Conyers office - Get directions

Decatur office- Get directions

Surgery Center - Get directions

McDonough office: - Get directions

Sandy Springs office: - Get directions

Make an Appointment

Or call: 678-369-6934

Send us an email

Blog Archives - Atlanta Spine Clinic


Conyers office - Get directions

Decatur office- Get directions

Surgery Center - Get directions

McDonough office: - Get directions

Sandy Springs office: - Get directions

Make an Appointment

Or call: 678-369-6934

Send us an email

How to Prevent Your Home Office From Harming Your Back

While telecommuting has been slowly growing for years, COVID-19 introduced working from home to a large sector of the world in 2020. One study estimates that 81% of the global workforce experienced some kind of workplace change due to COVID-19 safety measures, and telecommuting was certainly a big part of that. 

How is it working out?

Working from home has brought some advantages. People have been able to avoid the commute drain and spend more time with loved ones. They’ve spent less money eating out and drinking lattes. 

However, there are drawbacks — including to many individuals’ physical well-being.

The Catch: A Pain in the Neck (and Back)

Medical professionals have noticed a recurring trend as folks spend prolonged amounts of time in home offices: back, neck, and shoulder pain. These musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders are often linked to spinal misalignment. 

It makes sense, of course. Most of us weren’t prepared to work at home for over a year — and it’s not over yet. What started out as an improvised situation has become the norm, but many people’s homes simply aren’t designed for daily 9-5 work.

Many modern offices equip their employees with ergonomic equipment with good reason — the benefits are too numerous to ignore. But when you were suddenly asked to work from home, what did you turn to? Kitchen tables and counters? Couches? Beds? 

Even the fortunate with a home office didn’t have space for multiple remote working family members, from parents to students. Somebody got the office, and somebody had to clear the bar. Unfortunately, many of these makeshift set-ups offer little back, arm, or wrist support.

Are you reading this on a laptop now? You’re likely working from home on a laptop, too. This means hunching or craning your neck to see the low screen. Not ideal.

But furniture is just one problem. Although commutes might’ve been annoying, at least they got us moving out of the house. Popping down to the building coffeeshop gave you five minutes to stretch your legs. Now, your built-in everyday activity might consist of a <1 minute walk from the bed to the couch.

You might also fall into the trap of overworking at home. Without location change, the boundaries of work and life can easily blur. On top of all of this, gyms, yoga studios, and many group forms of exercise have been shut down for months. And the aches and pains of lockdown start to add up. 

Fighting Back against Home Office Back Pain

Since working from home will likely persist for much of 2021 — at the least — what can you do cope? 

Hack Your Home Office

The goods news: solutions to upper and lower back pain abound. And many are inexpensive and straightforward.

Start by reconfiguring your home office set-up. You’re trying to meet a few simple standards.

  • Make your eye-line level with your computer monitor. Our heads are the heaviest part of our body. Tipping your cranium forward too far can strain the neck. This filters down into shoulder and upper back tension. You’ll hear the phrase “text neck” tossed around to describe this uncomfortable state.

For a laptop, it’s easiest to connect an external keyboard and mouse. Then you’re free to raise the screen height. That process can be lo-fi and cheap, like putting an Amazon box or encyclopedia underneath your laptop.

  • Get your elbows as close to 90 degrees as possible when typing. You also want your wrists to feel relaxed and straight. You don’t have to buy a whole new chair, desk, or table to do this. Adjust what you can. That could mean sitting up on a cushion to match a low chair to a high work surface, or vice versa.
  • Watch your angles. Leaning forward often places more strain on the lower back and compresses your hip flexors. Hip flexors are the muscles you feel along the front of your hip when you do a runner’s lunge. When they’re tight, it can pull your spine out of its natural, curved balance.

Put your computer at a distance where you can lean back a little to take pressure off your back and hip flexors. If you’re using a concave chair, put a pillow or two behind your lower back to encourage its natural curve.

Move with Mindfulness

You can adapt your lifestyle to counter chronic pains. Set a timer to remind you to take a walk. Shoot for sitting intervals of 15, 30, or (at maximum) 45 minutes. It may feel a little contrived at first, but it’s an easy habit to keep once you feel the benefits.

And who says you have to stick to walking? At least once a day, make an effort to do some extended exercise. This could be a yoga video, cycling session, putting on soul music to dance around the living room… whatever. It doesn’t need to be intense. The point is to maintain simple mobility. Small work adds up.

You can also try stretches that alleviate specific aches and pains. Wrist circles feel soothing, and they can be done covertly during Zoom meetings. Child’s pose, thread-the-needle, and simple spinal twists help un-knot shoulders. Head tilts soothe a tired neck. Even five seconds of looking at the ceiling every few minutes can make a difference.

Reach Out to Spinal Professionals

Remember, a relaxed, healthy spine forms the foundation of a relaxed, healthy you. If you are suffering from serious, chronic back pain even after making these changes, it may be worth consulting with one of the medical professionals at Atlanta Spine Clinic.

Conditions That Can Cause Back Pain in Women

Women are more likely to experience back pain than men. Worse, back pain is more likely to become chronic in women than in men. 

Why? There are a lot of reasons, but one is that several conditions that more commonly occur in women can cause back pain.

If you are experiencing back pain, seek out  the help of a professional to diagnose the root cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan.

Piriformis Syndrome

Your piriformis muscle is a large muscle deep in the buttock. Spasms in this muscle are more common in women due to hormone and pregnancy-related changes of the pelvis.

