Spine Surgery News
If you are overweight and experiencing back pain, there may be a simple reason: your weight. When it comes to obesity and back pain, the two go hand in hand. Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between those who have been classified as obese and an increase in back and joint pain. Therefore, if you are suffering from back pain, it may be time to shed unwanted pounds prior to undergoing treatment. Not only can extra weight exacerbate back pain, you may not be a candidate for surgery unless you lose some weight prior.
Why Do I Need To Lose Weight Prior to Surgery?
When it comes to major surgery, it is important to go in to the procedure as healthy as possible. Below are reasons why a surgeon may suggest weight loss prior to back surgery:
- Added weight may be a hindrance to recovery
- Anesthesia use may be more dangerous
- Extra weight can cause breathing issues or heart problems, both of which can make surgery riskier
Even if you are undergoing a minimally invasive procedure, ultimately, the healthier you are, the faster and easier you recover. Additionally, undergoing weight loss may result in the disappearance of pain all on its own without intervention.
How are Obesity and Back Pain Related?
Obesity and back pain are related for many reasons. It is no secret that extra weight can put a strain on your back and joints, specifically your intervertebral discs. For patients who have curvature of the spine, or scoliosis, extra pounds could make the curvature even more pronounced– and painful. Furthermore, the risk of injuring your back increases due to the strain placed on it by the added weight.
Tips for Losing Unwanted Weight Prior to Back Pain Treatment
For patients who are obese, it may be difficult to exercise for many reasons, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, not to mention the lingering back pain. However, exercise is an important part of spine and back health, as well as crucial for losing weight. The very best way to protect your back, joints and muscles is by exercising regularly. Therefore, it you are overweight and ready to start an exercise regimen prior to back surgery, here are a few low impact exercises to try that are easy on the back but effective for weight loss:
Prior to beginning an exercise program, we suggest you get approval from your spine surgeon or doctor. Your provider can help you devise a plan to protect your back and ease into exercise.
If you have been living with back pain, it may be time to seek help. Contact Pacific Spine Specialists today for a free review of your MRI results. We can determine if your condition may require surgery or not. If surgery isn’t the best option for you, we can help by referring you to a non-surgical provider.
Now that the fall season is in full swing, you are likely spending your days participating in a wide variety of fall activities. Although you may not be thinking about your back while engaging in them, you may notice an increase in back pain after the fact. Let’s take a closer look at some fall activities that can increase back pain.
4 Fall Activities That Can Increase Back Pain:
One of the best ways to enjoy the brisk fall weather and colorful leaves is to go for a hike. If you are going for a hike this fall, you should warm-up and stretch in advance. Your backpack should also be light and feature two thick shoulder straps that you wear at all times. In the event you struggle with posture, you may want to bring hiking poles with you as they can help you maintain good posture throughout the entire hike.
- Pumpkin and Apple Picking
Two of the most festive fall activities include pumpkin and apple picking. There is no better way to spend a fall day than out in the orchard or in the pumpkin patch with family and friends. Prior to participating in one or both of these activities, you should be mindful of your back. When lifting a pumpkin, bend your knees, keep your back straight, and refrain from twisting your body while the pumpkin is in your hand. Lastly, make it a priority stretch before you haul a pumpkin or pick apples as stretching will increase your flexibility and decrease your risk of back injury.
- Yard Work
On the top of the list of fall activities that can increase back pain is yard work, such as raking leaves. Raking leaves is a time-consuming, strenuous task that requires you to bend over and place a great deal of stress on your back. In order to get leaves off the ground while still keeping your back in good shape, you should perform gentle stretches and take regular breaks. If you experience any sharp pain in your back while raking, put an end to this task for the day. In addition, be sure to only lift small bags of leaves that you can easily manage.
- Household Chores
Last on the list of fall activities that can increase back pain is housework. In addition to bringing out your coats, sweaters, and blankets, you will likely spend the fall season preparing for winter and holiday house guests by performing various house chores. Whether you’re cleaning the gutters, bringing your patio or deck furniture indoors, or sealing cracks around your doors and windows, you should always stretch before, try to maintain proper posture, and avoid completing too many chores in one day.
Contact Pacific Spine Specialists
If you’d like more information on how to reduce fall back pain or if you experience a back injury this season, you should contact Pacific Spine Specialists. Dr. Timothy Keenen is an expert at diagnosing and treating conditions of the back and spine. Call us at 503-885-9391 today.
