FAQ

Spinal Injections

How are spinal injections used in the treatment of spinal pain?
For someone suffering from severe back or neck pain, it can be difficult to get moving, let alone progress into rehab and an exercise program.  Pain-relieving spinal injections can be a successful way to bridge a person back to activity and cut down on the recovery time.

Why is fluoroscopy a key to a successful spinal injection?
Fluoroscopy is a real time live x-ray that provides precise localization of the spinal region to be injected, even in patients with difficult anatomy.  It also lessens the risk of an improperly placed needle and injection in the spinal colum.  As a result of precise visualization, the risks of complications decreases.

Non-Surgical Spine Care

Are you considering spine surgery?  Get a second opinion first.
Every year, about 500,000 spine surgeries are performed in the United States, about twice the rate of other countries.  Some experts believe that about half of these back surgeries done in the US are unneccessary.  Some people also come out of spine surgery with persistent symptoms. 

A common reason for back surgery is pain radiating down the leg.  But did you know that pain radiating down a leg can also come from an irritated joint, or a strained piriformis muscle?  Let our trained physicians at SpineAbilene help you determine exactly where the pain is coming from. 

Do all people with herniated discs have pain?
Over the past 30 years, new advances like CT and MRI imaging have enabled physicians to detect herniated discs in the spine.  But as many as a third of healthy people in their 60s have herniated disc without any back pain.

Are there any helpful pointers to relieve back pain at home?
About 80% of us will have an attack of back pain at some point.  The good news is that most back pain is caused by a sprain or strain, rather than a herniated disc or other complicated problem.  Here’s more good news:  Most simple back pain will often go away with home remedies.

Here are some good first aid remedies for simple back pain.  First, take an anti-inflammatory (avoid if you are on blood thinners or have a history of ulcers), like ibuprofen or naproxen. 

Second, do the pain relieving home exercises on our website.  Mild stretching exercises are needed to make your back more flexible, stronger and resistant to injury. 

What is the proper way to lift objects without injuring my back?
Probably the most common cause of low back pain is lifting.  You can hurt your back when it isn’t strong enough, or flexible enough, to lift an object.

  1.  Not too heavy. Make sure it is not too heavy as you can risk hurting your back by lifting incorrectly.  When you are 20 years old, the back is often strong enough to lift most objects.
  2. Use your legs.  As we get older, the back is more prone to strain.  Using proper body mechanics can help.  Here’s how to lift an object in a way that lessens the strain on your back.  The key is to use your leg muscles.
  3. Get it close.  When lifting, maneuver the object close to your body so you can use the power of your LEGS, rather than your low back, to get the object off the grounde.  Start with one knee on the floor, use the strength of your arms to raise the object up onto your mid-thigh, then simply stand up.  An alternate method is to bend both knees to a squatting position, grasp the object with your fingers underneath, keep your back erct and stand.

How can an aging individual stay stronger longer?
Did you know there is now a term used for the slow decline in function seen in the elderly?  It is called sarcopenia from the Greek word meaning “vanishing flesh”.  The effects of sarcopenia can be reduced—even reversed!  All that is required is a moderate amount of exercise.  The type of exercise is extremely important—but more of that later.

First the bad news.  Most functions in the body decline as we age.  For instance, by the age of 70, most people have 20% less muscle tissue than at age 30.  By the age of 80, this number climbs to 40% less muscle.  Our aerobic capacity (the ability and efficiency in which we use oxygen from muscles) is also greatly reduced.  We also know that the less we exercise the more we accumulate body fat especially towards our midsection.  Increase body fat predisposes you to diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

The number of nerve fibers have been shown to decrease and slow down the rate in which they transmit signals (reaction time) as we age.  As a result, reaction times are slowed, balance may become impaired and there is an increased risk of fall and subsequent fractures.

Bone mass declines beginning at the age of 35 for men and women.  Women can lose up to a third of their bone mass within the first 5 years after menopause.

So, how do we reverse the age related effects of sarcopenia?  Exercise!  It is never too early and rarely too late to begin an exercise program to reverse the age-related decreases in mobility.  Start out with a good stretching program. It is important to begin with range of motion to all joints. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds and NEVER bounce.  The degree of stretch achieved should not cause pain, but rather mild discomfort.  Three to five repetitions for each exercise should be performed.

Next you need to build up your aerobic capacity so that you don’t run out of breath during exercise.  Try walking outside or on a treadmill.  Exercise bikes in various shapes and forms are also great!!  Your long term goal is 30 minutes per day of walking or other aerobic exercise.

You won’t see immediate results with your new exercise program.  Gradually the exercises will get easier and you’ll be looking for more challenging exercises.  Have fun with exercise, knowing all along that  you are staying stronger longer.

Does staying active play a role in recovery from back or neck pain?
There is a lot you can do for your recovery from back or neck pain.  Keep in mind that too much rest can actually be bad for you.  Researches have found that one day of bed rest will cost you a 3% loss of muscle power, in addition to a loss of bone density, which makes your bones weaker and more prone to fracture.  In short, too much rest makes you age faster.  For instance, you need a 20 minute walk to counter the effect of 3 hours of lying down.