When this muscle contracts, it can irritate or compress the sciatic nerve, causing symptoms similar to sciatica

Symptoms include: 

  • Pain when you get out of bed in the morning
  • Chronic pain in the hip and buttocks area that worsens with movement of the hips
  • Inability to sit in the same position for a long time
  • Pain that radiates down your thigh and leg
  • Improved symptoms when you lie on your back

Sacroiliac Joint Problems

Your sacroiliac (SI) joint connects the bottom of your spine to your pelvis. SI joint problems are some of the most common causes of lower back pain, and are actually more common in men than in women.

In women, however, the surface area of the SI joint is smaller. This means that stresses across the joint are increased. Because the pelvis is also wider, more uneven, and tilted back, it puts even more pressure on your SI joint.

Common symptoms of SI joint dysfunction include: 

  • Lower back pain
  • Dull or aching pain directly over the buttock, which can occasionally flare into a sharp, radiating pain
  • Pain that increases when you sit, lay on the affected side, or climb stairs

Spinal Osteoarthritis

The joints of your spine are subjected to a lot of wear and tear, and the vertebrae can become damaged over time. The risk of spinal osteoarthritis is increased in women, and further increases with age or obesity. 

Spinal osteoarthritis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the upper or lower back 
  • Pain in the groin, buttocks, and thighs
  • Increased back stiffness and pain in the morning 
  • Occasional flares of severe pain
  • Pain that is worsened when external pressure is applied
  • Pain that is relieved when you bend the spine forward

Degenerative Spondyloisthesis (DS)

This mouthful is latin for “slipped vertebral body.” It occurs when one vertebrae slips forward over the one below it. This occurs as a result of the general aging process, which causes the bones, joints, and ligaments of the spine to weaken.

DS is more common in women, especially after menopause. Decreased estrogen levels increase degradation of vertebral discs and loosen the ligaments that hold vertebrae together, causing overall spinal instability. 

DS can also occur as a result of osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones, which is common in postmenopausal women.

DS can cause the following symptoms: 

  • Lower back pain that radiates to your legs
  • Increased pain while walking 
  • Decreased pain when you lean forward
  • A tired feeling down the legs after standing for a long period of time or walking 
  • Decreased pain while sitting
  • Decreased flexibility in the lower back

Tailbone Pain and Injuries

Pain in your tailbone, which is the tail end of your spine, occurs largely because of trauma. Lasing pain from tailbone trauma is more common in women than men due to differences in the shape and angle of the pelvis. Tailbone injuries can also occur during childbirth. 

The tailbone is the weight-bearing support when you sit, so an injury to this region can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain when sitting down, especially on hard surfaces
  • Increased pain from leaning partly backwards while sitting
  • Standing up from a seated posture
  • Pain that is abruptly relieved when you stand up


Endometriosis is a gynecological condition that exclusively affects women. The endometrium is the tissue that lines your uterus, and is shed during menstruation. 

In endometriosis, tissue similar to the endometrium grows outside of your uterus, most commonly in the ovaries and tissue lining the pelvis. This condition is often very painful, and can manifest as back pain.

Common symptoms of endometriosis include: 

  • Increased pain during the menstrual period, with pelvic pain and cramping beginning several days before the period, and extending several days into the period
  • Pain when moving your bowels or urinating
  • Heavy periods
  • Lower back pain, especially during menstruation 

Because this is a gynecological condition rather than a direct result of spinal damage, it’s best to first consult a gynecologist if you suspect endometriosis.

Spinal Osteoporosis Fractures

Osteoporosis occurs when there is a higher rate of bone loss compared to bone formation, resulting in decreased bone density and increased susceptibility to fractures. 

Osteoporosis is most common in postmenopausal women, and may be due to decreases in estrogen following menopause. 

Osteoporosis itself can cause small compression fractures in the spine. This can cause the following symptoms: 

  • Acute localized pain, most commonly in the mid-back or region between the mid- and lower back. The onset of the pain will be sudden, and may occur after a fall or other stress on the spine.
  • Pain that radiates to the front of your body, and can be confused with heart or lung problems

A fracture of the spine can be a medical emergency, so if you are experiencing these symptoms, get emergency medical attention.

Reluctance to Seek Help

It may come as no surprise that women have a higher pain tolerance than men, so are less likely to seek out help for back pain. This means that regardless of the cause of back pain, the condition can become more severe due to women’s reluctance to seek out help.

If you are experiencing back pain, we can help diagnose its root cause, giving you a higher chance at relieving debilitating chronic pain and improving your quality of life. Call us at 678-369-6934 or fill out our online appointment request form to get started.

Things That Can Make Your Back Pain Worse

Living with back pain isn’t easy, but it’s also fairly common. As many as 8 in 10 Americans will deal with back pain at some point in their lives according to the American Chiropractic Association. 

This leaves many people searching for ways that they can help improve the pain they’re experiencing. Unfortunately, many of the everyday things you do may actually make your back pain worse without you realizing it.

What makes back pain worse? Here are just a few problematic behaviors and what you can do to avoid them and relieve your pain.

Being Sedentary

You know the phrase “use it or lose it”? Well, being a couch potato can lead to something called muscle disuse syndrome, causing muscles to lose endurance and strength. In the end, this makes the muscles that support your back less efficient, and doing simple tasks will take more work.

Weak muscles can also lead to falls, and those falls can lead to even less movement and more pain. It’s a giant snowball effect that can be remedied by simply getting more movement in your day. Starting very small, such as walking for five or 10 minutes, can be just what you need to jumpstart more activity and get your back feeling better.

Talk to your doctor about safe and effective exercise you can do to help improve your back pain and get your body moving once again.

Eating an Unhealthy Diet

Food, at its most basic, is fuel for your body. If you fuel your body with saturated fat and refined sugar, then you’re not giving it what it needs to work optimally. In fact, a poor diet will make your body less efficient, moving more tiresome, and pain worse.

