Your mom was right.
“Stop slouching! Sit up straight!”
Those words of well-meaning motherly advice — along with “Get some exercise!” and “Lift with your legs, not your back!”— are some of the best practices for maintaining a healthy spine throughout your life, says William McClellan, M.D., an orthopaedic spine surgeon with OrthoCincy Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine practicing at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.
And when your spine is fine, your chances of experiencing debilitating back pain diminishes.
“I do mostly spine surgery,” Dr. McClellan explains. “I cover the entire spine from cervical and thoracic into lumbar, sacrum and pelvis. The majority of surgeries I do involve adults with degenerative changes within the spine. Typically, that starts with degenerative disc disease or arthritis of the spine — the medical term is spondylosis.
“When the spine wears out and degenerates, and you develop arthritis, it often causes back and neck pain, and pain in the neurological structure involving the spinal cord and the nerves around the spine. The surgeries I do often involve taking the pressure off those nerves, helping with both the pain from arthritis and the pain running down arms and legs from the pinched nerves.”
Typically, by the time a patient meets with Dr. McClellan, they’ve already tried other noninvasive pain interventions, such as anti-inflammatories and physical therapy.
When conservative interventions don’t do the job, and the patient’s quality of life does not improve, or they are not as active as they want to be, it may be time for surgery, Dr. McClellan says. But further evaluation is required before surgery is deemed an option. Additional noninvasive pain interventions may be prescribed, such as epidural injections, radiofrequency ablation and spinal cord stimulators.
“Our focus at OrthoCincy and St. Elizabeth Healthcare is to take a multidisciplined approach to the spine. Surgery is always a last resort,” Dr. McClellan says. “We have to be confident surgery will be beneficial.”
To learn more about St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s customized orthopaedic care services or schedule a consultation, visit stelizabeth.com/medical-services/orthopaedics