Tag Archives: health

Smoking And Back Pain

The news that smoking is bad for you is hardly groundbreaking. Smoking has been linked to serious diseases like lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Did you know that smoking and back pain are also related? That’s right, if you’re a smoker and are experiencing back pain, smoking is probably part of the issue.

In our line of work, we see the effects of smoking in our patients far too often. So, if you or a loved one is suffering from back pain or preparing for a spinal fusion, this blog post may serve as another great reason to quit smoking.

Smoking And Back Pain

Smoking contributes to the hardening of arteries which decreases your overall blood flow. As you likely learned in a biology class at some point, blood provides nourishment to your body’s organs and structures.

When blood flow is restricted, the areas of your body fed by smaller vessels, like your bones and spinal discs, become severely undernourished. With little to no blood supply, these bones and discs rely on surrounding tissue for nourishment.

But since the surrounding tissues aren’t meant to provide nourishment, they will eventually become depleted, leaving your bones and discs to essentially starve. Once your bones and discs have reached this point, they can no longer repair themselves and will likely cause you pain.

Smoking And Spinal Fusions

One of the most common surgeries we perform is the spinal fusion. In this surgery, a bone graft is used to form a solid bridge between two vertebral segments. For a successful surgery, the bone graft and vertebral segments need to grow together. The problem is that smoking inhibits bone growth, which can cause the surgery to fail.

In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have an unsuccessful spinal fusion as non-smokers. Even if the surgery is successful, smoking accelerates disc degeneration. That means smokers are more likely to continue suffering from chronic pain.Smokers are twice as likely to have an unsuccessful spinal fusion as non-smokers. Click To Tweet

 
Here at Nebraska Spine Hospital, we know that it isn’t easy to quit smoking, which is why we don’t expect our patients to do it alone. We’ve implemented a Surgical Readiness Program to help prepare patients for a healthy surgery. Whether you need to quit smoking, start exercising or lose weight, we offer one-on-one support to help you reach that health goal and, ultimately, have a successful surgery.

Patient Care At Nebraska Spine Hospital

Here at Nebraska Spine Hospital, we pride ourselves on providing our patients with the best care possible. By focusing on the individual, not the condition, we strive to meet the needs of every patient. We want to make sure you feel heard by every staff member, from doctors and nurses to support staff.By focusing on the individual, not the condition, we strive to meet the needs of every patient. Click To Tweet

To give potential patients a better understanding of what it’s like to receive care at Nebraska Spine Hospital, we asked a repeat patient to share snippets of her journey.

Meet Deborah

Deborah has come to Nebraska Spine Hospital for multiple surgeries over the past 15 years. She travels all the way from Ohio each time to see Dr. Fuller.

“Dr. Fuller is an excellent surgeon, a brilliant diagnostician, and a really nice person. He always treats me like a person and not just a patient. He always explains things completely and he never rushes me if I have questions.”

Deborah also thinks the nursing staff at Nebraska Spine Hospital is terrific. She believes the nurses are all supportive, friendly, and patient.

“They [the nurses] work together as a team, they support each other and they make sure that all the patients are well taken care of. I am always impressed while watching the doctors and the nurses working together for the patients. The mutual respect is visible.”

In short, the care that Deborah has received at Nebraska Spine Hospital makes the drive from Ohio worth it.

“I will quickly run out of superlatives when talking about the Nebraska Spine Hospital. If you have to have back surgery there is no place better than the Nebraska Spine Hospital.”

 
From all of us here, we’d like to thank Deborah for reaching out to us and sharing her incredible story. Our one and only goal each day is to provide every patient with the best care possible. If you would like to share your experience at Nebraska Spine Hospital, please message us on our Facebook page.

All About Scoliosis

June is all about being outdoors, summer fun, and scoliosis. Yes, you read that correctly. Did you know that June is Scoliosis Awareness Month?

Scoliosis is a spinal condition that causes a sideways curvature of the spine. It can affect both children and adults, but occurs most frequently in children during their last growth spurt before puberty.Scoliosis affects 2-3% of all adolescents. Click To Tweet

There are two different types of scoliosis, non-structural and structural. Non-structural scoliosis is where the spine itself is normal but a slight, temporary curvature appears, likely due to differences in leg length, muscle spasms, or even appendicitis. If these causes are directly treated and the curvature will likely resolve.

Structural scoliosis is often due to a structural abnormality from an injury, a neuromuscular disease, infections, or tumors. It is treated on a case-by-case basis, but treatment options include surgery, back brace, or observation.72% of children with scoliosis can avoid surgery by wearing a back brace. Click To Tweet

Now that we’ve covered what scoliosis is, it’s time to become familiar with the facts.