Researchers are still working to understand the link between diet and pain, but what they know so far is that supplying your body with foods that can cause inflammation — such as high-fat, high-sugar foods — will only make the pain worse.

The key to using diet to help manage your back pain is to aim for balance. Make sure you eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your diet, and drink plenty of water, too — because pain perception can be worse if you’re dehydrated. 

You don’t have to go to extremes either. It’s okay to have a cheeseburger or a piece of cake every once in a while. The key to eating healthy is to make sure you enjoy everything in moderation, and make the bulk of what you eat each day whole foods that aren’t highly processed.


Stress is an unavoidable part of life. But if you don’t find a healthy outlet for it, you may find that your existing back pain gets worse. That’s because stress can cause anxiety, tense muscles, and agitation, all of which contribute to feelings of more intense pain.

The reason? When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This “stress hormone” can make inflammation worse and lead to more intense feelings of pain.

To deal with stress and keep it from making your back pain worse, you should practice techniques proven to help. Meditation, deep breathing, exercise, or simply jamming out to your favorite album can help you to relax and calm down when you’re feeling stressed.

Reducing stress can have a positive impact on your pain, both emotionally and physically, so find a way that works for you to shrug off the daily stresses of life and see how much better you feel – but don’t stress yourself out about it!


You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking, but that doesn’t mean smoking isn’t still one of the worst things you can do for your overall health and wellness — especially if you suffer from back pain.

Many studies have found that smoking makes chronic pain worse. Specifically, it will make the pain you’re already experiencing more intense. 

Just as bad, it increases the likelihood that you’ll develop chronic pain to begin with. The National Institutes of Health report that people who smoke are three times more likely to develop back pain chronically than those who don’t.

Why? Nicotine and tobacco reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your muscles. Your muscles need oxygen in order to function optimally and efficiently. Smoking will lead to fatigue and lung disorders and make it more difficult for your body to do what it was made to do — heal itself.

The solution to this problem is simple: stop smoking. Of course, if you’re a smoker, you know that’s easier said than done. Luckily, there’s a lot of help available to assist you in quitting. Talk to your doctor about how to get started.

Doing Too Much

Wait, didn’t an earlier item on the list say that being too sedentary was bad? Now being too active is a bad thing? We know — it’s confusing. If you suffer from chronic back pain, you essentially need to find the “Goldilocks Zone”: be active enough that your back pain doesn’t get worse without overdoing it and risking further injury.

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be.

Basically, when you suffer from chronic back pain, you need to make sure you do a steady level of activity each day. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling great some days and “meh” on others — never push yourself too much.

Otherwise, you risk overdoing it and setting yourself up for several days of painful recovery. If you have a goal of losing weight or becoming more fit, pace yourself and increase the strenuousness of your workout only incrementally. Not sure whether a particular activity might be too much for your back? Talk to your doctor first.

At Atlanta Spine Clinic, we understand the challenges of living with chronic back pain. Contact us for help to get you started on your road to recovery.

Exercises and Stretches to Prevent and Relieve Back Pain 

Back pain can make you want to sit down on the couch and cancel your gym membership — but don’t get too comfortable. Rest can actually make back pain worse. In contrast, gentle, intentional movement to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the back (and throughout the body) can help to assist the muscles as they perform everyday tasks like standing, lifting, and walking and ultimately relieve back pain. 

If you have been experiencing back pain, try these different stretches and exercises to help your body out. They can all be performed at home (many on the floor!). 

Dynamic Stretches to Prevent and Relieve Back Pain 

Dynamic stretches bridge the gap between exercising and stretching. Instead of a still, “static” stretch, dynamic stretches involve movement. They help to ease the body into exercise by waking up the muscles. 

Dynamic Neck Stretches 

The neck is part of the spine, and easily becomes stiff after a day of texting and staring at a computer. Gently stretch the neck to loosen up the muscles and prevent pain throughout the upper back. 

Start by gently shaking your head “no” a few times, then “yes” a few times. Sit or stand straight. Inhale, bringing your right ear toward your right shoulder. Exhale, tuck your chin into your chest. Inhale, bring your left ear toward your left shoulder. Exhale, tuck your chin into your chest. Repeat. 

Cat-Cow Stretches

You might recognize this move from a Yoga class. It’s a great way to get the back stretching and the body moving. 

Start by moving into a “tabletop” position, or “all-fours.” Place your hands underneath your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Inhale, drop your belly, and lift your eyes to the sky. Move your shoulders away from your ears while you do so. On your exhale, reverse the motion: arch your back, tuck your chin into your chest, and push the Earth away. Continue to move through these two motions, matching your breath to your movement. Circle your hips, tuck your toes, or shake your head “yes” and “no” if that feels good! 

Leg Swings 

Every part of your body is connected. Swinging your legs to warm up may not use your back and core, but it can seriously help to prevent tight leg muscles, which can help to prevent back pain. Tight quads and calves pull your pelvis down and increase the arch in your lower back. Keep these muscles loose to encourage proper posture. 

Leg swings are as easy as they sound. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, next to something that you can hold. With your back straight, start to swing your leg forward. As the body warms up, you’ll be able to swing higher and use your full range of motion. 

Exercises To Prevent and Relieve Back Pain 

Now, the fun part: exercise! 


Obtain good posture and lift more by strengthening the back extensor muscles. “Supermans” can help you do that with just a mat and your body. 

Lie face-down on the mat, reaching your arms in front of you. Lift your hands and feet, keeping six inches between them. Reach a little higher, even trying to lift your belly off of the floor. Keep your neck extended and your eyes looking down to the floor. Hold for two rounds of breaths, then release. 


Strengthening the glutes and hamstrings gives the quads less work to do. A simple bridge exercise can help to strengthen these lower muscles and also strengthen the core. 

