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.

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.

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.

Injections for Pain

Injections for Pain

Injections for pain are used to temporarily relieve pain and discomfort caused by a number of pain conditions. Injections are often implemented before exploring other, more aggressive treatments. (In fact, they serve a diagnostic function, providing valuable information about the pain generator by whether or not they provide relief.) Injections have shown to help to reduce back pain and inflammation and usually consist of a steroid and a numbing medicine. Epidural injections are one of the most common methods used today.

What do epidural injections treat?

Epidural injections treat a variety of pain conditions that affect the back and spine. These include:

  • Spinal stenosis – Spinal stenosis occurs when areas within the spine become narrowed, placing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Pain typically is felt in the lower back and neck area and can increase with movement.
  • Herniated discs – Usually the result of gradual wear and tear, a herniated disc occurs when the discs (often in the lower back) in the spine have bulged or become damaged.
  • Degenerative disc disease – Degenerative disc disease occurs when the discs in the spine begin to break down from wear and tear as they age.
  • Failed back surgery syndrome – This occurs when a back surgery does not have the outcome intended, because of nerve damage and/or incomplete healing of the nerve with continued pain.
  • Sciatica – Sciatica occurs when there is pressure or damage done to the sciatic nerve.
  • Vertebral fractures – Often the result of a traumatic injury or osteoporosis, small breaks can occur in any of the vertebrae, causing pain.

How do epidural injections work?

During your treatment, you will be instructed to lie face down on the exam table. The next steps include:

  • Cleaning the skin and injecting an anesthetic for numbing purposes
  • Inserting a needle through the skin toward the spine
  • Injecting a contrast dye to help confirm if the needle is positioned in the epidural space (space between the spine and the spinal cord)
  • Maneuvering the needle between the bones of the spine using real-time X-ray, called fluoroscopy
  • Once the needle is positioned, injecting an anesthetic and steroid-medicated solution (corticosteroid)

The injection is normally not painful due to the numbing medicine used. Temporary, mild tenderness can sometimes occur afterward. The relief from epidural injections will vary from person to person.

Benefits of pain injections

  • Injections are a common method for providing pain relief and are generally safe
  • Injections can help to flush out pain-inducing inflammatory proteins
  • Injections can help you safely return to enjoying your normal activities without the dependency of pain medication
  • Pain relief can significantly improve your quality of life

Take back the life you enjoyed before the pain began. For more information, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule your next appointment.

The Most Common Types of Spine Surgery

The Most Common Types of Spine Surgery

Deciding to have spine surgery can be a difficult choice to make. Usually, spine surgery is recommended only after nonsurgical treatments have been unsuccessful. Learning about your treatment options is one of the best ways to make the right decision for your health.

Benefits of spine surgery

The most important and obvious benefit to spine surgery is to get relief from chronic back pain when other treatments have failed. Most pain will reduce after surgery and recovery. The benefits of reduced pain will include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Increased range of motion
  • Increased activity
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced dependence on pain medication
  • Increased productivity
  • Ability to work again

Risks involved with spine surgery

Most patients who have spine surgery won’t experience any complications during or after their procedures, but with every surgical procedure comes some degree of risk. Some risk factors include:

  • Reaction to anesthesia or other drugs
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Recurrent disc herniation
  • Nerve damage

Most common types of spine surgery

There are many types of spine surgery. The type of procedure you may need will depend on your condition and its severity. They include:

  • Spinal fusion – The most common form of spine surgery, spinal fusion involves surgically joining the spinal bones (vertebrae) together, restricting the motion between the bones and preventing the stretching of the nerves.
  • Laminectomy – Laminectomy consists of removal of parts of the bone (lamina) in order to relieve pressure on the nerves that could be the source of pain or weakness. Sometimes spinal fusion is performed along with a laminectomy for further spinal support.
  • Foraminotomy – A foraminotomy surgery involves enlarging the nerve openings on the side of the vertebrae in order to widen the gap through which nerve roots exit the spine. This can help relieve pressure on the nerves for reduction — or elimination — of pain.
  • Discectomy – A discectomy involves removing part or all of a slipped or herniated disc to relieve pressure on a spinal nerve.
  • Disc replacement – To help improve motion and relieve pain in the spine, an artificial disc can replace a damaged spinal disc.
  • Interlaminar implant – An interlaminar implant is a device placed in between two vertebrae to help support and maintain the space in between. This is an alternative to spinal fusion in select patients.

In some cases, patients will not experience a reduction in spinal pain after their surgery. It’s highly recommended to explore nonsurgical options prior to choosing spine surgery. For more information, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 944-0056 to schedule an appointment.

Tips on Traveling with Back Pain

Tips on Traveling with Back Pain

The thought of traveling with back pain can be daunting for some and can turn an otherwise pleasant trip into a miserable one. Traveling can exacerbate chronic pain conditions and aggravate sore areas in your neck, spine and back, but there are a few things you can do to help relieve and prevent pain while traveling.

Ask for a doctor’s note

Sometimes a doctor’s note can still go a long way. Ask your physician to write a letter to the airline you are flying with to alert the flight staff of certain pain conditions you may have. He or she can also request special accommodations like upgraded seats with more leg room, extra cushions for support, and permission to get out of your seat to move about during the flight.

Provide support to your back during the flight

Lower-back supports, pillows and neck pillows are all great ways to give your back some extra support during a flight. A flight attendant may even be able to give you extra pillows upon request.

Contact the airline prior to your flight

In addition to your doctor’s note, you can also get in touch with the airline prior to your trip to inform them of any health conditions or limitations you may have. If you give them enough advance notice, they may be able to make special accommodations like wheelchair assistance, early boarding, enlisting airline personnel to carry and load your luggage, as well as special shuttles or elevator platforms.

Bring pain medication

Keep yourself prepared by keeping either an over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication with you while traveling. Take your medication an hour before your flight to give it time to process through your system.

Strategically schedule your flight

Some flights are more crowded than others. Do your best to avoid these by contacting the airline to find out which flights tend to be less crowded so that you have a greater likelihood to be able to stretch during the flight. Also try to limit any layovers or downtime between flights as well as early morning flights that could disrupt your normal sleep patterns. Disturbing your normal sleep patterns can make you feel more tired, which often makes pain more severe.

Pack light and minimize heavy lifting

Heavy lifting can place extra pressure on your back, so try to move slowly and pack only what you need for your trip. Most types of luggage have wheels attached to avoid any lifting, but lifting your suitcase in and out of cars or up into carry-on storage can strain your back more.

Move around during the flight

Sitting in one place for extended amounts of time can put extra stress on your back, making the pain feel much worse. Do your best to get up at least once every hour of your flight to move around the cabin and stretch (if you can find some room to). Try to get an aisle seat to avoid disturbing any fellow passengers.

If you or someone you love have been experiencing back pain, call the spine specialists at Spine Surgery of Idaho today at (208) 522-6930 to schedule your next appointment.