Diet Tips to Help With Arthritis Pain

diet tips to help with arthritis pain

Arthritis, which is a broad category of joint diseases and conditions that cause joint pain, is the foremost cause of disability in the United States. Around 50 million adults, as well as 300,000 children, have some form of the condition.

The treatment for arthritis depends on the type of condition and the severity of the symptoms. Pain reducing and anti-inflammatory medications are often used to manage symptoms. Many people also try physical therapy, changes in diet and exercise habits and alternative therapies such as acupuncture. In cases where these less aggressive treatments don’t help, some people opt for surgeries such as joint repair, joint fusion and joint replacement.

Can Diet Help Arthritis?

When the symptoms of arthritis are mild to moderate, diet may be able to help manage them. It can also play a role in preventing arthritis from developing or becoming worse. Although scientific studies haven’t fully proven the link between arthritis and nutrition, many people that have arthritis say that the food they eat affects the severity of their symptoms. Even if the evidence isn’t conclusive, the results of several trials and testimony of patients are enough to warrant giving dietary changes a try.

losing weight to alleviate pressure

Preventing and Managing Arthritis With Diet

There isn’t one magic food or recommended diet for arthritis that will cure all symptoms. The most helpful foods vary from condition to condition and person to person. There are some foods and diets though that could help with arthritis pain. Trial and error and talking with your doctor will help you find what works best for you. With that in mind, here are some diet tips to try for managing and preventing arthritis.

Changes in diet may be helpful for both preventing and managing arthritis, especially when symptoms are mild or moderate. Many of the tactics for preventing arthritis also help to slow its progression once it started and help to reduce pain associated with arthritis and related conditions.

  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight

    Making sure you’re at a healthy weight may be one of the best ways to prevent arthritis, as well as relieve symptoms. Staying at a healthy weight will not only improve your overall health but will also relieve pressure on your joints.

    One study in Arthritis & Rheumatism of overweight patients with knee arthritis found that losing just one pound took four pounds of pressure off of the knees. That means that losing ten pounds would alleviate 40 pounds of pressure — a significant improvement that will help the knee joints to wear down less over time.

    Losing weight also lowers inflammation, the cause of some forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid and psoriatic. It can also reduce pain in general, as well as provide some other health benefits such as decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.

    Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly is the best way to keep a healthy weight. When it comes to diet, eat a good amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats every day but avoid sugars and unhealthy fats.

    Regular exercise is also important for losing weight or maintaining a healthy one. Those who have arthritis or are at high risk for it should be careful about the kinds of activities they do though. Running, for example, puts increased stress on joints. For those concerned about joint pain, walking is a better option.

  • milk to help body absorb calcium

  • Calcium and Vitamin D

    You’re probably well aware that calcium helps builds strong bones. It’s important for everyone to get enough calcium, but it’s especially crucial for those with arthritis. Getting enough calcium can help stop arthritis from getting worse or leading to other health problems, such as osteoporosis and increased risk of bone fractures. It may help prevent arthritis from developing in the first place as well.

    Calcium is much more effective when working in tandem with vitamin D. It may increase absorption of calcium by as much as 65 percent. When consuming calcium, you should always try to get some vitamin D as well.

    The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium for those 50 and younger is 1000 milligrams (mg). For those over 50, it’s 1200 mg. Some doctors and nutrition experts, however, recommend up to 1500 mg for those with inflammatory conditions. The tolerable upper limit (TUI), which is the highest amount you can take without negative health impacts, is 2500 mg.

    Although some experts believe the numbers should be higher, the recommended amount of vitamin D in a day for someone age 70 or under is 600 international units (IU) daily. For those over 70, the recommendation is 800 IU each day. The TUI is 4000 IU.

    The best places to get calcium are in dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, certain vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli as well as canned sardines, salmon with bones and soy products.

    Milk is often fortified with vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium. Yogurt, breakfast cereals and orange juice may also have vitamin D. Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna have small amounts. The body also creates Vitamin D when the skin comes into contact with the sun.

    You can also take supplements to ensure you get enough calcium and vitamin D, but you should ask your doctor first because supplements can sometimes come with health risks.

  • Vitamin C

    Vitamin C has a number of health benefits, some of which can help alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Other times, though, studies have shown that it can make arthritis worse. The key to finding the right amount of vitamin C to take is understanding the type of arthritis you have and how vitamin C affects that type.