Lie on the ground with the soles of your feet planted on the floor. Extend your arms to your side and walk your feet in until your fingers make contact with your heels. Press your feet into the ground and squeeze your glutes, lifting your hips to the sky. Keep your shoulders and arms planted on the ground. Hold for two rounds of breaths, then release. 


A strong core supports your back and prevents pain. Good, old-fashioned curl-ups can help. Stay in the same starting position as the bridge exercise, but place your hands behind your head. Keeping the neck in line with the spine, squeeze the abdominal muscles and lift the head and shoulders two inches of the floor. Hold, then release. 

Static Stretches to Prevent and Relieve Back Pain 

As you start to cool down the body, ease into stillness with static stretches. Hold each stretch for five rounds of breaths.


Lengthen the lower back by hugging one knee into your chest at a time. This is best performed while lying down on the ground. Hold for a few rounds of breaths, then switch sides. 

Seated Forward Fold 

This is another popular stretch in yoga. Sit up straight, extending your legs out in front of you. Continue to keep the back straight as you lean forward, aiming to bring your chest toward your knees. (Feel free to bend your knees or use a strap to assist you!) On your inhales, focus on lengthening the spine. On your exhales, fold a little deeper. 

Quad Stretch 

Don’t neglect your quads after your workout! Simply stretch your quad by standing up straight and bending one leg, bringing your foot toward your glute. Hold onto your foot, keeping your posture straight. Hold for two rounds of breaths, then release and repeat with the other leg. 

If simple exercises and other changes are still causing serious issues, do not be afraid to reach out to spine experts for help. 

Suffering from Middle or Upper Back Pain? What to Know

At some point in your life, you’re likely to experience middle or upper back pain to some degree. In some cases, it might go away on its own or with conservative home treatments. In other cases, middle and upper back pain requires medical or surgical intervention to resolve.

If you’re suffering from middle upper back pain, here’s what to know regarding symptoms, possible causes, treatment options, and likely prognosis. 

What Is Middle and Upper Back Pain?

Upper back pain occurs below the neck and above the ribs, in a region known as the thoracic spine. There are 12 vertebrae in this region — the T1 to T12 vertebrae. 

When the bones, muscles, ligaments, and disks in this region are injured or disrupted, this can irritate the nerves of the spine, causing back pain.

How You Might Experience Middle or Upper Back Pain

Everyone experiences upper back pain differently, and your exact symptoms will depend on the cause of your pain. 

You might experience the following symptoms in your mid/upper back region:

  • Muscle aches
  • Dull pain
  • Sharp or stabbing pain
  • Muscle stiffness or tension

More severe and serious symptoms of upper back pain include: 

  • Tingling, numbness, or pain in the legs, arms, or chest
  • Chest pain (be sure to rule out heart problems such as a heart attack immediately in this case)
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Middle or Upper Back Pain Causes

Your upper back pain could be due to an injury, or could be occurring due to a combination of several different chronic factors. 

Poor Posture

Repeated pressure on the spine, such as that exerted by poor posture, can ultimately lead to back pain. 

When you slouch in your chair, such as during prolonged computer work, the muscles and ligaments in your back are hard at work to accommodate the pressure on your spine. Overworking these muscles can lead to aches and pains in the mid/upper back. 


Obesity increases the pressure on the bones and ligaments of the spine, and studies have shown that increased body mass is linked to increased back pains of all kinds, including neck pain, mid/upper back pain, and lower back pain.

Sprain or Strain

A sprain is caused by tearing or stretching injuries of your ligaments, while a strain is caused by similar injuries to the muscles or tendons. 

Regular lifting of heavy objects, especially without proper form or safety precautions, can lead to these sorts of injuries. 

Fall or Other Sudden Injury

In a fall, the middle back is less likely to be injured than the cervical spine (neck) or lumbar spine (lower back). This is because the thoracic spine (mid back) is more structured and rigid than these other regions.  

However, injuries to this location can occur after severe impacts, such as in the following accidents: 

  • Hard fall, such as down stairs or from a height
  • Auto accident
  • Blunt force trauma, such as in a construction accident
  • Sports accident

Herniated Disc

Gel-like discs of cartilage sit between the vertebrae of your back, which serve to cushion the joints. Damage to these discs, known as a herniated disc, can put pressure on nerve endings, resulting in pain, tingling, or numbness that might radiate out to the limbs. 

Diagnosing the Cause of Your Middle or Upper Back Pain

If your mid/upper back pain is severe, or has lasted more than a couple of weeks, it’s time to head to the doctor to see what might be going on. 

A doctor will take your full medical history, including any recent accidents or injuries, and perform a physical exam. He or she will then likely order neurological and imaging tests based on these findings.

Imaging studies produce images of the inside of your body, allowing the doctor to identify potential areas of tissue damage or inflammation. Neurological tests examine the function of the brain and spinal cord, and can help the doctor identify functional defects.

Treatment Solutions for Your Middle or Upper Back Pain 

Middle or upper back pain is debilitating, and can impair your ability to do your job, or simply to enjoy and complete daily activities. Fortunately, a number of treatment strategies can be used to reduce pain, and potentially to restore function in the region for a full recovery. 

We will evaluate your case and determine the best course of treatment for your upper back pain. The correct treatment will depend on the root cause of your pain and the severity of your injury or symptoms. 

Supportive Care

Sometimes, we’re best off letting the body heal itself. Supportive at-home care can help mild injuries resolve on their own. 

At-home care could include:

  • Alternated cold and warm compresses
  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen 
  • Exercises such as yoga to stretch and strengthen the back muscles

Medical Treatments

If you back pain is severe, or persists after supportive care, your doctor might recommend one of the following medical treatments: 

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Steroid injections
  • Prescription painkillers or muscle relaxers for short-term use


If non-invasive medical treatments don’t sufficiently relieve your back pain, surgical interventions could be the best treatment option.

