The Spine & Back Blog

There are many different causes for debilitating back pain - muscle spasms, muscle strains, a back injury, disc issues, and arthritic spine changes can cause so much pain. It is difficult to focus and perform even the most basic activities of daily living.  Regardless of the cause of back pain, chronic back pain can become debilitating and keep you from enjoying a happy, healthy life. The good news is, lower back pain relief is often just a few simple back stretches away.

Because back pain can be so debilitating, a lot of people turn to muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory and pain medications to deal with their pain.  However, most back pain can be resolved by lower back exercises to keep muscles that support your spine strong and flexible, as well as, keeping your core strong. Following a daily stretching routine can promote better functioning of the back, decrease back pain and reduce the amount or need for medications.

Why is stretching so effective?

Stretching everyday relaxes tight muscles and improves circulation helping to to alleviate back pain. Stretching also improves muscle strength and agility. Strong muscles in your back and your abdomen will help diminish pain and  lower the chance of future injury. However, in order to get the result you are looking for, it is vitally important to make and keep a daily stretching routine.

Which lower back pain stretches provide the best results?

  • Child’s Pose Stretch: Begin on all fours. Sit your hips back while reaching out your arms forward until a mild stretch is felt in the back. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.
  • Cat-Camel Back Stretch: Begin on all fours. Arch your back towards the ceiling and hold. Then arch your back towards the ground and hold. Hold each stretch for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times.
  • Trunk Rotation Stretch: Begin lying on the mat with knees bent. While maintaining upper back flat on the ground, rotate legs towards the floor until a stretch is felt. Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Hold each stretch for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times.
  • Hip Flexor Stretch: Begin by kneeling on a mat. Lean forward towards the bent front knee until a stretch in front of the opposite thigh is felt. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.
  • Hamstring Stretch: Begin sitting on the floor with one leg straight, and the other bent. While maintaining a flat back, lean forward by hinging from the hip until a stretch is felt behind the thigh. Repeat on the other leg. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

When To Stretch

While stretching is one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain, consistency is key. In order for stretching to work, you should plan to stretch at least 2 times every day. Stretching right when you wake up is a great way to start your day.  Stretching in the morning will increase blood flow to muscles and kick start your day. Stretching before you go to sleep will help relax and loosen any tight muscles and promote a good night sleep. In addition to stretching in the morning and night, try to incorporate these lower back stretches at work.

Back pain can keep you from feeling and performing at your highest level. With the right stretches for lower back pain, you can build strength, alleviate back pain, and maximize your performance. So why not give stretching a try!

Not Feeling Relief from lower back exercises?

Or, if you've been doing shoulder and neck stretches and still are experiencing neck and shoulder pain, there are alternatives to open spine surgery. Dr. Hunter at The Spine Clinic at the Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas specializes in minimally invasive surgery and non surgical treatments for back pain and any back injury. Non surgical treatments include accupuncture, steroid shots, electrical stimulation, and stem cell injections.

If you're in the Gastonia or Charlotte area, or even South Carolina, Dr. Hunter can help. Conservative treatment is our approach, unless you've exhausted all options. You can rest easy knowing you'll be accurately evaluated, and have access to the most cutting-edge techniques and facilities available in the country.

Ready For Your Back Pain Consultation?

Call 704.864.5550

Dr. Hunter celebrated his 20th year of practice at NSSC Spine Clinic this past June. Dr. Hunter joined the NSSC Spine Clinic in June, 2000, after working for 2 years at the University of Wisconsin Hospital Department of Neurosurgery. 

Board Certified for over 20 years, Dr. Hunter and his staff strive to provide the most up to date advanced spine surgery techniques and procedures. While providing quality care at Caromont Regional Hospital, Dr. Hunter continues to bring new and innovative spine techniques to his practice. 

“It has certainly been a pleasure to be able to provide neurosurgical care for the past 20 years to the residents of Gaston County and the Charlotte area,” said Dr. Hunter. “A lot has changed at this practice over the past 20 years and I am looking forward to continue to expand our services in the coming years.” 

About The NSSC Spine Clinic

Located in Gastonia, The Spine Clinic of Neuroscience and Spine Center of the Carolina specializes in treatments for chronic back and neck pain, spondylolisthesis, lumbar spinal stenosis, spinal injuries, lumbar degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, as well as issues involving the brain and nerves. We offer brain surgery, carpal tunnel surgery, non-surgical treatment, surgical minimally invasive procedures, stem cell injections, and spine surgery.

Are you suffering from pain and in need of a doctor who can help you with your back pain? Call our office today!

What is spondylolisthesis?

Spondylolisthesis (pronounced “spon-dl-oh-lis-THEE-sis”) is a condition involving the vertebrae (bones) in your spine. In spondylolisthesis, one of the vertebrae in your spine slips out of place putting pressure on nerves and causing pain. Most often, the vertebrae in the lower spine are affected causing pain in your legs when you walk or stand for a long period of time. Some patients will experience no symptoms.

Types of spondylolisthesis:

  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis: The most common form of this disorder occurs with aging. As we age, the discs between our vertebrae wear down. This is due to the loss of water in the discs making the discs less spongy and less able to resist movement of the vertebrae. Since we all age differently, spondylolisthesis can affect patients at various ages. Degenerative spondylolisthesis occurs most often after the age of 40.
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis: This occurs if you get a small fracture or break in your vertebrae due to an injury. The break weakens the bone to the point that it causes the vertebrae to slip out of place.
  • Congenital spondylolisthesis: This type of spondylolisthesis is present at birth and is the result of the abnormal formation of bone. This results in the abnormal arrangement of the vertebrae in the spine and puts them at a greater risk for slipping.

Spondylolisthesis Symptoms:

Many patients will experience no symptoms and may not even know they have spondylolisthesis. Low back pain is the most common symptom spreading across the lower back, resembling a muscle strain. Muscle spasms may also be present.

Spondylolisthesis can cause tightening of the hamstring muscle causing a person to walk with a shortened gait and slightly bent knees. If the nerves are affected the pain may spread down the leg and also cause numbness or tingling to occur.

Spondylolisthesis Treatment:

Spondylolisthesis is not life threatening, therefore, not everyone will require treatment for their spondylolisthesis. Treatment depends on several factors including age, the extent of the slip, severity of symptoms and the general health and well being of the person. If treatment is necessary, there are several options available.

Conservative Spondylolisthesis treatment:

  • Weight loss
  • Pain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Ibuprofen) or oral steroids
  • Epidural steroid injections in which medication is placed directly in the space surrounding the spine
  • Ice or heat

Physical Therapy for Spondylolisthesis:

  • Stabilization exercises to strengthen the abdominal and/or back muscles

Spondylolisthesis surgery:

  • Surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerves or spinal decompression surgery
  • Surgery to restore stability or spinal fusion surgery

What can be done to prevent spondylolisthesis?

It may not be possible to prevent the occurrence of spondylothesis, but there are steps one can take to aid in the prevention.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Perform exercises to strengthen, support and stabilize your low back.
  • Chose exercises and activities that are low on impact and do not place your low back at risk or injury. For example, swimming and biking are types of low impact exercise.

Experiencing Lower Back Pain?

Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas has been helping people with neck and back pain for over 30 years. Dr. Hunter and his team always start with non-surgical pain treatments like physical therapy, acupuncture, and steroid shots. If you find that your symptoms worsen or your activities are limited, then minimally invasive surgery or and other surgical treatments are an option.

Located in Gastonia, NC, The Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas serves the greater Charlotte area.

Contact Us Now

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