    For the majority of people, vitamin C is healthy. The RDA for men is 90 mg a day and for women, it’s 75 mg. Smokers require an extra 35 mg. The highest amount of vitamin C you can safely consume is 2000 mg in a day.

    If you have osteoarthritis, the kind that develops slowly over time as joint deteriorate, or are at an elevated risk for it, you may not want to exceed your RDA, according to a 2004 study. The research, which was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that higher doses of the vitamin over a long period worsened osteoarthritis in the knee.

    When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the linings in the joints, vitamin C may be helpful. Another study from the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases concluded that ingesting higher amounts of vitamin C reduces the risks of getting inflammatory arthritis.

    This may be due to the vitamin’s antioxidant properties, which help it stop molecules that can prompt inflammation. It could also be because of its role in creating collagen, the main protein in bones and joints as well as its role in fighting infection, which has been linked to inflammation.

    You can get vitamin C from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as other fruits such as strawberries, kiwis and cantaloupe are especially good sources. Vegetables such as peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale also have high levels of vitamin C. You can also get your daily dose from supplements but be wary of getting too much and get your vitamins naturally whenever possible.

  • omega 3 fatty acids to prevent arthritis

  • Other Important Vitamins and Minerals

    There is a wide range of other vitamins and minerals that may aid in preventing arthritis and alleviating arthritis symptoms. They’re all part of a healthy and balanced diet, but some are especially helpful for arthritis patients.

    Iron, which helps the body produce hemoglobin and prevent anemia, may be especially crucial for those with rheumatoid arthritis. Anemia is common in people who have RA and may be linked to inflammation. RA also hinders the body’s absorption of iron. The RDA for iron is eight mg each day for men and 18 mg per day for women until menopause when the RDA drops to 8. The TUL for iron is 45 mg.

    Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, strengthens bones and may get rid of inflammatory cells that play a part in causing rheumatoid arthritis. Getting enough vitamin K could also help reduce the risk of osteoarthritis in the knees and hands. You can get this vitamin from leafy greens such as kale, spinach and lettuce as well as fermented soy products like soy sauce and miso. Vitamin K is so effective that eating just one serving of romaine a day could reduce the risk of hip fractures by half. The RDA is 120 mg for men and 90 mg for women.

    Other vitamins and minerals that may help with arthritis include vitamin A, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, vitamin E copper and zinc. Talk to your doctor for help figuring out what could work for you and your arthritis.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    In recent years, omega-3 fatty acids have been touted as one of the healthiest things for you, whether you get it from fish or a supplement. As it turns out, it may be especially good for people with various forms of arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. They’ve also been found to control joint pain and stiffness.

    Two important omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, can help with joint pain. They can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, anchovies, tuna, mackerel and sardines. Another type of omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, can be found in nuts and seeds.

    There isn’t a standard recommended amount of this nutrient, but you should aim to eat fish that have a lot of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids two to three times a week. While most health professionals recommend getting your omega-3s naturally through eating certain foods, you can also get it also take fish oil supplements.

  • Avoiding Inflammatory Foods

    When you’re in pain due to rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by inflammation, eating foods that cause more inflammation can make that pain worse.

    Many of the foods that can lead to inflammation are those that we generally consider unhealthy. Sugars, which can be called many different things, can trigger inflammatory messengers in the body. Anything that ends in –ose, such as glucose, sucralose and fructose, is a potential suspect. Sugar substitutes such as aspartame can cause problems too, especially if your body is sensitive to them.

    Many of the foods that can lead to inflammation are those that we generally consider unhealthy. Sugars, which can be called many different things, can trigger inflammatory messengers in the body. Anything that ends in –ose, such as glucose, sucralose and fructose, is a potential suspect. Sugar substitutes such as aspartame can cause problems too, especially if your body is sensitive to them.

    Omega-6 fatty acids, which are different than omega-3 fatty acids, are healthy in small amounts. If consumed in high amounts, however, it can lead to increased inflammation. These fatty acids are found in oils used for cooking as well as mayonnaise and some salad dressings.

    Omega-6 fatty acids, which are different than omega-3 fatty acids, are healthy in small amounts. If consumed in high amounts, however, it can lead to increased inflammation. These fatty acids are found in oils used for cooking as well as mayonnaise and some salad dressings.

    Alcohol is another thing that can cause inflammation. Consume it in moderation or not at all if you’re having trouble with joint pain caused by RA.