The purpose of spinal fusion surgery is to permanently join together two or more bones in the spine to prevent movement between them. Just like all surgeries, spinal fusions have the potential for complications. Fortunately, these complications are not common and should not discourage you from undergoing a spinal fusion if a surgeon believes it can improve your spine-related condition. However, it is always important to understand the risks prior to any procedure. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common spinal fusion complications.
Most Common Spinal Fusion Complications
A spine surgeon will administer general anesthesia prior to performing a spinal fusion in order to keep a patient free of pain during the procedure. In rare cases, anesthesia complications can occur and lead to brain damage, stroke, a heart attack, and even death.
Pain From the Bone Graft Site in the Pelvis
Pain at the bone graft site can be significant. This type of bone graft is rarely used. Dr. Keenen has not had an need to take a bone graft from the pelvis for over 15 years. Different types of allograft (bone bank bone) are commonly used.
Although spine surgeons take a variety of precautions to reduce the risk of infection, some patients may still develop an infection. Some of the most common symptoms of infections include pain, wounds, fevers, foul smells in the wound, and clear liquid that oozes from the incision.
Another possible spinal fusion complication is known as pseudarthrosis. Pseudoarthrosis occurs when the fusion does not heal, meaning that two or more of the spinal bones do not heal together as intended and fail to stabilize the spine. When this happens, a patient may experience pain or movement known as micromotion.
Even though the goal of spinal fusion surgery is almost always to reduce or alleviate pain, sometimes the spinal fusion is unsuccessful and pain develops, persists, or increases.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis or DVT arises when blood clots develop in one of the large veins of one or both legs. This condition may occur after a spinal fusion because the body’s clotting mechanism is working too hard to stop bleeding at the surgical site.
Contact Pacific Spine Specialists Today
If you believe are suffering from a painful, spine-related condition, a spinal fusion may be right for you. Dr. Keenen of Pacific Spine Specialists performs minimally invasive spine surgeries which use smaller incisions and leave the strong muscle fiber intact with the spine in order to reduce the risk of spinal fusion complications and ensure a safer procedure with less recovery time.
Call our office today at 503-885-9391 to schedule an appointment so that Dr. Keenen can evaluate your condition and determine whether spinal fusion surgery or another procedure is right for you.
Have you been told by your spine expert that spinal fusion surgery is right for you? If you have been living with spine pain, spinal fusion surgery may be a great option for reducing or possibly eliminating your spine pain once and for all. In fact, it can be performed on its own or in combination with other spine surgeries. However, before you make the decision to undergo spinal fusion surgery, it is important to know exactly what the procedure entails.
What is Spinal Fusion Surgery?
Spinal fusion surgery is a procedure used to join two or more vertebrae together. In many cases, it is used as a method to correct the movement between two vertebrae that are rubbing against each other and resulting in pain. During spinal fusion surgery, the two trouble vertebrae are fused together, eliminating any movement between them. In many cases, spinal fusion surgery can lead to a long-term pain resolution for the right candidate.
What Conditions Does Spinal Fusion Surgery Treat?
A spinal fusion can be used to treat a number of spine conditions, such as the conditions below. If you are suffering from one of these conditions and believe a spinal fusion may be right for you, speak with a spine expert today.
- Unstable or weak spine
- Spinal fractures
- Lumbar Spondylolisthesis
- Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
What Does a Spinal Fusion Involve?
When it comes to a spinal fusion, there are several approaches your spine surgeon may take to provide relief. However, most spinal fusion procedures involve a bone graft being applied to the affected area of the spine to form a bridge between the vertebrae and encourage new bone growth. Metal implants may be used to hold the vertebrae together until the new bones have formed. The procedure usually lasts several hours and when performed correctly, should eliminate pain immediately.
What are the Risks involved with Spinal Fusion Surgery?
As with any surgery, there are always risks involved. Before undergoing surgery, it is always important to understand the risks. The risks for spinal fusion surgery include:
- Damage to the spinal nerve resulting in weakness, loss of sensation, pain, or problem with the bowels and bladder. However, we use neuromonitoring during all fusion surgeries to minimize this risk.
- Infection of the vertebral bones or wound
- Increased wear and tear on nearby vertebra
If you would like to learn more about Spinal Fusion Surgery, we invite you to explore Pacific Spine Specialists. Dr. Timothy Keenen specializes in minimally invasive procedures, such as spinal fusions, and would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your condition. Take advantage of our free MRI review and contact us today to schedule your appointment with us.
