Common signs of a tear in your spinal disc
The spine is one of the most important components in the human body as it allows you to bend, twist, extend, and more. However, due to the many functions of the spine, it is susceptible to injury. One of the common sources of back pain is developing a tear in one of the spinal discs. These tears may go unnoticed at first, but if they are left untreated, they can lead to a variety of other spine issues.
What is a Spinal Disc Tear?
Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae, the sacrum, and the coccyx. Each of the 24 vertebrae is separated from the one above it and below it by an intervertebral disc. These discs are composed of two separate components: the nucleus pulposus and the annulus fibrosis.
Risk of infection from invasive spinal surgeries
Spinal fusion and disc replacement surgeries are two common methods used to address back pain and intervertebral disc issues. Both of these procedures are highly invasive, and they do not always carry the highest success rates compared to other, more minimally-invasive treatment options. In addition, they are associated with high risk for a number of different health complications, including infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, sepsis, and more.
Spinal Fusion and Disc Replacement Surgery
Spinal fusions are an invasive spinal surgery that involves physically fusing two or more of the vertebrae in the spine. These procedures require the back to be cut open so that metal rods and other components can be inserted into the spine itself.READ MORE
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
Did you know your body has an amazing ability to heal itself? Historically patients were told they would need certain invasive surgery to heal particular injuries, but today we know that many times these same injuries can be healed with growth factors that come directly from your own body. Regenerative medicine takes advantage of our natural ability to heal ourselves by using healthy regenerative cells found throughout the body.
One example is PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) therapy. This is a treatment that aids in the body’s natural ability to heal its’ injuries and amplify the natural growth factors your body uses to heal soft tissue injuries.
When you injure a tendon or ligament, the connective fibers and tissues can be stretched and torn. Historically, patients with tissue…READ MORE
Does Race Have an Effect on the Health of Your Spine?
Everywhere in the world, back pain affects a large number of people, and the root of spinal damage can occur due to a wide range of reasons. Back pain can be a result of osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, and much more.
However, one question that has been brought up many times is whether a person’s race has any effect on their spine health. We have looked at a few different factors to determine if there are any differences among African American spine health, Asian spine health, Caucasian spine health, and Hispanic spine health.
What Have Studies Shown?
There is lot of disagreement when it comes to the effect that race has on spinal…READ MORE
What are the long term effects of crash dieting on your bones and spine?
People all over the world battle with their weight, and everyone is always looking for a new way to get rid of a little extra fat or shed a few pounds. Crash dieting is a new fad that gains more popularity year after year. People look at these diets as a quick way to lose weight, whether it be before a special event, a holiday, as a New Year’s resolution, or for another purpose.
Although these diets can help you lose a bit of weight in a short period of time, they can actually end up doing more harm than good to your body in the long run. Crash diets force your body into starvation mode, and the way your body responds can actually result in increased weight gain after the fact and cause bone and muscle damage, degenerative disc disease, chronic…READ MORE
Baby Carriers and Their Effect on the Back
Baby carriers provide a great way for moms and dads alike to keep their baby close to them while leaving their hands free to do other things. It has been shown that keeping your baby close to you is good for the baby’s development, but using a carrier isn’t always the best for your back.
Using a baby carrier is all but necessary, but the type of carrier you use is an important talking point, especially when it comes to back pain. There are a variety of different baby carriers available, and each one can affect your back differently. It is important to choose the proper model to prevent back and spine issues like chronic pain or degenerative disc disease.
The Types of Baby Carriers Available
Important Tips for Long Distance & Long Haul Drivers
Sitting in one position for long periods of time brings its challenges when trying to stay comfortable. The Harvard Health Watch study said that the average American spends 101 minutes driving per day in compared to a long haul drivers who often drive more than 540 minutes per day . All those hours sitting can have an adverse effect on your back and neck, but what are some things we could be doing to help keep our bodies in motion during those long drives?