  • ginger and tumeric to reduce arthritis inflammation

  • Herbs and Spices

    Another way that some people attempt to combat arthritis pain is by adding certain herbs and spices to their foods. Simply by adding a little something extra to your meals, you can help to relieve some of your joint pain.

    Turmeric, the ground-up root of the turmeric plant, is one such herb. The yellow-brown powder grows in India and Indonesia and is used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine to treat arthritis. Recent studies have substantiated this belief, especially when it comes to preventing the condition. It’s been shown to reduce pain, inflammation and joint stiffness. Just don’t take it in higher-than-recommended doses as it can act as a blood thinner and upset the stomach.

    Ginger, which is related to Turmeric, is another spice that could help people with arthritis. The root of the ginger plant, either dried or fresh, can similarly reduce joint pain and inflammation like ibuprofen does. Ginger, like turmeric, has been used in traditional Asian medicine for many years.

    A host of other herbs and supplements have been said to help with preventing arthritis and managing joint pain. While there often isn’t enough research to prove their effectiveness, they may be worth trying. Just be sure to talk with your doctor first and ensure there won’t be any interactions with medications. Black currant oil, borage oil, flaxseed, melatonin, rose hips and stinging nettle have all been reported to help with arthritis.

The Benefits of a Healthy Diet

No matter who you are, you can benefit from a healthy diet. One area in which it can help is managing arthritis-related pain, keeping arthritis from worsening and preventing an arthritis condition from occurring in the first place. From simply eating healthier and controlling weight to eating more foods that are high in certain vitamins and minerals, diet can be helpful in managing arthritis pain.


Neck Pain Stretches You Can Do at Home

Neck Pain Stretches You Can Do at Home

Pain in the neck is a lot more than just an expression for many people. Neck pain is one of the most common types of pain. A National Institute of Health Statistics survey found that neck pain was one of the top four pain complaints, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. The four most common types of pain conditions include:

  • Low back pain: 27 percent of people
  • Neck pain: 15 percent of people
  • Migraine: 15 percent of people
  • Facial pain: 4 percent of people

Neck pain is so common that 30 to 50 percent of people will experience some type of discomfort in that area on an annual basis, according to the International Association for the Study of Pain. Pain in this area can be strong enough to limit activity for 11 percent to 14 percent of the population at least once a year.

You are not alone in suffering from neck pain, and you can take action to manage and alleviate it.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

The first step in taking control of your pain is finding out the cause. Some of the biggest risk factors for neck pain include:

  • Middle age
  • Repetitive work
  • High-stress work
  • Previous injury in the neck or shoulders

Women are also more likely to experience neck pain than men.

Neck pain, while very uncomfortable and disruptive, is usually not a reason for alarm. Here are a few of the biggest culprits for pain in this area.

  • Strain. Strain is one of the biggest causes of nagging neck pain. People who spend the workday sitting at a desk and looking at a computer are prone to this kind of strain, but neck discomfort can be caused by even more subtle things. Something as simple as grinding or clenching your teeth or sleeping in the wrong position can trigger neck pain.
  • Acute injury. This may be the easiest cause to identify. For example, a recent car accident is likely to cause neck pain. Whiplash can cause significant strain in your neck muscles.
  • Worn down joints. People who have reached middle age are at a higher risk for neck pain than those of younger ages simply because of natural wear and tear on their joints. This degenerative condition is known as osteoarthritis.

While neck pain is common, be sure to monitor your symptoms. If you haven’t noticed any improvement for several days or more symptoms arise, talk to your physician. Your doctor can help you narrow down the cause and recommend effective treatments.

How to Treat and Prevent Neck Pain

Once you have determined the cause of your neck pain is a strain and not a more serious issue, there are plenty of ways you can address your discomfort. Try some basic at-home care, such as:

  • Using a heating pad or take a warm shower to apply warmth to the area
  • Using an icepack to apply cold to the affected area
  • Taking over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium to help reduce pain and inflammation

risk factors for neck pain

If you are looking for some additional relief, you might even consider getting a massage from a trained professional.

