Exercise to Alleviate Pain

Exercise to Alleviate Pain

If you are living with chronic back and spinal pain, that last thing you’ll probably want to do is exercise. Many people feel that exercise can worsen their pain or injury, or that it may prevent healing. What many chronic pain sufferers don’t realize is that some exercise can actually help reduce certain kinds of back, neck and spinal pain with cardiovascular, flexibility, and strengthening exercise.

Walking for healthy muscles

Walking can be very beneficial for people who are suffering from pain, if they are able to do so. Walking is a simple, light aerobic exercise that almost anyone can do, as it is low-impact and can be done just about anywhere. Walking helps the body to supply more oxygen to the muscles, build stamina, and reduce pain and stiffness. Try walking around a shopping mall, your neighborhood, a park, a local track, or the beach.

Swimming to ease joint pain

One of the best low-impact exercises that’s easy on your joints is swimming. The “low-gravity” effect of water prevents any sudden jolts or pressure from being put on the joints. Your movements and reactions are forced to slow down, helping you to strengthen the muscles around your joints without sustaining any additional injuries. Look for a community or gym pool if you don’t have one at home.

Yoga for increased flexibility and posture

Yoga is perfect for targeting certain muscle groups, as well as adjusting the intensity to your comfort level. Yoga helps to build endurance, increase flexibility and improve posture, poor sleeping habits, and concentration. If you are bedridden, start small with breathing and meditation, concentrating on specific areas of the body.

Stretching for improved mobility

Simple stretching can help to reduce a wide variety of pain problems. Stretching can promote better circulation and blood flow to the muscles for improved functionality. It also helps to loosen tight, stiff muscles while improving your muscles’ range of motion. Like walking, stretching can be done almost anywhere.

For more information on what you can do to ease your back and spinal pain through exercise, stop by the office and ask for a free booklet on any of these:

  • Neck Exercises for a Healthy Neck
  • Back Exercises for a Healthy Back
  • Walking for Fitness

Or, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule an appointment.

How Weight Affects Back Pain

How Weight Affects Back Pain

Severe back pain is one of the many complications that can result from excess weight and obesity. People who carry around excess weight are often at a greater risk for back pain, joint pain and muscle strain, compared to those who aren’t overweight. According to the American Obesity Association, musculoskeletal pain, specifically in the back, is common among close to one third of obese Americans.

How being overweight contributes to back pain

Some of the most common weight-related issues include musculoskeletal and joint pain. With each pound adds strain, and many extra pounds can add up to significant strain to the muscles and ligaments in the back. To compensate for the added weight, the spine can tilt abnormally and place additional, uneven stress on the back. Over time, this can lead to the deterioration of proper back support and an abnormal spinal curvature. In addition, excess fat surrounding the waist forces the pelvis to push forward, straining the lower back and leading to more pain.

Conditions caused or aggravated by obesity

Excess weight can aggravate — or cause — certain painful conditions, including:

  • Sciatica (pain that radiates down the legs from the lower back)
  • Herniated discs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Arthritis of the spine

In addition, the effectiveness of back surgery is complicated by excess weight. These patients are also at an increased risk for complications and infections following surgery.

Losing weight to reduce back pain

With low-impact exercise and a healthy diet, you can lose the weight that could be contributing to your back pain. Exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga are easy on your joints and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Also be sure to consume a nutrient-dense diet consisting of lean meats, fresh produce, and plenty of water.

If back pain is affecting your daily life, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule an appointment.

Surprising Reasons You’re in Pain

Surprising Reasons You’re in Pain

Are you suffering from back pain and aren’t really sure why? There’s actually a long list of potential reasons you’re in pain, and it may surprise you. Back pain can prevent you from doing the things you love, but you can also prevent it. Here are a few surprising possible reasons for your pain.

Smoking

Many smokers don’t realize it, but smoking can have significant effects on your back. Studies have revealed that smokers have a decreased blood supply to the discs in the back. This leads  to premature aging of the discs, which can lead to pain in the lower back. Another study has shown that smoking can affect the brain’s response to back pain, making it feel worse.

Stress

Stress can cause the muscles in your back to constrict and cause the discs to bulge, which often leads to pain. This can lower your pain tolerance and stiffen your back. Try to manage your stress with deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.

Poor diet

Not only can a poor diet cause weight gain and place extra pressure on your back, but consuming high levels of processed sugars can make your pain worse. They can spike inflammation in the body and cause more pain.