Before you get started:
- Remove all items from pockets
- Roll up a towel and place it behind your lower back for additional support
- Adjust the seat and mirror to your preferences, this is extremely important
- Keep hydrated so bring a water bottle
Safe Guarding Your Children from Risky Activities
Back pain and injuries are generally regarded as issues that only adults face, even more commonly as they grow older. However, children can be at risk for developing certain issues that cause damage to the spine or be the root of long-term complications that may worsen later in life. Some of the biggest issues posed to children can come about from overuse, extreme sports, or activities with heavy impacts on the spine. There are a number of activities that can increase the risk of these injuries occurring, and they should be avoided when possible to help ensure the health of your child’s spine.
Avoid Carrying Heavy Backpacks
The most commonly overlooked activities that can cause back pain in children is carrying a backpack that is too heavy. This is especially…READ MORE
Nutrition and Supplements that Promote Spine Health
A balanced diet combined with exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle. However, it is less known that these same factors can have a large impact on the health of your spine. The spine has to support the entire upper torso, be able to twist, bend, and perform other motions. Like the rest of your body, the spine needs the proper nutrients to maintain a healthy spine.
How Supplements, Vitamins, and Minerals Can Improve Spine Health
In addition to a healthy all-around diet, there are a number of vitamins and minerals that are critical for a healthy spine by ensuring that the bones, muscles, discs, and other tissues all receive the nutrients that they need to function well.
Calcium is critical for spinal health as it is a major contributor…
Corrective Treatment of Spine Damage Versus Pain Management for the Lower Back
Finding relief for lower back pain is often a top priority, and there are many options that can be pursued. The most common of these treatment options are surgery and prescription pain medications. Corrective surgery often carries a higher upfront cost, but the benefits of choosing this option over long-term prescription use can significantly improve quality of life and extend a sufferes lifespan. Prescription drugs offer a lower but continual expense to the sufferer with only short term relief.
The Dangers of Prolonged Prescription Drug Use
A recent study noted that more than half of back pain patients are prescribed medications from their doctor. While providing some short-term relief, the downsides to using pharmaceuticals as a long-term solution…READ MORE
Why so many Degenerative Disc Disease and chronic back pain suffers have become addicted to pharmaceuticals as a form of treatment.
Lower back pain affects nearly 80 percent of adults at some point during their lives, and it can vary drastically in its severity and cause. Degenerative disc disease and chronic back pain are two major issues that affect many individuals, and these injuries are often associated with a high degree of pain. Because of this, many of those affected use some sort of prescription medication to alleviate the associated discomfort.
Managing Pain with Pharmaceuticals
Degenerative disc disease and chronic pain result from issues in the spine. When discs wear down, it can cause the vertebrae in the back to compress and lose height. This often leads to annulus tears and leaking of the inner gel in the disc, which in turn leads to chronic, long-term pain.…
Does an Individual's Gender Affect Their Overall Spine Health?
Back pain affects both men and women. These back pain issues can be caused by muscle strains, disc compression or herniation, etc. Is it possible that gender can play a role in your spinal health? Despite the spine being the same regardless of gender, spinal health can vary significantly between genders in many different ways.
How Gender Affects Spinal Health
Susceptibility to back pain differs between genders in regards to which injuries are most common and how the body is able to respond to and heal from them. Some of these differences can be linked to varying hormone levels, difference in hip and pelvic structure, and the effect of 9 months pregnancy has on the spine.
Not only are certain conditions more commonly seen in different…
What is the Risk of Powerlifting on the Spine
Weightlifting and powerlifting are great ways to build up strength in the body and increase overall health. However, some muscle-building exercises can have a negative impact on joints and the spine. While several powerlifting exercises can be harmful with improper form, others can result in back issues even with proper form. Let’s review some of these exercises that can lead to back pain and spinal damage.