The correct surgical intervention will depend on the root cause of your upper back pain. This can range from minimally invasive spine surgery to disc replacements to more complex surgical procedures. 

If you find yourself suffering from middle or upper back pain, it’s best to get the help of a professional as soon as possible. This will avoid further injury to the area, and allow you to address the root cause of your pain before it becomes a chronic, ongoing issue. 

Reach out to schedule a consultation so that we can evaluate your case and help you select the best treatment approach for you.

What Causes Bone Spurs to Form?

Despite their painful-sounding name, most bone spurs actually don’t cause any symptoms or pain. In many cases, you might not even know you have any until an x-ray for an unrelated condition reveals them. 

However, when a bone spur does begin to disrupt the surrounding tissue, it can cause significant pain and loss of mobility. If you’ve begun to experience joint stiffness or weakness in your limbs, bone spurs could be to blame. 

Once they are diagnosed, there are a number of treatment options that can be used to alleviate the symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

What are Bone Spurs and What Causes Them?

A bone spur, also known as an osteophyte, is a smooth, hard bump of extra bone that slowly forms on the ends of bones. Their formation is much more common after age 60, but younger adults can also experience them in some cases. 

Bone spurs most commonly occur at joints, where two bones meet. They are most often caused by inflammation to that area. For example, due to osteoarthritis or tendonitis. 

Chronic inflammation at the joint stimulates osteoblasts, the cells that form new bone tissue, to deposit bone tissue in that area, eventually leading to a bony projection, or bone spur. 

In rare cases, they can occur due to congenital conditions that you’re born with. For example, an osteochondroma.

Common Locations for Bone Spurs

Bone spurs most commonly form around the joints, where two bones meet. This can happen anywhere in the body, but they are most common in your: 

  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Shoulders
  • Spine
  • Neck
  • Hips
  • Knees

Generally, inflammation in the joint or surrounding connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) in these areas causes bone spurs to pop up. 

Bone Spur Signs and Symptoms

Most bone spurs take many years to form, and — as mentioned above — you might not ever experience symptoms. However, if the spurs begin to rub against your bones or nerves, you could feel pain or stiffness in the area. 

The exact symptoms you’ll experience depend on the location of the bone spur:


Your shoulder joint is able to move in many different directions due to its complex structure. This also invites formation of bone spurs, which could cause pain, stiffness, and weakness in your shoulder. 


Bone spurs in the spine usually form between the vertebrae. This can cause stiffness and pain in the back. If the nerves encased by the spinal column are affected, spinal spurs can also cause radiating pain, weakness, or tingling into the limbs. 


Bone spurs in the neck, or cervical spine, commonly form between vertebrae. This can result in aching or dull pain in the neck, which can worsen with activity. You could also experience headaches, reduced mobility, or radiating pain into your arm.


Spurs that form in the joints of the fingers are easier to see than in many other locations. You might notice that the joints in your fingers are knobby, and begin to experience stiffness, swelling, and pain at the affected joints. 


Bone spurs in the feet form on the heel, and can cause severe symptoms, such as a sharp pain when you first stand up in the morning, and a dull ache in the heel through the rest of the day. You might also be able to see a small, bony protrusion under the heel. 


Hip bone spurs can make it painful to move your hip, although you might actually experience the pain in the knee. Depending on their location on the joint, hip spurs can also reduce your hip’s range of motion.


The most common symptom of bone spurs in the knee is pain when you extend and bend your knee. 

Risk Factors and Underlying Conditions That Cause Bone Spurs

A number of underlying conditions can cause spur formation: 


Osteoarthritis is by far the most common cause of bone spurs in any location in the body. This is arthritis caused by long-term wear and tear on the joints. It’s most common in adults over the age of 60, but can occur earlier if a joint has been damaged by repetitive use.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus can also cause bone spurs. In these conditions, spurs still tend to become more common with age, but can pop up in younger adults. 

Acute Injury

Spurs can also form after a joint or tendon is injured, such as in a sports injury or auto accident. The natural healing process for these injuries can sometimes stimulate excess bone growth as the body attempts to heal.

Other risk factors for bone spurs include: 

  • Overuse — for example frequent running, dancing, or horseback riding over a long period of time
  • Genetic predisposition 
  • Diet, especially if you have certain food allergies and continue to eat these foods
  • Obesity
  • Narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis)
  • Degenerative disc disease

Bone Spur Treatment Options

The approach to treatment for bone spurs will depend on the severity of the spur, the severity of the symptoms, and the affected joint.

Conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and injections can help alleviate the pain and loss of mobility associated with bone spurs, and also decrease the underlying inflammation.

In severe cases, spurs can be removed through surgical procedures. This treatment option is more invasive, so is most commonly for severe cases where other treatment options haven’t been effective. 

If you are experiencing pain or stiffness that you think could be caused by a bone spur today, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bhatti at Atlanta Spine. Our team will identify the root cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan to improve your quality of life. 

How Do You Know If You Have a Pinched Nerve?

When compressed, nerves send signals to the brain that could result in pain. “Compressed” nerves are more commonly known as pinched nerves. It only takes a slight change in the configuration of your nerves to cause a significant amount of pain or discomfort.

If you find yourself in sudden pain or discomfort, especially if this pain radiates down a limb, it’s possible that you’re suffering from this issue. 

But how do you know?

We’ve put together a guide covering what a pinched nerve is, how to know if you have one, and what your treatment options are. If you are in severe pain, or find that your symptoms don’t resolve within 2-3 weeks, we recommend seeking medical treatment. 

What Is a Pinched Nerve? 