Sitting

Sitting for long periods of time can put extra pressure on the discs in your back, due to compromised blood supply to the discs. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, consider using a standing desk to alleviate some pressure on the back, or take breaks every hour to stretch and walk.

Your mattress

It may be that your mattress isn’t firm enough, or it’s simply too old and no longer supporting your back and body as it should. Be sure your mattress is in fairly good shape, and replace it every seven years.

Lack of exercise

Being too sedentary can lead to weight gain and back pain. Exercise can help build muscle tone to give your back the support it needs to keep your muscles and ligaments in place. Keeping your back tight and strong with exercise will help you avoid back pain.

If you’re suffering from back pain, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule your first consultation.

The Effects of Heavy Lifting on Your Back

The Effects of Heavy Lifting on Your Back

Many people are confident that they know how to properly lift and maneuver heavy objects. Truth is, many people don’t know how to properly lift something heavy. They also aren’t aware of the effects that improper lifting can have on their back. There are three significant back injuries that can be caused by improper heavy lifting:

Muscle injury

Not being in the right position while lifting can place extra stress on the lower back muscles, and when added pressure is placed on a muscle, injury will often occur. This stress can cause tiny tears to form in the muscle, leading to pain and making it difficult to move the affected and surrounding tissues.

Joint injury

The back contains many joints along the spinal column. These joints can be quite resilient when handling the stress of lifting that is done properly. However, improper lifting techniques, even with lightweight objects, can irritate these joints and result in injured joints.

Disc injury

The intervertebral discs are a cushion between the vertebrae (bones). These fibrous discs can bulge or rupture when injured. This type of injury in the lower back can cause pain that can radiate through the buttocks and the legs.

Tips for proper lifting

To prevent injury when lifting heavy items, try to follow these important tips:

  • Keep the chest forward – To lift properly, be sure to keep your chest pushed out to properly bend at the hips and knees. This will guarantee a straight back to prevent injury.
  • Lead with the hips – When changing positions, be sure to move the hips first, and the shoulders will follow in unison. This prevents potentially harmful twisting.
  • Keep object close to the body – The further an object is from a person’s center of gravity, the more force that is required to lift the object. Keeping the object as close to you as possible will help to lift the item without injury.

For more information on caring for your lower back, stop by our office to pick up your free copy of “The Back Owner’s Manual.” If you’ve suffered an injury from heavy lifting, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule your next appointment.

Back Pain Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Back Pain Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Experiencing back pain is quite common, so much that many have grown accustomed to living in pain with no relief. In fact, eight out of 10 people will experience back pain at least once throughout their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Back pain can come on quickly in sharp, stabbing pains, or it can come on as a gradual, dull ache that lasts for years. Regardless of how your pain begins, it’s important to pay attention to certain pain symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore.

Common symptoms of back pain

In some cases, back pain isn’t serious and will go away within a couple weeks’ time. Common symptoms of back pain may include:

  • Stiff or sore feelings along the spine, from the neck to the tailbone
  • Sudden, localized pain in the neck or back that often occurs after heavy lifting or laborious activity
  • Persistent ache in the mid to low back after prolonged standing or sitting
  • Difficulty standing without pain or muscle spasms in the back

When to see a doctor

Other types of back pain are serious and should be evaluated and treated by a doctor. It’s important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain doesn’t subside after a few days of rest, ice, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in the groin, arms or legs; which can be a sign of spinal cord damage (seek immediate medical assistance)
  • Radiating back pain that extends down the buttock to the back of the leg and into toes, which is a sign of sciatica
  • Pain is exacerbated by coughing or bending over forward at the waist, which is sign of a herniated disc
  • Pain involves a fever, burning while urinating, or frequent and/or urgent urination, which can be a sign of an infection
  • Difficulty with bowel or bladder control (seek immediate medical assistance)
  • Pain in an area of a previous injury of surgery
  • Relentless pain or pain that worsens over time
  • Pain associated with bruising or pressure
  • Pain is involved with excessive swelling or a deformity
  • Decreased range of motion

Back pain can manifest itself in many forms. But the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho offer advanced diagnostics and state-of-the-art techniques to effectively treat your pain. It’s time you stop living with pain. Call (208) 944-0056 to schedule an appointment today.

Eliminate Back Pain

Eliminate Back Pain

Chronic back pain is a common condition that affects millions of Americans every year. If you’re plagued with chronic back pain, you understand the debilitating effects it can have on your life and well-being. But back pain is not something you have to live with forever. There are many treatments available to relieve your pain and get you back to the life you once knew.

