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

Lillie Earl

Age: 65
Hometown: Polkville, N.C.
Surgeon: Dr. William Hunter of Neuroscience and Spine of the Carolinas, Gastonia, N.C.
Procedure: XLIF®
Levels treated: L3-5
Surgery date: June 9, 2011

“I’m so grateful to be able to do simple things like walk and bend down.” – Lillie

Life prior to surgery:
Lillie’s back problems started in her late 20s after she sustained an injury while helping her sister move furniture. She immediately felt a sharp pain in her back and in the subsequent years struggled with sporadic episodes of pain. She tried various conservative treatments like physical therapy, exercise, pain medication and visits to a chiropractor, but all failed to provide relief. A sneeze or cough would aggravate her pain. Eventually her pain worsened to the point where she could barely move, and she had to rush to the emergency room several times and was put on pain medication. In the last year prior to surgery, she was forced to be in bed half the day. The debilitating pain meant that she couldn’t enjoy activities like painting because she couldn’t stand or sit for long periods of time. Eventually, Lillie’s primary care physician referred her to Dr. William Hunter. She underwent an MRI which revealed a severe back condition. Dr. Hunter recommended back surgery, but Lillie was fearful of having the surgery at first. She had support of her family and friends, was willing to try anything and had a lot of faith in Dr. Hunter.

Situation today:
Lillie had a successful XLIF® on June 9, and she went home the day after surgery. She experienced some post-op incision pain but could immediately notice that her chronic back pain had disappeared. “The pain wasn’t the same type of pain as it was before.” Recovery was slow, but each week she felt improvement. She started physical therapy one month after surgery and found the exercises very helpful. Now, she feels wonderful; she is able to walk around and frequently walks on the treadmill. Lillie was even able to go on vacation with her husband only four months post-op. She is now off all pain medications, with the exception of a muscle relaxer, and she can finally attend church and go to movies again!


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