While ice, heat and medication can help treat the neck pain you are experiencing, the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true. Here are few simple lifestyle changes you can try to keep neck pain at bay:

  • Avoid slouching. Slouching often feels more comfortable at the moment, but it actually puts a lot of strain on the muscles in your neck, not to mention your back and shoulders. Make a conscious effort to sit up straight without letting your head lean forward. Improved posture can have a significant impact on neck strain.
  • Break up long periods of sitting. Sitting all day long, which is unavoidable for many people, can wreak havoc on your neck. You are more prone to slump in your seat and place strain on your neck if you sit without any breaks. Try to break up your sitting schedule by standing up every 20 minutes or so. It could be simple as standing up and stretching. Alternatively, you could take a quick walk to grab a cup of coffee.
  • Evaluate your workstation. If you are someone who sits all day for work, take a look how you spend that time. Is your computer screen situated in a way that you don’t have to crane your neck to see? If not, adjust the monitor, so it rests at eye level. Does your chair provide enough back support, or are you slumping to find a comfortable position? Consider switching chairs or adding a pillow for additional lumbar support. Making sitting in an upright, supported position a habit can reduce your risk of experiencing neck pain.
  • Change pillows. How you sleep can have a big impact on how you feel when you wake up, particularly as you get older. If you are sitting up in bed reading or watching TV, remember to keep your neck in a neutral, relaxed position. Using a wedge-shaped pillow for your back can help you achieve the optimal position. When it comes to actually going to sleep, consider getting a cervical pillow. This type of pillow is specifically designed to support your neck.

Exercises for Neck Pain

Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for neck pain. Simple, at-home exercises can be a valuable tool in addressing your neck pain. Here are 12 of the best exercises for neck pain:

  • Side Stretch

    Side stretch is one the simplest neck exercises for neck pain. Start by standing up in a relaxed, but upright posture. Make sure your shoulders are in a neutral position. Slowly lean your head toward your right shoulder.

    Side stretch is one the simplest neck exercises for neck pain. Start by standing up in a relaxed, but upright posture. Make sure your shoulders are in a neutral position. Slowly lean your head toward your right shoulder.

  • Diagonal Stretch

    Diagonal neck stretch is another good exercise for neck pain. Start standing in a neutral, upright position, like you would for side stretch. Instead of leaning your head toward your shoulder, rotate your neck slightly to one side. Then lean your head toward your chest.

    You can use your hand to softly press your head down, deepening the stretch. Straighten your neck and twist it in the other direction to repeat the exercise. You can do this stretch several times on each side of your body.

  • Neck Drop

    The neck drop exercise can be done either sitting or standing — just make sure your back is in an upright position. Start with your neck in a neutral position. Then, slowly drop your chin toward your chest. Let it rest there for a moment before slowly raising it up back up. Then, gently drop your head backward and hold it there for a few moments.

    You can repeat this gentle backward and forward motion several times. Pause each time and hold the stretch when your head is tipped toward your chest and again when it is tipped back over your shoulders.

  • exercise to treat neck pain

  • Neck Rotation

    Neck rotation is one of the best neck pain cure exercises, particularly for discomfort that strikes the muscles that run down the sides of the neck. You can take a seat or remain standing. Keep your back and neck straight. Slowly move your head to the right side. Hold the stretch before returning your head to center. Then move your head to the left side and hold the stretch.

    You can sweep your head back and forth several times — just remember to stretch each side equally.

  • Neck Extension

    This is a strengthening exercise for your neck muscles. Begin with your head and neck in a neutral posture. Next, lace both of your hands behind your head. You will begin to move your head backward and look up. Use your hands to provide firm resistance to your head’s movement.

    You want your neck muscles to be putting in some real work. Extend your neck as far back as possible before returning to a neutral posture. Repeat this exercise several times.

  • Chin Moves

    You can sit or stand with a straight back for this posture-improving exercise. Release any tension you are holding in your jaw. Make a peace sign with your ring and middle finger. Place those fingers on your chin. Gently press your head backward. Remove your fingers and leave your head in that position for at least 20 seconds.

    Repeat the exercise several times. Chin moves help you to train your muscles for better posture. This movement places your ears over your shoulders, which is the ideal posture. Good posture can solve many issues related to neck pain.

  • Clasped Hands Stretch

    You will need to be standing for this exercise. Stand with your feet in line with your hips. Take both hands and clasp them behind your back. You will place one hand around the opposite wrist. Use this hand to pull gently on the wrist and lengthen that arm. You will feel the stretch in your neck and your shoulders.

    Continue to stretch gently in this pose for approximately 30 seconds. Release your arms. Next, switch which arm is doing the stretching. You can do this exercise multiple times on both sides of your body.

