dr. Hunter’s surgical recommendation.

Situation today:
Joe underwent XLIF® surgery in October 2010.  His surgery lasted roughly two hours, and he walked out of the hospital that day! According to Joe, “three other doctors were afraid to touch me, but Dr. Hunter proved them all wrong! What a mighty doctor he is! He and my faith helped me through this.”

Joe participated in light physical therapy and started walking on a treadmill almost immediately. He was prescribed pain medications but rarely took them. Now, Joe is not only pain free but he is no longer fearful of living with the chronic pain again that affected his life and relationships with his loved ones. This is the beginning of a new life for Joe, a life where he can do whatever he wants to do. Joe enjoys working in the yard and doing his daily activities pain-free and even without the help of his back brace.  He claims, “people need to know that there is LIFE after back surgery. I thank Dr. Hunter for the amazing miracle that he performed.”


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