Finding a great spine surgeon can make a significant difference in the outcome of your spinal surgery. Therefore, you should evaluate a variety of spine surgeons in your area rather than choosing the one that is closest to your home or is available to perform a surgery on a day that’s convenient for you. These tips on how to find a great spine surgeon will help you ensure you’ve chosen the right individual to treat your spine related condition.
How to Find a Great Spine Surgeon:
1. Read Reviews
Thanks to the internet, you can easily read patient reviews on different spine surgeons from the comfort of your own home. Keep in mind that the reviews a spine surgeon places on their website are likely to be all positive as their website is designed for marketing purposes. If you’d like to read honest reviews from real patients, check out third party review sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, or RateMDs.
2. Ask Your Social Network
It’s a good idea to reach out to your friends and family to find out whether they have any recommendations for a great spine surgeon. Keep in mind that you should look for overall trends when evaluating a spine surgeon so one bad review from a friend or family member shouldn’t convince you to completely dismiss a certain surgeon. Multiple bad reviews, however, should encourage you to look for someone else.
3. Check Certifications
Be sure to choose a spine surgeon who is board-certified and fellowship-trained in spinal surgery. You should also make sure that they devote the majority of their time to spinal conditions and are up-to-date with the latest developments in the field.
4. Search for a Surgeon Who Specializes in Minimally Invasive Surgeries
Many spine surgeons specialize in minimally invasive surgeries. These surgeries are highly effective and typically safer than traditional, open spine surgeries. In addition, they offer a shorter recovery period. If possible, choose a spine surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive treatments.
5. Meet with Several Surgeons
You should schedule appointments with several surgeons so that you can determine which one you believe is most qualified to perform your surgery. You will likely have a gut feeling about whether or not a surgeon is a good fit so trust your intuition.
Contact Pacific Spine Specialists Today
Dr. Timothy Keenen of Pacific Spine Specialists is a board certified and fellowship-trained spine surgeon who is highly experienced with minimally invasive spine surgeries as well as motion preservation surgeries, cervical fusion, lumbar fusion, and micro-discectomy. Call us today at 503-885-9391 to schedule a consultation for your spinal surgery.
Whiplash is a neck sprain that occurs when the neck experiences hyperextension and hyperflexion, or for those of us who don’t speak in medical terms, when the head forcefully moves backward and then forward. In most cases, whiplash is caused during car accidents, such as a rear-end collision when force from the accident propels the neck forward. Each year, it is estimated that approximately 3 million people across America are affected by whiplash.
Causes of Whiplash
Although car accidents are the leading cause of whiplash in most people, whiplash can also be caused by several other situations, such as one of the below:
- Being shaken
- A punch or blow to the head
What Happens During Whiplash
As an important part of the spine, the neck, also referred to as the cervical spine, is made up of spinal bones called vertebrae, intervertebral discs, muscles, ligaments and nerves. When whiplash occurs, the sudden impact forces the neck’s lower vertebrae one way and the upper vertebrae another way, creating an S-shaped curve. This unnatural position damages the soft tissues of the neck, such as the ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Symptoms of Whiplash
For most whiplash sufferers, the number one symptom is neck pain. However, there are other symptoms that may be present, such as the following:
- Muscle tenderness or stiffness
- Confusion and memory issues
- Blurred vision
- Ear ringing
When to Contact a Doctor for Whiplash
For most whiplash sufferers, symptoms tend to last for one to two months. In extreme cases, whiplash consequences can last up to two years. Whiplash can even be traced to other injuries, like joint, disc and ligament damage. Therefore, if you have been in an accident or suffered an injury and fear you may have whiplash, it is best to consult a spine expert. Even if your symptoms are mild, it is recommended to seek medical attention as symptoms may develop over time. Additionally, consult a doctor immediately if you experience any numbness, tingling or weakness around your neck or upper back, or if the pain spreads down to your arms or shoulders.
If you are experiencing whiplash and are looking for relief from your symptoms, contact Pacific Spine Specialists today. Dr. Timothy Keenen is an expert, board certified spine surgeon who will diagnose and make treatment recommendations or a refer you to another specialist for treatment using conservative, effective measures. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
If you are suffering from an aching back, know that you are not alone as chronic back pain is very common in the United States. While spine surgery is an option for some patients with back pain, it is not right for everyone. Keep reading to learn more about spine surgery so that you can get an idea of whether or not it makes sense for your particular situation.