  • Downward Dog on the Wall

    This exercise is a variation of yoga’s downward dog, but you will need the assistance of a wall. Stand facing the wall and bring your hands to the wall at the same level as your waist. You want to be far enough away from the wall to keep your back completely straight. Also keep your neck straight and look down at the floor.

    You don’t have to worry about keeping your legs perfectly straight, however, especially if you feel like this exercise is putting a lot of strain on your hamstrings. You can bend your knees slightly.

    Press your palms into the wall and lift your hip bones toward the ceiling. This stretch can help with pain in both your neck and back.

  • Good posture solves neck problems

  • Shoulder Rolls

    Strain and tension in your shoulder muscles are closely linked to neck pain. Shoulder rolls help you work on building the muscles that keep your neck upright. First, sit down in a chair with a straight back or stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. You will begin by rolling your shoulders forward in a smooth, circular motion.

    Repeat this several times before you reverse the direction of the shoulder rolls.

  • Chest Stretch

    The quality of your posture has a significant effect on how you hold your neck and the muscles that support it. You will be seated on the floor for this exercise, designed to help improve your posture. Sit with a straight back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands flat on the ground behind you. Draw your shoulder blades together, and push your chest up toward the ceiling. Your elbows might bend slightly.

    Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch several times for maximum impact.

  • Upward Chest Stretch

    This exercise is considered a “heart opener” stretch in yoga. Sit on back on your heels on the ground. Lean your head back and look toward the ceiling. You will place your hands, palms down, behind you for support. Continue leaning your head back — you might even be able to see the wall behind you. You will feel this stretch in the muscles across your chest and even across your throat.

    Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Then gently raise your head and chest back to a neutral position. Bridge Pose

  • Bridge Pose

    Bridge pose will be familiar to anyone who has ever practiced yoga. This exercise is great for stretching the muscles in your neck and back. You also have the ability to control how deep the stretch is by how you position your hips. To get into bridge pose, begin flat on your back. Next, bend your knees while leaving your feet flat on the ground and hip-distance apart. Lift your hips toward the ceiling while leaving your shoulders firmly planted on the ground. Grasp your hands together beneath your raised back and bottom.

    The further you raise your hips the more intense the stretch in your back and neck muscles. Hold this posture for at least 30 seconds. You can repeat the exercise multiple times.

add exercise to daily routine to treat neck pain

Specializing in Pain Management Treatments

Exercise has a cumulative effect. Try to make a few of these exercises a part of your daily routine. The more you do these exercises, the greater the benefit. You will be strengthening your neck muscles, reducing any pain you do have and reducing the risk of experiencing the same type of neck discomfort.

As you grow older, you will have to focus more on knowing your body and its triggers for pain. Vigilance when it comes to your daily habits and your exercise regimen can go a long way in managing and preventing neck pain.

If you have questions regarding treatment for neck pain, please contact our offices or request a free MRI review to get answers about your neck pain today.


Why Do I Need Spine Surgery Again?

Why Do I Need Spine Surgery Again

You finally had that back surgery, and you had high hopes it was going to fix your problem. But something’s still wrong. The problem lingers. You’re still in pain. It might even feel like you’re in more pain after the spine surgery. The surgery might seem like it’s only created a whole new host of problems.

Having problems after back surgery is extremely frustrating. When you decide to undergo surgery, you put all your hopes into it. Sometimes it simply doesn’t get the job done. Other times it creates more problems than it solves.

Everyone experiences discomfort after a surgery. It’s entirely natural, and while it’s unpleasant, it’s to be expected. As your body heals in the days and weeks after surgery, the pain should naturally lessen and eventually fade.

However, if you’re still having pain months or years later, this might be a sign something is not right. Pain is a tool your body uses to tell you there’s a problem. If your back is still giving you constant pain, it might be time to talk to your doctor and see if a second back surgery is the right option for you.

Revision Surgery Fast Facts

If you’ve already had a back surgery and are going to have a second one, this secondary surgery is known as revision surgery. As might be expected, the goal of revision surgery is to fix problems that were not entirely resolved by the initial surgery, as well as to address any problems created by the first surgery. And of course, another goal of revision surgery is also to relieve pain and increase comfort levels of patients.

Most patients who decide to undergo revision surgery continue to experience chronic pain months or years after their initial surgery. Something has clearly gone wrong either during or after the initial surgery, and an additional procedure is deemed necessary to correct the problem.

Problems After Back Surgery: What’s Causing Them?

