Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a MRI considered the gold standard for diagnosis of Spine disorders?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine uses radio waves, a magnetic field and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the spine and surrounding tissues that are clearer and more detailed than other imaging methods. The exam does not use ionizing radiation and may require an injection of a contrast material called gadolinium, which is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than iodinated contrast material.

Tell your doctor about any health problems, recent surgeries or allergies and whether there’s a possibility you are pregnant. The magnetic field is not harmful, but it may cause some medical devices to malfunction. Most orthopaedic implants pose no risk, but you should always tell the technologist if you have any devices or metal in your body. Guidelines about eating and drinking before your exam vary between facilities. Unless you are told otherwise, take your regular medications as usual. Leave jewellery at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown.

Claustrophobia and MRI:
Common methods used to help with claustrophobia during an MRI exam:

  • Music: Music not only masks the loud sounds of an MRI, but it can also help you relax
  • Meditation and Breathing: Deep breathing, visualization, meditation and prayer can all help you relax
  • Special viewing arrangements: – Instead of staring at the tube or shutting your eyes, a plastic cage with a small mirror that fits over your head will allow you to see what is directly in front of you. This arrangement depends on whether the centre can make provisions for it.
  • Family Support: As long as a consent form is signed, a family member can be in the room with you as a source of comfort and to take your mind off the test
  • Sedative: Your doctor may prescribe Xanax or Valium for you to take 30 to 40 minutes before your MRI to calm your nerves
  • Open MRI: An open MRI has more space, a shorter tube and all four sides are open. Likewise, an open upright MRI is completely open so you can see out while you’re seated. Since the type of MRI depends on what your doctor needs to see, you may not always have an option. The image quality is not the same as a closed conventional MRI, therefore, check with your doctor before going for an open MRI exam.

What Mattress and pillows should I use for my back and neck?

Medium-firm memory foam mattresses seem to be the best for those suffering back pain. Unlike innerspring mattresses, memory foam contours the entire body without any gaps. Most often, medium-firm mattresses let the spine rest in a natural, comfortable position. Pillow top mattresses have above-average initial comfort. Tops that include memory foam tend to have above average (back) pain-relief potential and conforming ability.

Fluffy pillows that give adequate support to your head, neck and shoulders should be used. Make sure the head does not tilt a lot when sleeping sideways. Use two pillows if necessary.

Are calcium supplements a treatment for spine disorders?

Calcium helps build strong bones but is not a treatment for spine disorders. Dietary calcium is considered safe, but too much calcium in the form of supplements might have some health risks. Ask your doctor how and when to take calcium supplements.

Can I workout with back pain?

Exercise is almost always good for people of any age, Exercise can help make you stronger, prevent bone loss, improve balance and coordination, lift your mood, boost your memory, and ease the symptoms of many chronic conditions.

One of the main functions of the spine is to enable a various range of movements. As we age and degeneration happens our movement gets affected. Spine surgeries and other invasive procedures are done to restore stability and movement capabilities. One of the ways surgeries can be avoided or better surgical outcomes are seen when people of any age workout and keep themselves active through movement.

Therefore it is important to push yourself within pain limits even if you have back pains to strengthen the supporting structures of the spine. Please consult your doctor for the kind of exercises you should do and avoid to prevent injuries.

Can we play professional and recreational sports with spine injuries?

You will be surprised to know that every professional athlete suffer from multiple orthopedic injuries including the spine even when they are their peak performance stage. Sports is harsh to our body and due to high impact the bones and joints often wear and tear sooner than the non-athletic population.

Injuries are a regular feature for a sportsman but it is possible to manage these injuries conservatively so that they can play in top form. Rehabilitation, Nerve root blocks, and other minimally invasive techniques have helped battle spine injuries of athletes and prolong their career.

What are the chances of Spine surgery causing paralysis?

Paralysis is an uncommon, but serious, complication that can occur as a result of any surgery involving the nerves. Nerve injuries and paralysis can be caused by a number of different problems, including bleeding inside the spinal column (extradural spinal haematoma). With any surgery, there is a risk of complications, such as blood clots, allergic reactions and infection.

Yet one of the most feared complications of spine surgery—paralysis—is also one of the least likely to occur. That’s because most common spine surgeries don’t involve the spinal cord and with advanced medical techniques and minimally invasive procedures, nerve damages are the least of the worry. Again each case’s risk is subject to the condition of the patient.

Will wearing a belt will help with spine pain?

Back belts are mostly advised to help tighten the core area and minimize movement and jerks to prevent additional injuries especially during traveling. Workers and employers should redesign the work environment and work tasks to reduce lifting hazards, rather than rely solely on back belts to prevent injury.

Does Nerve root blocks eliminate pain permanently?

Most often Nerve root blocks are administered to patients with some nerve compression due to spine disorders. The root blocks are steroid medications that reduce the inflammation around the nerves in the spine thus helping in pain relief such that patients can concentrate on rehabilitation and physiotherapy to treat the cause of the pain. There could be some residual pain even after a nerve block as the cause of the pain requires further treatment. Consult your doctor to know about the possible risks and side effects of root blocks.

What is the difference between spine surgeon and a neurosurgeon?

Fellowship trained and board certified orthopaedic spine surgeons, and neurosurgeons are equally qualified. However, the main difference is in the training. A Neurosurgeon is trained to treat conditions of the brain and spine, while an orthopaedic spine surgeon specializes in treating the spine.

Is yoga good for spine?

While yoga isn’t a good idea if you have severe pain, those with occasional soreness or chronic aches may greatly benefit from certain postures that can help lengthen your spine, stretch and strengthen your muscles, and return your back to its proper alignment. Please consult your doctor to understand when and what exercise to avoid if you have been experiencing back and neck pain.

What is the difference between Physiotherapy and rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is the process of returning something to its original condition. The word literally means “make fit again.” When it comes to workers’ comp injuries, the terms rehab and physical therapy are sometimes used interchangeably. But they do have different meanings.

Differences between Rehab and Physical Therapy

Rehabilitation, or rehab, is a broad term. In medicine, it can refer to any type of comprehensive treatment program. That might be:

  • Substance abuse recovery
  • Re-learning daily living and/or speech skills after a stroke
  • Regaining physical strength after an accident at work or outside of work
  • Learning new ways of moving or performing tasks
  • Physical therapy is just one type of rehab that may be part of a patient’s recovery plan.

What Is Physical Therapy?

As the word implies, a physical therapist focuses on bodily strength and movement. To help patients recover from injuries, they may perform a musculoskeletal examination. They will consider the patient’s musculoskeletal pathology. Then they work with the patient’s physician to develop a personalized treatment plan. Treatment may combine exercises to build strength and range of motion with pain-relieving techniques. It helps reduce pain in joints and/or muscles. It is often used to treat tendinitis, bursitis, neck and low back pain. Some physical therapists also use ultrasound or acupuncture to treat patients. So rehab and physical therapy are not exactly the same. But if you refer to “work-related rehab,” everyone knows you’re talking about physical therapy.

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