What causes and risk factors are associated with back pain?

Back pain will often develop without a clear cause, and will require further tests performed by your physician to locate the source of your pain. Common conditions that can contribute to severe and persistent pain include:

  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Skeletal irregularities
  • Ruptured or bulging disks
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

In addition, risk factors that can make you more susceptible to back pain are:

  • Age
  • Weight gain
  • Smoking
  • Health and psychological conditions
  • Lack of exercise
  • Improper lifting

Eliminating back pain

Treating your back pain will depend on the cause and severity of your condition. Some of these treatments may be used simultaneously for effective treatment and optimal lasting results.

Medications

Medications are usually the first course of treatment to relieve your back pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants and topical pain relievers are among the medications that may be utilized.

Injections

Injections can help detect the source of your pain, as well as provide temporary relief. Injections usually consist of a local anesthetic and/or steroid solution.

Physical therapy and massage

Conservative treatment, like physical therapy and massage, can eliminate or lessen pain without requiring surgery. These treatments will help to strengthen and recondition the muscles to allow your body to move more easily without pain.

Surgery

Surgery is typically only used when all other treatment methods have been explored without successful relief. Your surgical treatment will depend on your condition and its severity.

Chiropractic referral

In some cases, you may benefit from chiropractic techniques to treat your back pain. In this case, an experienced chiropractor will be referred to you.

If you are interested in treating your chronic back pain, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule your first appointment.

Back Pain Treatment: What Are Your Options?

Back Pain Treatment: What Are Your Options?

Back pain is one of the most common pain conditions among Americans, affecting millions of people every year. Back pain can prevent you from participating in activities you love and even make it difficult to complete your normal daily routine.

What causes back pain?

Back pain can occur suddenly and be brought on by a variety of factors, sometimes even without a specific cause. The most common form is acute back pain, which lasts under six weeks. The lesser common form is chronic back pain, which lasts more than three months. Back pain can be brought on by a few conditions, including:

  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Bulging or ruptured disks
  • Skeletal abnormalities
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

Back pain can be felt in different ways. You may experience muscle aches, sharp shooting pain, radiating pain, or limited flexibility or range of motion.

How is back pain diagnosed?

An accurate diagnosis is crucial to developing a successful treatment plan. Diagnostic tests and techniques that may be used to identify the source of your pain may include:

  • Magnetic resonance image (MRI)
  • Nerve blocks and epidural injections
  • Computerized tomography (CT)
  • Bone density scan
  • Dynamic X-ray
  • Myelography
  • Discograms

What are the most common forms of treatment?

Your diagnosis will help your doctor to determine which pain treatment method will be best for your condition. The spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho will explore noninvasive or minimally invasive treatment techniques before suggesting more advanced surgical options. Some treatment options may include:

Physical therapy or massage

Physical therapy or massage can help to build and recondition the muscles and tendons at the pain source, allowing you to move more freely with less pain. Physical therapy may include applying heat or cold, or performing certain exercises.

Medications

Sometimes, certain medications may help to ease back pain. After a thorough exam and diagnosis, your doctor may recommend pain medications for relief.

Injections

Injections to help relieve pain may be the right treatment option for you. Injections contain a local anesthetic and/or steroid to help temporarily treat and/or locate the source of the pain.

Surgery

Surgery is typically the last treatment option explored. Surgery is sometimes necessary to permanently treat your back pain at its source. There are many surgical treatments available, which will depend on your specific condition.

If you’re tired of suffering from back pain, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 844-0056 to schedule a consultation.

What to Expect at Your Consultation

What to Expect at Your Consultation

When seeking relief from your chronic back and neck pain, there are many factors to consider. Treating chronic pain requires an individualized approach to find lasting relief, and will depend on the source and location of your pain, and the severity of your symptoms. If you have been suffering from chronic back and neck pain that affects your quality of life, it’s time you schedule a consultation with our spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho.

If you haven’t been to our offices before, or haven’t been in for more than three years, you are considered a new patient and must inform our staff about any changes in your name, address, telephone numbers, or insurance changes that have occurred during that time. In addition, you will need to fill out all necessary paperwork prior to coming to the office for your scheduled appointment. You will have the choice of downloading the paperwork, or the office will send it to you. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time for registration.