A number of complications may have occurred during or after the first surgery:

  • There could be unusual scar tissue around the surgery site.
  • Perhaps the surgery site healed incorrectly, and this could be causing other problems in the spine.
  • The surgery may have been successful, but perhaps the diagnosis was wrong and so the initial problem was still not fixed.
  • The patient simply wasn’t a good candidate for the initial surgery in the first place. Due to certain health or lifestyle concerns, the patient’s body may have suffered during the rigors of the surgery, and it may not have healed correctly.

It’s possible the surgery may have done more harm than good. Of course, ordinary post-surgical complications may also be causing problems, but that’s just one possibility out of many. Keep in mind it’s always best to talk to your doctor before attempting to self-diagnose a condition.

goal of revision surgery

Why You’re Experiencing More Pain After Back Surgery

The thought of still more surgery might be scary. But by gathering as much information as possible, you can be better prepared to understand your situation and face the future with optimism and confidence.

With that in mind, here are some of the most likely causes of back pain after a surgery. While everyone’s case is different, all of these conditions can be cause for revision surgery. Please keep in mind this list should serve as a starting point to your research, not as a definitive guide with all the information you’ll need. Your primary resource in this process should always be your doctor or surgeon.

Adjacent Segment Disease

Adjacent Segment Disease is an advanced form of Adjacent Segment Degeneration. Basically, it’s a term for a condition that occurs within spines after they’ve been operated on. It means an anatomical change has taken place in the joints around the spinal joint that was operated on. This change is sometimes abbreviated from Adjacent Segment Disease to ASD.

Scientists still have yet to determine if the surgery itself causes ASD or if it’s just the natural continuing degeneration of the spine that’s responsible. It might be the patient would still have developed ASD symptoms even without the initial surgery.

There is evidence, however, that the risk of ASD increases after surgeries such as spinal fusion, which causes you to lose range of motion at the site of the surgery:

  • Your body then has to make up for this loss.
  • The surrounding joints essentially pick up the slack for the joint that no longer moves.
  • This adds more stress to the surrounding joints and causes them to degenerate at a much faster rate than they would have ordinarily.

One of the aspects of ASD that can make it particularly frustrating is that it doesn’t typically occur right away. You might have a year, two years or even three years without pain after your surgery before ASD begins to rear its ugly head. Revision surgery is a possibility in order to correct the problems in the affected joints. One possible such surgery is total disc replacement.

Recurring Disc Herniation

This problem sometimes arises after having a discectomy. Essentially, this problem is nothing more than a repeat of the original problem that led to the first surgery. Symptoms of this problem include sciatica, or a shooting pain running down your arm, and other classic symptoms of a basic herniated disc.

During the discectomy, the surgeon only removes the fragments that have become detached from the main damaged disc. The disc itself remains intact, aside from the fragments the surgeon removed. Unfortunately, this means it might be just as susceptible to herniation as it was before.

The revision surgery works exactly like the first. The unusable pieces of the disc are cleared away, leaving the only good parts of the disc.

fusion surgeries increase risk of pseudoarthrosis

Pseudoarthrosis

This problem occurs after a spinal fusion surgery and is more common than you might initially think. The term “pseudoarthrosis” simply refers to a lack of bone fusion following the initial fusion surgery. It means the original surgery was a failure. The bone did not heal correctly, and the operation was unsuccessful.

It usually occurs less than a year after the initial surgery. Surprisingly enough, it occurs in roughly 68% of spinal fusions. Out of this 68%, anywhere between 6 and 36% end up needing revision surgery.

It might be easy to assume hardware implementation is part of what’s causing the problems, but in fact the opposite seems to be true:

  • Studies have shown fusion surgeries done without any kind of hardware implementation can actually increase your risk of developing pseudoarthrosis by up to 70%.
  • Your risk of developing this condition is also affected by numerous other factors. These include your original diagnosis, any pre-existing health concerns, lifestyle concerns such as smoking and the type of bone graft used, if any.

It might be confusing to see smoking included in this list, but there’s actually a strong connection between smoking and candidacy for this kind of surgery. Smoking leads to constricted blood vessels, which then leads to decreased blood flow to the area of the fusion. Because of this, smokers have been shown to have a decrease in bone fusion. If pain-relief medication has been tried and been ineffective, a second spinal fusion surgery might be necessary to correct this problem.

Revision Total Disc Replacement

Total Disc Replacement, also known as TDR, is still a relatively new procedure. While this shouldn’t discourage you from getting this type of surgery, the risk of complications occurring during or after could be a bit higher than they might be for practices that have been around for longer.

