The Spine & Back Blog

Female with back pain speaking with neurosurgeonBack and neck pain affects thousands of people. Sometimes, the pain is acute; sometimes it chronic back and neck pain. People manage this type of pain in many different ways. Sometimes they rely on non-surgical treatments for back pain like medication--both prescription and over the counter or non pharmacological treatment for pain like heating and cold solutions or stretching. If back pain continues, however, it's important to have it investigated by a physician who specializes in back and neck issues. In fact, your primary care doctor is likely to refer you to a spine specialist if your back pain continues unabated. If you're coping with back pain that will not subside, it's important to visit a spine specialist for help.

Getting to the Root of Neck & Back Pain

Often, people can pinpoint when and why their back and neck pain began. They may have suffered a back muscle sprain or strain after performing yard work or moving furniture. This type of back injury may clear up on its own after a few days or, in some cases, a few weeks. When back pain persists, over-the-counter medications can often be used to treat the issue during the healing process.

Chronic neck and back pain is another type of problem altogether. Your physician may have told you that if your back or neck pain persists for more than 12 weeks, you likely need a different sort of treatment or medical intervention. In many cases, your physician will refer you to a spine specialist like a neurosurgeon who can diagnose the problem and prescribe a remedy.

Your neurosurgeon is likely to discuss the various causes for your back or neck pain such as:

There may be other causes that your spine specialist can point to depending on your specific circumstances.

How Can a Neurosurgeon Help?

A neurosurgeon will review x rays and other tests in order to help with diagnosing back pain. Non-surgical treatments, like physical therapy, acupuncture, traction, and massage, to provide back pain relief are always considered first. Your spine specialist might recommend weight loss or lifestyle changes to help you combat pain and address the root cause of your back pain. If a surgical procedure is indicated to treat your back pain, your neurosurgeon will discuss minimally invasive procedures, stem cell injections, and spine surgery with you.

Dr. William Hunter, back and spine specialist

If you are concerned about back or neck pain you've been experiencing, make an appointment with Dr. William Hunter, spine specialist and neurosurgeon at NSSC Spine Clinic. He has the experience and expertise needed to treat all types of back pain. The NSSC Spine Clinic has been serving Gastonia and the broader Charlotte, NC area including Belmont, Mount Holly, Gaston County, Meckleburg County, and portions of South Carolina for over 20 years.

Ready to Make An Appointment With A Spine Specialist?

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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?

  • Stretches for back pain: cat camel poses
    Cat-Camel Back Stretch
    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, neurosurgeon in Gastonia, NC, celebrates his 20 year anniversary at the Spine Clinic (source: freepik.com)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!

Notice of Privacy Practices

This notice describes how medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information. Please review it carefully.

If you have any questions about this Notice please contact the Privacy Officer at 704-864-5550

  • Privacy Practices - Effective Date: April 14, 2003
  • Recent Revision – July 21, 2017    

We are committed to protect the privacy of your personal health information (PHI).

This Notice of Privacy Practices (Notice) describes how we may use within our practice or network and disclose (share outside of our practice or network) your PHI to carry out treatment, payment or health care operations. We may also share your information for other purposes that are permitted or required by law. This Notice also describes your rights to access and control your PHI. 

We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your PHI.  We will follow the terms outlined in this Notice. 

We may change our Notice, at any time. Any changes will apply to all PHI. Upon your request, we will provide you with any revised Notice by:

  • Posting the new Notice in our office.
  • If requested, making copies of the new Notice available in our office or by mail.
  • Posting the revised Notice on our website: www.neurosciencecarolinas.com

Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information

We may use or disclose (share) your PHI to provide health care treatment for you. 

Your PHI may be used and disclosed by your physician, our office staff and others outside of our office that are involved in your care and treatment for the purpose of providing health care services to you. 

EXAMPLE: Your PHI may be provided to a physician to whom you have been referred for evaluation to ensure that the physician has the necessary information to diagnose or treat you. We may also share your PHI from time-to-time to another physician or health care provider (e.g., a specialist or laboratory) who, at the request of your physician, becomes involved in your care by providing assistance with your health care diagnosis or treatment to your physician. 

We may also share your PHI with people outside of our practice that may provide medical care for you such as home health agencies.

We may use and disclose your PHI to obtain payment for services.  We may provide your PHI to others in order to bill or collect payment for services. There may be services for which we share information with your health plan to determine if the service will be paid for.

PHI may be shared with the following:

  • Billing companies
  • Insurance companies, health plans
  • Government agencies in order to assist with qualification of benefits
  • Collection agencies

EXAMPLE: You are seen at our practice for a procedure. We will need to provide a listing of services such as x-rays to your insurance company so that we can get paid for the procedure. We may at times contact your health care plan to receive approval PRIOR to performing certain procedures to ensure the services will be paid for. This will require sharing of your PHI. 

We may use or disclose, as-needed, your PHI in order to support the business activities of this practice which are called health care operations. 

EXAMPLES:

Training students, other health care providers, or ancillary staff such as billing personnel to help them learn or improve their skills.
Quality improvement processes which look at delivery of health care and for improvement in processes which will provide safer, more effective care for you.
Use of information to assist in resolving problems or complaints within the practice.