All About Scoliosis

  • Scoliosis is very common. According to the Scoliosis Research Society, it affects 2-3% of adolescents.
  • Treatment plans are based on the severity and progression of the curve, and is evaluated in terms of degrees of spine curvature:
    • 25° or less: no treatment required
    • 26°-45°: often treated with a back brace
    • 45° or greater: surgery typically required
  • While treatments have proven effective in lessening the degree of spine curvature, there is no cure for scoliosis.
  • Back braces have improved in effectiveness and wearability. A study found that 72% of at-risk children able to avoid surgery by wearing a back brace. Patients can wear modern braces under loose-fitting clothing and they are padded for comfort.

If left untreated, the condition will likely worsen, possibly to the point of restricting the rib cage and impacting the function of the lungs and heart. Untreated scoliosis can also lead to chronic back pain later in life.

For more information on scoliosis or to schedule an appointment, please contact us. Our doctors are proud members of the Scoliosis Research Society.

Calcium: The Key To A Healthy Spine

When you were younger, did your mom urge you to drink your milk for strong bones? She wasn’t wrong in doing so. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, with an 8 ounce serving containing about 300 milligrams.

Calcium is a key nutrient to many of your body’s functions. It supports your bone mass, heart, blood, muscles, and nerves. Calcium is absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy spine.

Sadly, it’s estimated that 70% of people aren’t getting enough calcium in their diet. When your body doesn’t get enough calcium, it steals the calcium from your bones, making them more susceptible to fractures.70% of people aren’t getting enough calcium in their diet. Click To Tweet

If you consistently don’t get enough calcium over a period of years, you’re much more likely to develop osteoporosis, a condition that affects more than 44 million people in the US over the age of 50. Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of bone mass or bone mass that has become increasingly brittle.

There are two main components to maintaining strong bones and a healthy spine: reach the recommended intake of calcium every day and consume foods that help with the absorption of calcium.

Not sure how much calcium you should be consuming? See below, the recommended daily intake of calcium varies by age.

  • Adults 25-50 years old: 1,000 milligrams per day with 400 i.u. of Vitamin D
  • Adults 50+ years old: 1,500 milligrams per day with 400-800 i.u. of Vitamin D

It is important to note that consuming more than 2,000 milligrams of calcium per day can be harmful to your kidneys and can cause kidney stones to form.

Getting Calcium Through Your Diet

It is entirely possible to consume the recommended amount of calcium per day without the need for supplements. Dairy products, especially milk, are rich in calcium, as well as dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and peas.

Vitamin D helps your body with the absorption of calcium and, unfortunately, is only naturally found in a couple of foods, including egg yolks and certain fatty fish. However, many foods like milk and cereal have been fortified with the vitamin to make reaching your daily intake easier.
While it may be easy to waive off concern about your calcium intake for later in life, for your bones’ sake it’s important to consistently get enough calcium from an early age. If you have any additional questions on how to maintain a healthy spine, please use our previous blogs as a resource and register for our monthly newsletter.

Healthy Weight, Healthier Spine

Did you know that on average, an obese person in the US spends $1,429 more annually on medical bills? This may be in part due to the fact that obesity puts you at a much higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes, among other things.

Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of developing back pain, joint pain, and muscle strains. Your risk of developing low back pain is heightened even more if you carry extra weight around your midsection as that weight pulls your pelvis forward, straining your low back. Sounds painful, doesn’t it?

Carrying around extra weight can also put unwanted pressure on other spinal structures, like your discs. Overweight and obese people are more likely to experience sciatica or low back pain due to a herniated disc or pinched nerve.

The complications of weighing in above a healthy weight are pretty bleak, but there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon. A lot of the conditions listed above can be mitigated by weight loss. In fact, losing weight can even help prevent some of these conditions altogether.

For example, losing weight drastically lowers your risk of developing osteoarthritis. This is because the added weight strains your joints more, leaving you more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis. Once the weight is lost, the stress on your joints is relieved.

The two main components of weight loss are diet and exercise. It’s important to aim for good nutrition and a balanced diet. Each person’s dietary needs vary, so it may be a good idea to consult a nutritionist when you first begin watching what you eat.

As for exercise, if you’re already suffering from back pain, it may be hard to motivate yourself to exercise regularly. What you probably don’t know is that exercise actually stimulates healing in the spine.

Physical exercise causes the discs in your spine to swell with water and then squeeze it out, exchanging nutrients between the discs and the rest of your spine. When you don’t exercise regularly, your spinal discs are deprived of the nutrients they need to function properly.

In addition to maintaining a healthy spine, regular exercise also boosts your mood, helps you sleep better at night, and helps ward off those dangerous health conditions we mentioned above, to only name a few of the benefits.

 
Of course, before you implement a new exercise program, it’s important to consult your physician. As always, feel free to reach out to us with any spine-specific questions you may have.