One of the things that might go wrong with this surgery is the hardware itself. While it’s possible for the prosthetic disc in your spine to malfunction, it’s much more likely to have simply been positioned incorrectly.

Because the purpose of TDR is to replace the damaged disc entirely and thus preserve the full range of motion, the problems could stem from the regular degenerative progress of the nearby spinal joints. If the pain from this problem becomes too severe, revision fusion surgery may be the right solution.

smokers shown to have decrease in bone fusion

Problems With Hardware From Spinal Surgery

This isn’t an extremely common case, but it’s still a possibility. As part of spinal surgery, you may have had certain types of hardware implemented into your spine. This could include but is not limited to prosthetic discs, pins, screws or any kind of hardware used for spinal fusion.

Cases where the implanted hardware causes problems are known generally as “painful hardware.” And while you might expect this is typically a problem with the hardware itself, more often than not the problem is a matter of misplaced hardware. The misplacement can cause pain that’s anywhere from moderate to severe.

Very rarely, however, hardware can actually break inside your body. Understandably, this can cause a significant amount of pain as well.

When revision surgery is necessary because of hardware problems, the purpose of the surgery is usually not to remove the offending device. Instead, the purpose is to adjust the placement, which is the most likely the cause of the pain. In most cases, this type of problem will not take years to surface. If there are indeed problems with your hardware, you will most likely notice them fairly quickly, and the revision surgery will usually take place right away.

Moving Forward With Addressing Your Back Pain

Now that you’re informed about some of the possibilities that could cause you pain, let’s look at the next steps you should take.

Contacting Your Doctor About Back Issues

Your first step should always be to call your doctor. If the pain has gotten to the point where it’s interrupting your daily life, don’t wait. Set up an appointment with your doctor and explain what’s been going on.

While this appointment will look a little bit different for everyone, here are some fairly common steps you can expect to happen at this initial appointment and discussion with your doctor:

  1. Your doctor will probably ask you to explain the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and review the level of pain you’ve been suffering. While this might be a stressful step for some, it’s also an important one as it’s essential for your doctor to understand what’s really going on and come up with the best treatment options for you.
  2. Your doctor will also probably review your history of treatment, including past surgeries, past symptoms and past pain levels. Again, all this will help them understand what might be going wrong now.
  3. There will probably be a standard physical exam to check for simpler solutions to your pain and also to make sure you’re in good health other than your back pain.
  4. Depending on your situation, this exam will most likely be followed by a more thorough testing with an X-ray, a CT scan or an MRI. This will help your doctor get a better look at your spine and maybe get an idea of what’s causing your pain and how best to treat it.

Possible Treatments for Your Back Problems

After this examination, it’s important for you and your doctor to sit down together and talk things through. Treatment options will vary depending on your situation.

Revision surgery might be an option, or it might not. Physical therapy might relieve your pain and help correct the problem without undergoing a second surgery. Sometimes even diet and regular exercise can do wonders to improve pain levels.

A second surgery might not be the solution right for your body, but it’s worth talking it over with your doctor. This will help you to be more informed and more aware of the options available to you. By openly communicating with your doctor and doing everything you can to learn more about your condition, you can gain confidence about your options.

It’s important to realize that while your doctor will certainly have recommendations, the decision is ultimately yours to make. A doctor can tell you if revision surgery is likely to help you or not. But the decision to have revision surgery or not is up to you.

decision to have revision surgery

The Benefits of Revision Surgery

After all this talk of things that have the potential to go wrong with spinal surgery, having a second spinal surgery is probably the last thing you want to do. But in reality, there are more benefits to it than you might initially think.

With a second surgery, the doctors and surgeons will have even more knowledge than they did for the first operation. They will be more likely to know your body’s tendencies. This means they will be better able to anticipate problems your body might have and better able to take steps to prevent them.

You have a busy, full life to live. If your back causes you so much pain it’s interfering with the way you want to live your life, then it’s worth the surgery. By choosing to undergo a second surgery, you can get busy looking forward to having your life back — free from pain and full of plans for the future. If you need a qualified doctor’s opinion on your revision surgery, contact NJ Spine & Orthopedic today for more information.


Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe During Fall Sports

keeping children safe during fall sports

Fall is back to school time, a bittersweet event for many families. Parents anticipate the return to healthy routines, while many kids dread the structure of academic life. Additionally, fall sports provide a chance for kids to enjoy teamwork and some outdoor fun, but parents often worry about safety and the potential for injuries.

