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Top 4 Tips To Optimize Any Spinal Treatment

Authored by Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS. April 11, 2017

Millions of people experience symptoms related to back or neck pain each year. These symptoms could include tingling, numbness, pins and needles, loss of strength – you name it, someone has felt it. Luckily, as the prevalence of back and neck pain has progressed, so has our understanding of the underlying causes and our ability to treat them. With advances in technology we’ve seen growth in minimally invasive spine surgery and robot-guided spine surgery. With advances in biomedical research we’ve seen growth in using the body’s own tissues to heal itself.

One of these breakthrough treatment options could be the solution to your back or neck pain, but how can you optimize its success?

Top 4 Tips to Optimize Any Spinal Treatment


Diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and other vascular diseases can sometimes impact your treatment options. Keep in contact with your doctors and follow their instructions to keep these health issues at bay.


Eating a balanced diet is not only important for your spine– it’s great for your overall health! Providing your body with proper nutrients and fuel optimizes your ability to heal faster and reduces risk of infection or complications. There’s also the side benefit of weight loss which helps to lower stress on the musculature of the spine.

Start by changing your diet – focus on adding veggies to every meal and a handful of fruits during snack time! Stick to lean meats {i.e. chicken, pork, fish, lamb, etc.} and be sure to consume healthy fats {i.e. avocado, olive oil, etc.} Avoid those processed foods and preservatives as much as possible and limit your alcohol consumptions to no more than one drink per day.


Nicotine consumption is one of the worst things you can do to your spine. Smoking actually kills your discs, leading to disc herniations and bulging discs. Additionally, smoking also increases the receptors in your brain that cause you to feel pain. If that isn’t enough, smoking prevents the body from healing and if nicotine is used around the time of a surgery there are higher rates of infection, failure of fusion, medical complications, and chronic pain.


Restoring proper muscle strength to the areas of the spine and the extremities being treated, as well as appropriate mobility of the tissues and joints is essential to the short-term and long-term success of any treatment option.

Dr. Thomas Schuler is a world-renowned, double board certified spine surgeon; trained in both neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery of the spine. He founded Virginia Spine Institute in 1992 and is a recognized international leader in the treatment of neck and lower back conditions. Dr. Schuler is noted among the 100 best spine surgeons in America, and serves as President of the National Spine Health Foundation as well as Chairman of its Medical and Scientific Board. Learn more about Dr. Schuler. 

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About The Author

Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS

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