Exercises and Good Form
Squats are a fundamental exercise for bodybuilders and weightlifters alike. This exercise can be harmful to the back as the weight from the bar is applied directly to the spine. Squats do cause disc compression, but the discs in the spine are designed to deal with this force, and in most cases return to their natural height shortly…READ MORE
Spinal Fusions Worsen Opioid Epidemic
Because it’s know that spinal fusions cause irreversible damage to good discs adjacent to fusions1,2, it makes sense that spinal fusions are big contributors to the opioid epidemic. The relationship between taking opioids and spine surgery is becoming more important as fusion volumes continue rising and opioid use continues to rise.3
A respected orthopedic journal, (The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery), reported that 84% of patients who undergo even simple…
Fusion Surgery Often Worsens Spines
Efforts to stop spine fusions where not indicated in states and countries are succeeding, and for good reason. A Washing Post article reviewed 125,000 fusion patient records, while reporting on the recent 600% rise of spinal fusions. Experts and professional societies noted that over half of these patients should not have been treated with spinal fusions. What motivates those fusions?…READ MORE
Spine Epidural Corticosteroid Injections Lack FDA Approval
Did you know Spine Epidural Corticosteroid Injections Lack FDA approval? Many doctors and patients don’t recognize spine epidural injections lack FDA approval. These frequent injections are done in spite of research that shows they may cause long term harm to the patients. Not only are epidural injections not FDA approved, they are covered by insurance. This fact leaves many scratching their heads. Why is it that many insurance providers continue to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year for epidural injections even though they don’t provide a solution to the problem? Ironically, many vials of corticosteroids have warning labels on them in bold letters communicating against its use for epidurals, yet they continue to be used. Why…READ MORE
Should You Be Concerned About Your Neck Symptoms?
Many patients that suffer from cervical disc pain, the portion of the spine located in the neck, may be experiencing symptoms that seem unrelated to neck pain, however, these symptoms may be a direct result of cervical disc herniation. Pain and symptoms from cervical disc herniations and tears can develop slowly over time and suddenly appear. The type of symptoms can vary from a dull, nagging pain, to pain that is quite debilitating.
Patients will often say “I have a crick in my neck”. This can be mild and only a little uncomfortable and stiff, or may grow to be sharp, stabbing pain. If moving your neck causes pain, but keeping it still causes the pain the go away, then there is a chance that…READ MORE
Avoid Bending and Twisting
Did you know that every day activities involving bending forward and twisting may cause back pain? Bending forward (flexion) and twisting (rotation) are shear and compressive forces on the disc that lead to torn, herniated discs causing low back and leg pain. These movements done repetitively cause wear and tear on the discs, which lead towards tears and herniations. Once the disc tears, its inner jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus, leaks through those tears, causing chemical inflammation of the spinal nerves leading to back and leg pain (Sciatica) In order to have proper body mechanics one must avoid bending and twisting as a whole, and instead, utilize their legs to bend at the knees to squat down versus bending at the waist. This…READ MORE
Yoga and What the Spine Experts Say
Spine experts Kevin Pauza, MD and Richard Deyo, MD recently weighed in on an often asked question, “Is yoga good for my back pain?”. In a recent Consumer Reports article, Richard Deyo, MD, Professor of Evidence-Based Family Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, and author of the guidelines released by the American College of Physicians (ACP), recommended non-drug remedies, including yoga first, for patients struggling with back pain.
Kevin Pauza, MD, Founding Partner of Texas Spine and Joint Hospital and Manhattan Spine and Joint Institute, said he directs his patients towards facts when…READ MORE
The Domino Effect - Facts Reported After Spine Fusion
The Domino Effect - Facts Reported After Spine Fusion
Whether you believe in a creator or evolution, your spine’s design is perfect for moving and bending. Unfortunately, spine fusions unnaturally connect spaces meant to move freely using metal rods, screws, or cages. Because fusions permanently immobilize spines, they eventually damage discs above and below fusions by overloading them with mechanical forces1. Thus, fusions accelerate degeneration of adjacent discs, causing the damaging domino effect 2.
Research demonstrates the domino effect is caused by cervical and lumbar spine fusions and may cause patients to need additional spine surgery3,4,5, and unfortunately, repeat surgery increases the domino effect even…READ MORE
Spine Fusions Stopped in North Carolina
Spine Surgeons voiced fear nationwide that one of their highest paid spine procedures, spine fusions, attempting to treat degenerative disc pain, won’t be paid for by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Because spine surgery lobbyists have no evidence to justify fusions, they are now being denied. Poor outcomes are causing fusions to fall under scrutiny worldwide. (Reference) Many scientific articles, including the New England Journal of Medicine, and a European Spine treatment Guideline referenced an article stating: “The tide of scientific evidence seems to go against the spinal fusions in degenerative disc…READ MORE
Discography May Accelerate Disc Degeneration
It’s no secret that low back pain is a leading cause of “unwanted” lost work days. Low back pain is not a disease, but instead may be caused by several problems, the most common being degenerative discs.1 Degenerative discs may also lead to facet joint arthritis pain and “sciatica” nerve pain.