The Majority of Back Pain Does Not Require Surgery
Fortunately, most patients with back pain can find relief from their back pain without surgery. Conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, ice, heat, spinal injections, and physical therapy may all help. Typically, doctors only recommend spine surgery if these conservative treatments have not been effective.
When Spine Surgery is Necessary
In order to determine whether you could benefit from spine surgery, you should schedule an appointment with the spine expert at Pacific Spine Specialists, Dr. Timothy Keenen. Dr. Keenen can diagnose the cause of your pain and provide you with treatment recommendations. If conservative treatments have not been successful in the past, surgery may be a viable option. Spine surgery may become necessary to treat pain that stems from the following sources:
- A herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal fracture or instability
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet disease
- A tumor or infection
Types of Spine Surgery
There are a variety of different spine surgeries available. Your doctor will suggest the surgery that is ideal for treating your particular pain. Here at Pacific Spine Specialists, Dr. Keenen likes to recommend minimally invasive surgery so that he can use a smaller incision and leave the strong muscle fiber intact with the spine. Although he performs other types of more invasive spine surgeries on the cervical, lumbar, and thoracic spines, he advocates minimally invasive surgery whenever possible.
Benefits of Spine Surgery
The most obvious benefit of spine surgery is relief from chronic pain. However, spine surgery offers a variety of other benefits. It can make it easier for you to move around, improve your mood and physical health, and give you the opportunity to go back to work and live a productive, more fulfilling life.
Schedule an Appointment with Pacific Spine Specialists
If you’re tired of back pain and would like to find out if spine surgery is a good choice for you, we encourage you schedule an appointment at Pacific Spine Specialists. We can be reached at 503-885-9391 and look forward to helping you find relief from your back pain.
Pain after a spine surgery is normal and expected. Often times, spine surgeons suggest the use of opioids to treat post spine surgery pain. If you are afraid to take opioids because you don’t want to become addicted or for other reasons, understand that managing pain is essential for a successful spine surgery recovery as untreated pain can lead to delayed recovery times and chronic pain. Let’s take a closer look at opioid use after spine surgery.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are powerful pain medications that alter the way pain is perceived. They attach onto molecules known as opioid receptors and send messages to the brain that are inaccurate measures of the severity of the pain that the body is actually experiencing. Their purpose is to diminish the perception of pain and help patients experience less pain. Some examples of the most common opioids include:
- Oxycodone with acetaminophen
Side Effects of Opioids
The powerful effect of opioids make them a good option for patients who have just undergone spine surgery and need to manage their pain. However, although opioids are effective, they do come with significant side effects. Nausea, drowsiness, constipation, vomiting, urinary retention, and impaired thinking skills are all side effects of opioids.
If your surgeon prescribes opioids and you experience side effects, you should let them know. A different type of pain medication or dose may reduce uncomfortable side effects and make post-surgery life easier for you.
Avoiding Opioid Addiction
Even though opioid use after surgery is a short term method to relieve pain while your body heals, addiction is still a concern. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you as well as others avoid opioid addiction if your surgeon decides that opioid use after spine surgery is right for you. Some of these strategies include:
- Taking your medication as your surgeon directed
- Not taking other drugs that your surgeon told you to stay away from while taking opioids
- Refraining from drinking alcohol while taking opioids
- Storing opioids safely
- Never sharing opioids with others
- Disposing of unused opioids
Contact Pacific Spine Specialists Today
If you are considering spine surgery or you have any questions regarding opioid use after spine surgery, do not hesitate to contact Pacific Spine Specialists today at 503-885-9391. In the event that you do need spine surgery, we’ll let you know if opioids are right for you.
When it comes time to choose a spine surgeon, it is important to be selective as not all spine surgeons are the same. In order to increase your chances of great results and a comfortable surgery, there are certain characteristics you should look for in a surgeon. Below is a brief list of the 4 most important characteristics you’ll find in the best spine surgeon.
- Spine Specific Knowledge and Training
Rather than opting for a general orthopedic or neurological surgeon, you should find a surgeon who specializes in spine surgery. They should be board certified and fellowship trained to treat neck and low back surgical conditions. Finding a surgeon who is highly experienced with minimally invasive spine procedures is also a good idea as these procedures involve smaller incisions and minimal soft tissue damage.