A pinched nerve refers to any nerve that is under pressure. In the spine, nerve roots run through the vertebral column, and are surrounded by bone, cartilage, and soft tissue. Small changes in surrounding tissue can be enough to put pressure on the nerve and cause significant pain and discomfort. 

The nerves of your limbs (for example, your median nerve in your wrist) can also become pinched by local changes to the tissue, such as inflammation and swelling of the connective tissue. This is commonly referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome, and often results from repetitive work such as typing. 

Common Sites Where Nerves Can Become Compressed

Pinched nerves can occur anywhere in the body. 

The problem with a pinched nerve is that the pain or discomfort you feel will most likely not be where the nerve is actually under pressure. For example, if the impacted nerve is in your lumbar back area, it can send a false signal to the brain that your hip or leg is in pain. 

Most pinched nerves originate in the neck (cervical spine), upper middle back (thoracic spine), or lower back (lumbar region). Pinched nerves also commonly occur in the hand, elbow, and wrist. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

Some pinched nerves are chronic, and may worsen over time, while other pinched nerves occur suddenly, such as due to an injury or sudden herniation of a disc. This means that you could notice a gradual increase in pain and symptoms in the affected area, or that the onset of pain and symptoms could be sudden.

In general, a pinched nerve causes the following symptoms in the affected area: 

  • Muscle stiffness or weakness
  • Sore muscles 
  • Sharp, aching, or burning pain that could radiate down a limb or part of a limb
  • Tingling and numbness, which could radiate down the limb

The origin of the pinched nerve will determine the location of the pain and some of the symptoms: 

  • Cervical Spine: The pain could be in your neck, shoulder, or arm, and could radiate down the arm into the fingers. You could also have a stiff neck, and the pain and numbness could affect the arm and shoulder.
  • Thoracic spine: The pain could be localized to your chest. However, with chest pain, it’s always best to call a healthcare provider or go to your nearest emergency room, as this could also be due to a heart attack or underlying cardiac condition.
  • Lumbar spine: Pain in the back, hips, buttocks, and legs. You could also experience soreness and stiffness in these regions.
  • Median nerve: Pain or numbness and weakness in the fingers, hand, and elbow. The pain does not generally radiate further up the arm, and is not accompanied by neck soreness or stiffness. 

What Causes a Nerve to Become Compressed

In general, the symptoms of a pinched nerve are due to pressure that is placed on a nerve root in the spine or radiating nerve in the limbs, such as in the carpal tunnel. This can occur after even slight changes in the surrounding bone and cartilage tissue. 

Pinched nerves are frequently caused by one or more of the below contributing factors: 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions
  • Normal aging that can cause spinal discs to flatten
  • Sudden accident or injury that causes a herniated disc, which collapses to place pressure on the nerve
  • Repetitive motion tasks, especially for compression of the median nerve
  • Diabetes, which can damage the nerves
  • Obesity or pregnancy, in which excess weight can compress nerves

Resolution and Treatment Options for a Pinched Nerve

In some cases, a pinched nerve can resolve on its own. The following at-home treatments can help:

  • Cold compresses in the affected area (i.e. the source of nerve compression; for example, the affected region of the spine)
  • Warm compresses to relieve muscle stiffness
  • Over-the-counter pain relief
  • Rest 

Again, if the pinched nerve does not resolve on its own in 2-3 weeks, or if the pain you’re experiencing is severe or debilitating, seek help from a medical professional.

At Atlanta Spine, we can identify the root cause of your pinched nerve and develop a treatment plan to relieve the pain and symptoms, as well as to realign your spine to prevent additional pinched nerves in the future. 

Depending on the cause of your pinched nerve, a variety of treatment options can be used: 

  • Pelvic alignment and core stabilization
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescribed home exercises and stretching
  • Ruptured or herniated disc treatment
  • Minimally invasive surgical approaches
  • Steroid injections to relieve inflammation and swelling at the site of injury
  • Disc replacement

The right course of treatment for your pinched nerve will depend on its root causes, and the severity of your injury. Schedule a consultation with Atlanta Spine Clinic to assess your pinched nerve and develop a treatment plan.

5 Important Questions To Ask About Sciatica Treatment

Maybe you’re worried that you may have sciatica, but you’re not sure. Or you have been diagnosed, but you don’t really know what’s next. Do you need sciatica treatment?

Dealing with sciatica can be frustrating and confusing. You want to get back to feeling like your normal self as soon as possible. But you also don’t want to dive into an expensive and invasive surgery that you might not even need without understanding your options.

That’s why you want to make sure you are being treated by a reputable medical professional. Someone who understands this potentially debilitating condition so that you are able to find the easiest and most straightforward path to the relief and healing you deserve.

From non-operative to surgical solutions, there are a number of sciatica treatment options out there. In this post, we’re going to take a look at five of the most important things to ask about in treatment for sciatica.

How Do I Know I Have Sciatica?

With sciatica treatment, the first thing to determine is whether you actually suffer from it or another similar condition. Sciatica is an irritation or pinching of the sciatic nerve located in your lower back, and there will be specific symptoms in your body that will indicate that you have it.

If you are suffering from sciatica, it will feel like a sharp pain down one leg and especially in the buttocks region. More specifically, it can feel like a tingling, pins and needles, or electric shock down the leg. Sciatica is usually in just one side of the body. 

If you feel you have sciatica, then you should be aware of the treatments available. Your best option is to try non-operative measures first. 

What Non-Operative Treatments Are Available?

There are three key treatments for sciatica that do not involve surgery. It is our goal to explore these options before recommending an operation. Patients with sciatica can benefit from physical therapy, pelvic alignment, and core stabilization. 

Physical therapy involves muscle building and increasing mobility through exercises and stretches. Pelvic alignment is done through chiropractic care and aligns as well as relieves pressure between the joint of the pelvis and hip. Core stabilization requires building muscles along the centerline of the body that support the lower back and hips.