What to bring

There are a few important items you should bring with you to your consultation appointment, including:

  • Insurance card(s)
  • Written referral (if required by insurance), or sent by your primary care physician
  • Patient forms you may have downloaded and completed at home
  • A list of current allergies and all medications
  • Co-payment, if necessary

During your consultation

Your comfort and care are our top priorities throughout your experience, starting with your first consultation. At your first consultation we will:

  • Perform a thorough physical examination
  • Evaluate the medical history of your current spine problem
  • Review any previous treatments you’ve had in the past
  • Consider other medical conditions that may need review

After these steps have been taken, advanced diagnostic tests may be ordered to accurately assess the source of your back and neck pain and determine the right treatment plan for you. Some diagnostic tests include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI)
  • Myelography
  • Nerve Blocks
  • Epidural Injection
  • Computerized Tomography (CT)
  • Bone Density Scan
  • Discograms
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Dynamic X-ray

Stop suffering from chronic back and neck pain. Call Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to see how our spine specialists can help relieve your pain and get you back on track.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy and Massage

Back pain can impact many aspects of your life, making everyday activities difficult to manage. People experience both physical and emotional symptoms when living with back pain. Emotionally you may feel anger, depression, anxiety or a loss of desire to do things you previously enjoyed. Physically, back pain can cause you to tire easily. You may have difficulty concentrating or completing common tasks.

The caring team at Spine Surgery of Idaho understands the emotional and physical toll caused by back pain. We provide a comprehensive treatment approach  customized to your specific needs. We focus on finding noninvasive or minimally invasive solutions to relieve your pain. Physical therapy and massage are treatment options that can provide many benefits when incorporated into an overall plan of care.

Physical therapy is often prescribed when back pain makes moving difficult. The goal of physical therapy is to restore function, flexibility, strength, balance, endurance and coordination, and to decrease pain: to get you back to your normal level of activity. Physical therapy techniques may include the application of cold or heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, stretching and the introduction of a specialized exercise program.

Massage therapy is also used to manage back pain that is limiting your ability to perform daily activities. Massage is a treatment done with the hands or a vibrating instrument to help relax muscles, relieve pain and increase flexibility and movement. Massage involves the rubbing, pressing and general manipulation of the muscle or soft tissue. There are many different types of massage (Swedish, deep tissue, sports) and the correct massage for you will depend on your specific back care needs.

Physical therapy and massage are noninvasive techniques that can provide excellent results with minimal downtime. Benefits may include:

  • Relaxation
  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Increased flexibility and function
  • Symptom relief
  • Cost-effective treatment option
  • May eliminate the need for prescription medications or surgery
  • Provides the patient the chance to participate in their treatment

If you or a family member is experiencing back pain, Dr. Stephen Marano and the team at Spine Surgery of Idaho can help. We have extensive experience diagnosing and treating back- and spine-related problems. Call (208) 522-6930 to schedule a personalized consult.

Advanced Diagnostics

Advanced Diagnostics

At Spine Surgery of Idaho, we offer the most advanced diagnostics available to evaluate your symptoms and examine your pain to find the best treatment option available for you. To determine the root cause of your back or neck problem, one or more of the following test and tools may be used:

Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) – A noninvasive test that uses a powerful magnetic field and radio frequency pulses to create detailed pictures of internal spinal structures to examine the discs, spinal cord, ligaments, joints and openings between the vertebrae.

Myelography – An imaging exam that involves the injection of a contrast dye into the spine in order to view the spinal cord and nerve roots more clearly through a real-time X-ray and computed tomography (CT).

Nerve blocks and epidural injections – An anti-inflammatory medication accompanied by a numbing agent is injected into the spine towards the area of pain. If the pain is relieved, this will help to identify the problem’s location.

Computerized Tomography (CT) – A diagnostic test that combines several X-ray images to create cross-section views and three-dimensional images of targeted areas of the spine.

Bone Density Scan – An enhanced X-ray that measures bone loss, most often in the lower spine and hips, typically used to diagnose osteoporosis.

Discograms – A dye injected into the center of the injured discs to produce a visible image on an X-ray screen.

Dynamic X-ray – A diagnostic test that uses X-ray techniques to obtain measurements of your spinal alignment to assess joint weakness or incomplete bone formation.

Certain conditions or issues that can be diagnosed using these methods include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Work-related spinal injuries
  • Revision surgeries
  • Tough cases
  • Second opinions
  • Spinal trauma
  • Athletic spine injuries

For more information on the advanced diagnostics at Spine Surgery of Idaho, call (208) 944-0056 to schedule an appointment.