We may use and disclosure your PHI in other situations without your permission:

  • If required by law: The use or disclosure will be made in compliance with the law and will be limited to the relevant requirements of the law. For example, we may be required to report gunshot wounds or suspected abuse or neglect.
  • Public health activities: The disclosure will be made for the purpose of controlling disease, injury or disability and only to public health authorities permitted by law to collect or receive information. We may also notify individuals who may have been exposed to a disease or may be at risk of contracting or spreading a disease or condition.
  • Health oversight agencies: We may disclose protected health information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as audits, investigations, and inspections. Oversight agencies seeking this information include government agencies that oversee the health care system, government benefit programs, other government regulatory programs and civil rights laws. 
  • Legal proceedings: To assist in any legal proceeding or in response to a court order, in certain conditions in response to a subpoena, or other lawful process.
  • Police or other law enforcement purposes: The release of PHI will meet all applicable legal requirements for release.
  • Coroners, funeral directors: We may disclose protected health information to a coroner or medical examiner for identification purposes, determining cause of death or for the coroner or medical examiner to perform other duties authorized by law
  • Medical research: We may disclose your protected health information to researchers when their research has been approved by an institutional review board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to ensure the privacy of your protected health information.
  • Special government purposes: Information may be shared for national security purposes, or if you are a member of the military, to the military under limited circumstances.
  • Correctional institutions: Information may be shared if you are an inmate or under custody of law which is necessary for your health or the health and safety of other individuals.
  • Workers’ Compensation: Your protected health information may be disclosed by us as authorized to comply with workers’ compensation laws and other similar legally-established programs. 

Other uses and disclosures of your health information:

  • Business Associates: Some services are provided through the use of contracted entities called “business associates”. We will always release only the minimum amount of PHI necessary so that the business associate can perform the identified services. We require the business associate(s) to appropriately safeguard your information. Examples of business associates include billing companies or transcription services.
  • Health Information Exchange: We may make your health information available electronically to other healthcare providers outside of our facility who are involved in your care. 
  • Fundraising activities: We may contact you in an effort to raise money. You may opt out of receiving such communications.
  • Treatment alternatives: We may provide you notice of treatment options or other health related services that may improve your overall health.
  • Appointment reminders: We may contact you as a reminder about upcoming appointments or treatment. 

We may use or disclose your PHI in the following situations UNLESS you object.

  • We may share your information with friends or family members, or other persons directly identified by you at the level they are involved in your care or payment of services. If you are not present or able to agree/object, the healthcare provider using professional judgment will determine if it is in your best interest to share the information. For example, we may discuss post procedure instructions with the person who drove you to the facility unless you tell us specifically not to share the information.
  • We may use or disclose protected health information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative or any other person that is responsible for your care of your location, general condition or death.
  • We may use or disclose your protected health information to an authorized public or private entity to assist in disaster relief efforts. 

The following uses and disclosures of PHI require your written authorization:

  • Marketing
  • Disclosures of for any purposes which require the sale of your information
  • Release of psychotherapy notes: Psychotherapy notes are notes by a mental health professional for the purpose of documenting a conversation during a private session. This session could be with an individual or with a group. These notes are kept separate from the rest of the medical record and do not include: medications and how they affect you, start and stop time of counseling sessions, types of treatments provided, results of tests, diagnosis, treatment plan, symptoms, prognosis.

All other uses and disclosures not recorded in this Notice will require a written authorization from you or your personal representative.

Written authorization simply explains how you want your information used and disclosed. Your written authorization may be revoked at any time, in writing. Except to the extent that your doctor or this practice has used or released information based on the direction provided in the authorization, no further use or disclosure will occur.

Your Privacy Rights 

You have certain rights related to your protected health information. All requests to exercise your rights must be made in writing. You can make a request to our medical records department.  Medical records can be reached at 704-864-5550.

You have the right to see and obtain a copy of your protected health information. 

This means you may inspect and obtain a copy of protected health information about you that is contained in a designated record set for as long as we maintain the protected health information. If requested we will provide you a copy of your records in an electronic format. There are some exceptions to records which may be copied and the request may be denied. We may charge you a reasonable cost based fee for a copy of the records.   

You have the right to request a restriction of your protected health information. 

You may request for this practice not to use or disclose any part of your protected health information for the purposes of treatment, payment or healthcare operations. We are not required to agree with these requests. If we agree to a restriction request we will honor the restriction request unless the information is needed to provide emergency treatment.

There is one exception: we must accept a restriction request to restrict disclosure of information to a health plan if you pay out of pocket in full for a service or product unless it is otherwise required by law.

You have the right to request for us to communicate in different ways or in different locations. 

We will agree to reasonable requests. We may also request alternative address or other method of contact such as mailing information to a post office box. We will not ask for an explanation from you about the request.

You may have the right to request an amendment of your health information. 

You may request an amendment of your health information if you feel that the information is not correct along with an explanation of the reason for the request. In certain cases, we may deny your request for an amendment at which time you will have an opportunity to disagree.

You have the right to a list of people or organizations who have received your health information from us. 

This right applies to disclosures for purposes other than treatment, payment or healthcare operations. You have the right to obtain a listing of these disclosures that occurred after April 14, 2003. You may request them for the previous six years or a shorter timeframe. If you request more than one list within a 12 month period you may be charged a reasonable fee. 

Additional Privacy Rights

  • You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this notice from us, upon request.
  • We will provide you a copy of this Notice the first day we treat you at our facility. In an emergency situation we will give you this Notice as soon as possible.
  • You have a right to receive notification of any breach of your protected health information.

Complaints 

If you think we have violated your rights or you have a complaint about our privacy practices you can contact:

The Spine Clinic at Neuroscience & Spine Center of the Carolinas, LLP Privacy Officer at 704-864-5550.

You may also complain to the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services if you believe your privacy rights have been violated by us.

If you file a complaint we will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint. 

This notice was published and became effective on April 13, 2003 and was most recently revised on July 21, 2017.