Each one presents unique benefits to those who are suffering from sciatica. We also offer pain management if non-operative treatment is not completely successful and you do not wish to have surgery. An example of simple pain management you can do on your own is being an active walker and applying heat to the lower lumbar area of the spine.

This is not an exhaustive list and you are encouraged to ask your doctor about the many alternative therapies that can be used to treat an inflamed sciatic nerve.

When Do I Know Surgery Is Necessary?

If, after attempting non-surgical treatments, you still experience tingling, sharp pain, or a lack of mobility in your leg and buttocks that prevents you from living a productive life, then surgery is an important step to consider. You’ll know your condition is chronic if the pain persists for more than eight weeks despite alternative treatments.

Choosing surgery is not always a last resort, though. Sometimes, in severe cases, it is the first solution presented to a patient. While it’s typically important to try non-operative treatments, in some cases the doctor may determine that they are unlikely to work, and surgery is the best option.

Do not fear surgery. It is far more common than you realize, and we do this every day for people just like you.

Is Surgery Invasive or Complicated?

Many people are worried about a surgery being complicated, invasive, or involving a lengthy recovery time. Thankfully, surgery for sciatica can be very non-invasive when the latest technology and methods are used. 

There are several causes of sciatica that can be addressed with surgery, including a herniated disc, disc degeneration, and joint dysfunction. We are fortunate that most causes can be resolved with straightforward surgical procedures that require only a small incision in the back.

In all cases, we strive to keep surgery minimally invasive so that complete patient recovery is fast and certain. Using the latest techniques in spinal surgery practice means we can guarantee that our doctors will minimize the impact on your life and maximize the results for pain relief.

Will I Ever Get Back To Feeling Normal?

In cases of acute sciatica, recovery time with non-surgical methods is usually 4-6 weeks.  Depending on the cause, if your sciatica is chronic and has lasted for more than eight weeks, it could take longer to get back to feeling normal. 

Regardless, we highly recommend seeking out a physician as soon as possible. The sooner sciatica is treated, the better your chances of returning to your original state of being. One must remember that sciatic pain is only an indicator of an underlying cause that must be treated accordingly. As we mentioned above, non-operative choices exist to control, reduce or even eliminate the pain. 

We believe the outlook is good for this condition in most situations, but it is always best to act fast. Allow us to assess your condition by making an appointment now at ljo.3e2.myftpupload.com. We can recommend the best course of action and get you feeling like yourself again — without the pain and discomfort!

Your Back Is Hurting — Why?

Causes of back pain - doctor and spineBack pain is one of the most debilitating forms of discomfort. Your spine is at the center of your body, so if something goes wrong, you’re likely to be immobile for a while until it heals. 

However, not all back pain is made equal. You may heal faster — or slower — depending on the causes of your back pain. Knowing when you can wait out back pain on your own and when you should go to the doctor can save you months — or even years — of discomfort.

Some of the Most Common Causes of Back Pain

Herniated or Slipped Discs 

Your spine is made up of a collection of small bones known as vertebrae. Between your vertebrae, there are little disc-shaped cushions of soft tissue that allow you to flex and move your spine. Over time, these discs can wear down or move out of place. This is especially true if you do a lot of heavy lifting or other intensive back activity. 

Herniated and slipped discs often happen in the lower back, where your spine is most mobile. The pain is the result of nerves being compressed because the disc is no longer protecting them. Pain may also occur in the hip because of how the nerve is being pressed. If you suspect you have a slipped disc, you should reach out to a spinal care specialist right away. 

Discs can also bulge, which is a slightly less urgent problem than true herniation. Most of the time, a simple bulge won’t cause pain. Sometimes, though, the bulge can press on a nerve and cause shooting pains during movement.

Inflammation of the Sacroiliac Joint 

Towards the bottom of your spine, there’s a joint called the sacroiliac joint. This is the point where your pelvis and back connect. It’s not a very mobile joint, but it supports the entire weight of your upper body. 

When something goes wrong in the sacroiliac joint, it’s deeply painful. 

The sacroiliac joint can become inflamed for a number of reasons. Anything that affects your pelvic region can lead to inflammation there. Arthritis is one of the common causes of back pain, but so is pregnancy. If you notice lower back pain that’s primarily on one side of your body, or pain that extends into your legs, it may be caused by a sacroiliac joint problem.

Spinal Stenosis 

Older individuals are prone to a spine problem called spinal stenosis. What is it?

Over time, it’s possible for the spinal column to narrow. This slow narrowing puts extra pressure on the spine and the nerves alongside it. The narrowing is most likely to develop in the lower back and the neck — the more mobile parts of the spinal column. 

The pressure that spinal stenosis causes tends to lead to numbness and tingling in the back, legs, and shoulders. It may also involve a feeling of muscle weakness and pain as the stenosis continues. People over the age of 60 who notice tingling, numbness, or pain in their extremities should immediately reach out to a doctor to discover whether the cause is spinal stenosis or something more serious. 

Accidental Back Sprains and Strains

Back pain that can be traced back to an accident is most likely the result of a strain or sprain. There are many tendons, ligaments, and muscles along the spine that help support your body. Car accidents, falls, and even lifting or bending over improperly can lead to serious sprains of these supportive tissues. The result is acute back pain that gets better over time. 

A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Strains are most likely to occur after an improper lift or otherwise overstressing the back. Sprains, on the other hand, are injuries to ligaments that usually occur after falls, twists, or impacts. Both of these types of injuries are best treated with rest and over-the-counter painkillers. 

If the pain doesn’t start to fade after a few days, then the problem may not be a simple strain or sprain. After all, accidents can cause more serious spinal injuries, too. If your pain remains or gets worse after a few days, you should reach out to a doctor to address whether the injury might be more serious. 

