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: 63
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Surgeon: Dr. William Hunter
Indications: stenosis
Procedure: XLIF®
Levels treated: L2-4
Surgery date: November 8, 2010

“Having back pain and going through failed surgeries does more than just hurt your body, it takes away the joy and hope in your life. I was walking just hours after my surgery and was completely pain-free just days after that. I can now spend my time enjoying the things I love rather than feeling like I am suffering 24/7.” – Laurette

Life prior to surgery:
When her traditional spine surgery in April 2009 failed to relieve the chronic back pain she had been suffering with for years, Laurette went into severe depression. Her unrelenting pain limited her ability to work and made it hard for her to sit, stand or lie down. She was often forced to crawl on the floor just to get around. She was miserable and was desperate to find a solution to the pain that was ruining her life. Still, she was scared at the thought of another back surgery but wasn’t ready to consider herself “over the hill” yet. Subsequently, Laurette tried every conservative treatment option she could find including physical therapy, epidural injections and prescription medications to get her life back. Unfortunately, none of the treatments provided any long-term pain relief.

As her pain became increasingly worse, Laurette realized her options were limited — she would either need another spine surgery or be forced to purchase a power chair in order to get around. Wrestling with what to do, she visited her family doctor who suggested she see spine surgeon, Dr. William Hunter. At her initial consultation, Dr. Hunter explained the benefits of XLIF® surgery that used a lateral approach to access the spine which made recovery much different from what she had experienced with her first back operation. Excited at the possibility of a solution to her pain, she scheduled her XLIF® procedure for November 2010.

Situation today:
After undergoing the XLIF® operation, Laurette was amazed at how quickly she recovered. Her chronic back pain disappeared immediately, and she was walking just a few hours after the surgery. She returned home a day later feeling better than she had in years! Laurette now enjoys walking and spending time with her husband and is looking forward to being able to participate in activities like gardening and cooking —  things she had virtually given up prior to her operation. She is passionate about her successful XLIF® outcome and the tremendous difference it has made in her life and wants to tell the world.


PREVIOUS ENTRY                                                         NEXT ENTRY