To help pinpoint pain sources, discography was historically offered because MRIs couldn’t reliably identify pain. Discography was used to plan spine surgery, however today spine fusions themselves are being questioned because of long-term fusion concerns.READ MORE
Why ‘Useless’’ Surgery is Still Popular
A New York Times article stated “Spine fusion surgery is no better than alternative non-surgical treatments.” Unlike most operations, spinal fusion, was tested in four clinical trials. The conclusion was that “surgery was no better than alternative nonsurgical treatments, like supervised exercise and therapy to help patients deal with their fear of back pain”. The studies were completed by the early 2000s and should have been enough to greatly limit or stop spinal fusions, according to Dr. Richard Deyo, professor of evidence-based medicine at the Oregon Health and Sciences University. But…READ MORE
How Backpacks Affect the Adolescent Spine
Back pain that begins at a young age is considered to be a precursor to adult chronic low back pain. Over 90% of children in the United States carry backpacks, therefore, it is imperative, that they are instructed on proper backpack use, as carrying backpacks incorrectly at a young age could lead to long term back pain issues. More than 60% of adolescents ages six to nineteen, reported back pain associated with backpack use according to a clinical study printed in The Spine Journal Volume 16 (2016)1. This particular…READ MORE
Landmark New England Journal of Medicine Study: “Spinal Fusion Surgery - The Case For Restraint”
Spinal fusion rates continue to increase dramatically in the United States. Oddly enough, this landmark study shows the rise is related financial incentives and other variables not associated with the patient's well being. This respected journal states that the annual number of spinal fusions rose by 77% within 5 years. This is confirmed in this publication: NEJM Spinal- Fusion Surgery-The Case for Restraint
Why do you think so many unnecessary spinal fusions are happening?
Written By: Carrie Aurelius
Resolution of Lumbar Disk Herniation without Surgery
Everyday we see patients with disc bulges like the patient below who were told to have steroid injections, physical therapy but eventually they are pointed to surgery. This landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine proves many discs improve on their own without surgery. What motivates doctor's and PA's to not share this type of information with patients allowing truly informed consent? As you can see below, her herniation healed on its own without surgery, likely through time. True indication for surgery is incontinence and/ or rapidly progressing paralysis of the extremities over a short time. If you have been told you need surgery for a disc herniation, let this study encourage you that time may on your side.
9 Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Spine
Lifestyle choices play an important role in the health of your spine. When we are young, the bones in our spine are strong, our muscles are limber and our discs are at a healthy height, allowing us to move effortlessly. Participation in athletic activities coupled with poor body mechanics can mark the beginning of disc damage because excessive flexion and rotation of the spine can lead to annular tears in our discs. In our adult years, life gets busy with careers, families and hobbies, and it becomes easier to make poor lifestyle choices that unknowingly put extra force on our spine, leading to torn discs, which…READ MORE
Why Tiger Wood’s Back Surgery was ‘Par for the Course’
Recently, Tiger Woods spoke with Robby Kalland of CBS Sports about his recovery after back surgery. “Health-wise, I continue to improve. Still no timetable on my return, but I’m excited to get back out there with the guys."1
I work alongside Kevin Pauza, M.D., a spine specialist who focuses on treating patients who have had prior failed spine surgery. I recently spoke about Tiger Woods with Dr Pauza. “I wish Woods a full recovery, but unless he changes course, there’s little reason to feel optimistic about his recovery.” His thoughts are based…READ MORE
Is a Leaky Disc Causing Your Lower Back Pain?
A leading culprit of low back pain is commonly undiagnosed by many physicians.
If you suffer from chronic low back pain, you have likely run the gamut of searching for solutions only to be left with more questions and mounting frustrations. A major obstacle to successfully diagnosing and treating low back pain is not understanding that a leaky disc is often the source of your pain. Many patients are diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease, however it isn't a actually a disease—it's a name given to discs that have degenerated over time from normal wear and tear, causing them to steadily leak and become dark and flat.READ MORE