Spinal Fracture 

A spinal fracture is the cracking of one of the vertebrae in your back. Spinal fractures are a possible result of serious accidents or falls. Not all spinal fractures immediately result in paralysis, but many can lead to serious spinal cord damage if not treated.

Silent spinal fractures, or fractures that don’t immediately cause spinal cord damage, often present similarly to strains and sprains. Additionally, sprains and strains typically occur alongside the fracture, sometimes masking the symptoms.
The primary sign that you have actually fractured a vertebrae is sudden, acute back pain that does not fade. If you are struggling with back pain that won’t heal after an accident, then you should make an appointment to have your pain properly diagnosed. That can be the difference between paralysis and a pain-free life.

Back pain can affect all parts of your life. It can reduce your mobility, it can prevent you from doing your job, and it can seriously affect your quality of life. That’s why you should never hesitate to get your back pain properly treated.

If you’re suffering from back pain, contact us at the Atlanta Spine Clinic. We can help you understand the cause of your pain and how to treat it effectively. You deserve to have your life back — pain-free. We’re here to help you achieve exactly that.

Will Losing Weight Alleviate Your Back Pain? 

Back pain often lends itself to the creation of a vicious cycle. When people have back pain, they find themselves unwilling or unable to go about their everyday activities or exercise. These periods of “rest” often do more harm than good, and the back pain continues. This is why many experts recommend low-impact activities, like walking, to help heal from back pain. 

Unfortunately, these periods of rest and inactivity may also cause weight gain… and experts believe that weight gain may increase your risk of back pain. 

Which begs the question: will losing weight alleviate your back pain? 

It’s a straightforward question, but the answer isn’t so simple, despite many strong connections between back pain and being overweight. If you are concerned that your back pain may be connected to your weight, read on. 

Statistics about Weight Gain and Back Pain 

Reports from the CDC say that seven out of 10 Americans over the age of 20 are overweight. Seven out of 10 adults also experience low back pain at one point or another in their lifetime. 

Now, you don’t have to be overweight to experience back pain. And not every overweight person experiences back pain, either. But even beyond those two pretty damning stats above, a number of studies show that the two may be linked. 

It’s pretty simple, really. If you are overweight, you face a higher risk of:

  • Any musculoskeletal pain 
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue 
  • Inability to complete everyday activities 

These symptoms, along with other postural changes in the body, can all contribute to different types of back pain. 

So, if you are overweight and concerned about back pain, it may be wise to check in with a specialist to assess your health. Your doctor may have different concerns depending on where you carry your weight. Patients who carry excess weight around their midsection, for example, face higher risk than others. A professional can help you identify areas where excess weight is being held and assess your risk of back pain, joint pain, and other symptoms. 

How Weight Gain May Cause Pain in Your Back

Why does the location of your excess weight matter when it comes to back pain? Because while weight gain doesn’t cause back pain in and of itself, it may cause various traumas or postures that lead to back pain. 

Excess weight around the stomach, for example, needs to be carried by the body. If an overweight person is not being cautious of their posture, their body may carry their weight by pulling the pelvis forward. This demands more work from the lower back. 

This work may only result in minor strain, but the problem could also become much more serious. In fact, this rearrangement of the low back may cause damage to the actual structure of the spine. This is why people who are overweight may experience a herniated disc, in which the disc bulges out of its spot between the vertebrae of the spine. 

If the disc comes out of its place, it could place pressure on the surrounding nerves. If the lumbar nerve is pinched, a patient may experience sciatica pain. 

As these changes occur, the body may try to reduce pain through inflammation. Unfortunately, excess inflammation can lead to other types of back pain, including ankylosing spondylitis and other forms of spinal arthritis. Persisting inflammation can cause lasting damage, including joint fusion and other damage. 

The longer a patient lives with excess weight and strains their back, the higher their risk for more permanent damage. Even if you are experiencing mild pain and are slightly overweight, it might be time to reassess your health and make some changes to alleviate the back pain. 

How to Lose Weight When Experiencing Pain in the Back

The vicious cycle of back pain includes an inability (or lack of desire) to exercise. Straining your back further can cause more damage. But continuing to rest will not help you lose weight or strengthen the muscles needed to realign your spine. 

If you have not been exercising regularly, start slow with low-impact activities. Walking around the block after meals can help to burn calories and increase your metabolism. Swimming uses every muscle in the body without putting high pressure on the joints. Lifting small weights is better than lifting no weights. 

Reach out to a professional as you begin this journey. If you have a herniated disc or sciatica pain, you may want to steer clear of certain exercises that will exacerbate your pain. A spine specialist may recommend treatments alongside your new exercise routine. 

Do not forget to ask about nutrition and making adjustments to your current diet, too. Exercise is just one piece of the health and wellness puzzle. An anti-inflammatory diet, for example, can help to reduce pain caused by ankylosing spondylitis or spinal arthritis. 

Will Weight Loss Alleviate Back Pain Forever?

Unfortunately, there is no one solution to alleviate back pain. Every case is different. While losing weight may take some pressure off of the pelvis and spine, other damage may have already been done. 

A herniated disc, for example, may not resume its proper place just because you lose some weight. Slimming down doesn’t always “unpinch” nerves. If your pelvis has permanently shifted due to excess weight, you may need to undergo treatment or therapy to realign it and take the strain off of your lower back. 

Bottom line? 

If you are overweight and experiencing back pain, you may find some relief as you start to lose weight. But consider other options. Be aware of your posture. Be aware of how your back feels as you engage in different levels of physical activity. Share your symptoms with a spine specialist who can help to assess your pain and help you take the next steps to living a pain-free life.