Nov 8, 2023 We Care for the Aging Spine

Orthopedic & Spine Institute RWJUH Hamilton

The Orthopedic and Spine Institute (OSI) at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, understands and cares for the aging spine. “OSI is situated on the campus of the hospital in Hamilton Township allowing patients to readily and efficiently utilize the many resources of this comprehensive health care facility with everything one might expect from a state-of-the-art hospital providing both in-patient and out-patient services,” says Marc J. Levine, MD, Director of the Orthopedic and Spine Institute at RWJUH Hamilton, Clinical Assistant Professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

There is much that can be done to help avoid problems as the spine ages. People often want to know the best exercises to do to help avoid spine issues as we get older. In general, a combination of both weight-bearing exercises and walking can help maintain the strength of bone particularly those blocks of bones in our spine. Stretching exercises can help the musculoskeletal system stay flexible and avoid sprains and strains of the spine. Females particularly can benefit from closely monitoring osteoporosis risks and using medication when appropriate. A DEXA scan is the test of choice to diagnose and monitor osteoporosis.

Posture and proper weight distribution can be fundamental to avoid back injuries. In general, folks should try to avoid bending at the waist particularly if they are also picking up heavy items. Keeping the center of gravity over the hips minimizes the risk of injury by maximizing the structure of the spine. Seasonal activities that can increase the risk of spine problems include spring gardening with continuous bending as well as winter snow shoveling. If you enjoy gardening, consider using a kneeling stool to get up and down. If you must shovel snow, consider pushing the snow, light lifting and bending your knees. Better yet, ask a younger friend to shovel instead!

“Fortunately, patients can turn to RWJUH Hamilton’s vast network of skilled physical therapists, geriatricians and primary care physicians to help keep their spines healthy,” adds Dr. Levine. “When necessary, our practitioners can refer patients to the Orthopedic and Spine Institute to receive comprehensive evaluations and treatment plans which may or may not need to include surgical options.” The interaction between specialties is seamless as medical records and x-rays are integrated to a common system shared by care providers.

At the Orthopedic and Spine Institute, we have the ability to review a patient’s complete health status and tailor treatments in a coordinated fashion. There have been so many exciting innovations in spine surgery that allow for a more precise diagnosis and surgical planning. Today, surgical intervention can be safely offered to aging patients with quicker recoveries than in the past. Minimally invasive techniques and technology allow spine surgery to be done with smaller incisions, less blood loss and less scarring than traditional surgeries. These types of procedures are often the ideal approach for surgical procedures designed to manage the most common problems of the aging spine.

If you are considering spine surgery, you deserve to discuss your options with the surgical team at the Orthopedic and Spine Institute where state of the art technology and techniques are improving the lives of patients every day.

For more information, visit Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton.

Let’s be healthy together