It’s crucial to ask a prospective spine surgeon how long they have been performing spine surgeries. You should feel comfortable with the level of experience they have with the specific spine surgery you’re considering. It’s vital that you gain an understanding of how many times the surgeon has conducted the surgery as well as the outcomes of the surgeries they’ve conducted.
- Bedside Manner and Communication
Although you don’t have to feel like your surgeon is your close friend, you should feel comfortable asking them questions. Additionally, you want to make sure you receive the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your spine surgery. Refrain from having your surgery conducted by a doctor who rushes in to meet with you, fails to provide any type of introduction, and talks down to you. Surgeons who are always in a hurry and demonstrate bad manners can be hazardous to your health.
While a spine surgeon’s medical knowledge and experience is of utmost importance when you are receiving a spine surgery, compassion is also important. Compassion is defined as the ability of a surgeon to imagine what you are going through, connect with you on an emotional level, and be motivated to address your suffering and improve your situation.
When you are searching for the best spine surgeon for you, go with your gut feeling. If you don’t have a good feeling about a surgeon, meet with others until you find one that you like and trust. You can add unnecessary stress to your spine surgery if you are not confident in your surgeon’s abilities and turned off by their personality.
Contact Dr. Keenen of Pacific Spine Specialists Today
If you are searching for the best spine surgeon in the Portland area, we invite you to visit Pacific Spine Specialists. Dr. Timothy Keenen is a board certified and fellowship trained spine surgeon who has performed thousands of simple to complex spine surgeries.
With Dr. Keenen by your side, you can find the pain relief you’ve been longing for and enjoy the peace of mind of knowing your surgery is in the hands of a compassionate, experienced, and highly trained surgeon. Call Pacific Spine Specialists today at 503-885-9391 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Keenen.
Tips to Bend Properly Post Spine Surgery
If you have been suffering from spine pain and have made the decision to undergo spine surgery, you may be left with many questions. One of these questions is likely how to bend properly after spine surgery. Bending the wrong way could result in pain, or worse, further injury, causing a setback in your healing process.
Even if you opted for a minimally invasive procedure, it is still important to take precautionary measures post surgery, such as making sure to bend properly. If you follow the steps below and all goes according to plan, you should be as good as new in no time. However, remember that healing takes time, so follow the instructions of your surgeon and ease back into activities once given the go ahead.
Recovery from Spine Surgery
Recovery from spine surgery may require you to learn to sit, stand, and walk in a new manner. To ensure a proper recovery, prior to spine surgery, get your home ready by installing handrails, removing loose throw rugs, and adding a few mechanical “grabbers” to aid in reaching items from the floor or shelves. Following your spine surgery, a therapist from the hospital will begin physical therapy prior to discharge. Keep in mind that you may continue to experience radiating pain in your hips, knees or shoulders for a short time post surgery while you and your body figure out how to move with a tender spine.
While the goal of spine surgery is help the patient regain flexibility, immediately following surgery it is important not to bend. However, since bending is a large part of our daily activity — to tie shoes, stir a pot, open the car door, even to go up steps — it is important to learn how to bend properly after surgery.
4 Tips to Bend Properly After Surgery
- Tip 1: Bend with your knees. When the time comes that you must pick something up off the floor, crouch down by bending at your knees. First, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart for stability, then bend just your knees and slowly lower yourself down while keeping your spine straight and upright.
- Tip 2: Put on socks in a recline position. If you can’t get away with going sockless after surgery, it is suggested to put on your socks while in the reclining position. Lay back on your bed, draw your knee to your chest, and carefully reach down to slip socks on over your feet.
- Tip 3: Pivot instead of twist. Twisting your spine may cause pain post surgery. Therefore, try pivoting when you need to turn your upper body. Expert tip, rotate on your foot to turn your whole body to where you need to be. This may take some getting used to, but your spine will thank you.
- Tip 4: Keep good posture: When standing at your kitchen or bathroom counter, resist the urge to bend or hunch over. One way to avoid hunching is to stand as close to the counter as you can while keeping your back straight. If you tend to lean over the sink while brushing your teeth, open the cabinet under the sink and put your foot on the cabinet ledge, which helps you keep your back straight while you brush.
The tips above are meant to help reduce spine pain through bending properly, however it is always suggested to speak with your spine expert and follow their suggestions for healing.