Fall sports can be educational, fun and safe when guidelines are followed and safety measures employed. Even if you are not out on the field with your kids, there are ways you can help keep them safe during fall sports, too.

Child Safety

Keeping your child safe is a parent’s general concern year-round, but your anxiety can be increased during fall sports season. Fortunately, some of the same precautions you take to protect your children in other areas can also help them stay safe during fall sports:

Encourage proper sleep habits — Kids are still developing mentally and physically, and this requires plenty of sleep. During sleep, the body and brain can recover from the activities of the day and grow and develop more strength for the days ahead. Good sleep is a safety requirement for children in all areas of their lives. They will be more likely to perform better in school, avoid careless accidents and make better decisions when they are sufficiently rested.

Ensure good nutrition — Nutrition is important for everybody, but kids especially thrive on the nutrients they get from the food they eat. A young digestive system breaks down food more thoroughly and makes the most of the vitamins and minerals it contains. Kids are still growing bones and muscles, too, so feeding them well will help keep them strong and free of injuries.

Pay attention to healthcare — This can be as simple as bandaging a cut, so it is not exposed to infection. Kids are not fully aware of their bodies and are often unable to judge when they need medical attention. As a parent, you can keep your child safe by assessing signs of illness or injury and seeking the proper care for them.

Sports Safety Tips

Even if you are not particularly athletic yourself, you can keep your child safe in fall sports by remembering these tips:

• Always insist on proper safety gear

• Keep kids hydrated before, during and after sports

• Get your child a physical before each sports season

• Never let them skip the before- or after-game warm-up

• Make sure the coach has your emergency contact information

• Have injuries assessed by a qualified professional

Fall sports are fun, but there is nothing fun about sitting in the emergency room or getting sidelined by a serious injury. Protect your child with good health habits and consult a doctor if you have any concerns.

For sports physicals or injury assessment, contact Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery to schedule an appointment.


How Does Smoking Affect Back Pain

How Does Smoking Affect Back Pain?

Smokers are more likely to develop chronic back pain than non-smokers. You might attribute this to some lifestyle issues. Smokers are generally not as healthy as non-smokers. Smoking reduces the immune system’s ability to defend the body against disease. Smokers get more colds and have more respiratory issues than non-smokers.

Beyond all of that, there are now some scientifically proven reasons why smoking causes chronic back pain:

    Smoking affects the areas of the brain that are involved in habit forming and addiction. The brain activity that is associated with resistance to chronic pain is stimulated by smoking. Smokers are more likely to develop chronic pain because their brain pathways to chronic pain are better connected.

    Blood flow to the discs in your spine is restricted by smoking. Those discs are meant to cushion the vertebrae, and they degenerate faster in smokers.
    Smokers are prone to coughing, and that can cause back pain.

    Smoking blocks calcium absorption in the body, which slows bone growth and repair. Smokers are at a higher risk for osteoporosis and tiny fractures in the spine.

    Studies show that when people quit smoking, these health risks are reduced. In time, calcium absorption resumes, as does blood flow to the spinal discs. If you experience chronic back pain and you smoke, quitting may help resolve your pain.

Back Pain Causes

There are several causes for back pain, but most of them come down to a structural issue in the spine. When a vertebra has even a tiny fracture, it is susceptible to causing pain. It could move out of place, rest on a nerve or cause the adjacent disc to become injured. If the vertebra becomes unbalanced, it might put more pressure on one side of the disc. If the pressure on the disc becomes too lopsided, the disc could slide out of position.

In addition to running through the middle of the spinal column, nerves run from the spinal cord out from between the vertebrae and to other areas of the body. Any movement of the vertebrae or discs threatens to pinch a nerve. Even if the movement is not permanent, the pain can cause inflammation, which will put more pressure on the nerves and increase the pain.

Because there are so many small structures in the spine, spine pain can have several causes. Knowing the cause of the pain helps determine what can be done to resolve it.

Spine Pain Assessment

Assessing the cause of spine pain begins with some basic information. By understanding where your back hurts and what type of pain it is, we can begin to figure out what is causing your pain. We also need to know how long you’ve had the pain, when it started, if you were injured and if you have other related symptoms.

With all of your information and a few diagnostic tests, we can present you with some treatment options for relieving your back pain. To get started, use our online pain assessment tool and schedule a consultation.