Author Archives: admin

The Advantages of an Updated Ambulatory Surgical Center

An ambulatory surgery center, also referred to as an ASC, is a modern, fully equipped facility for outpatient surgical procedures. An up-to-date ASC features the same kinds of surgical capabilities, safety equipment and qualified personnel that you’d find in a surgical suite at a hospital. The main difference is that the ASC located at a medical practice like the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) in Mt. Pleasant, SC, is not in a hospital.

That doesn’t mean that every time you visit SSI for a checkup or a treatment, you’re going to have surgery in the updated ASC. In fact, any type of surgery, no matter how minimally invasive, is always the last resort at SSI. Your spine specialist tries every other potentially effective treatment before recommending surgery. Non-surgical treatments include medications, physical therapy and nerve blocks.

Sometimes, Surgery Is Required

If you suffer from debilitating chronic pain and other treatments aren’t effective against your back pain, targeted surgery can help. And an updated ASC, like the one at SSI’s new location at 1625 Hospital Drive in Mt. Pleasant, is the perfect choice for such a surgery. SSI’s ambulatory surgery center has been particularly set up for back, knee, shoulder and other joint surgeries to match the focus of its medical practice.

The new location houses six updated ASCs. That translates into added convenience and shorter wait times for you. The new ASCs come outfitted with the latest medical equipment, support apparatus and safety facilities to conduct outpatient surgeries safely and effectively. You can trust the surgeons and the multidisciplinary staff at SSI because they cooperate to deliver you the best outcome.

The Benefits of an Updated ASC

You enjoy several advantages when you have your procedure performed in an updated ambulatory surgery center, including:

  • Convenient location. The Southeastern Spine Institute’s updated ASCs are located in the same building as its examination rooms, X-rays and MRIs, pharmacy, labs, pain management and physical therapy facilities. The 65,000-square-foot facility provides everything you need for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for your back pain, and six ASCs are now available.
  • Lower overall costs. Hospitals are expensive. An ASC at SSI is a dedicated facility, which keeps costs down. So you pay less if it’s done in an ASC instead of in a hospital. Lower costs don’t mean lower quality, as the procedure is done the same in an ASC as in the hospital.
  • Shorter wait time. To have your procedure done in a hospital, you may have to wait. The hospital staff has to schedule time in the operating room and organize the doctors and support staff. If you opt for having your procedure in an updated ASC at SSI, you’ll experience very little wait time.
  • Personalized service. Hospitals are hotels for the sick. You have less privacy and are exposed to more illnesses when you’re in a hospital. You may have to share your room and your nurse. At SSI, your surgeon and support staff in the ASC are there for you, and they all specialize in spinal medicine. You get all the personal attention you need, while being protected from exposure to infections from others.
  • Same-day surgery. Your spine specialist may decide that surgery is the only way to relieve your pain and resolve your health problems. If you’re ready for the operation, you can have your operation on that same day on an outpatient basis. By that night, you’ll be recuperating at home.
  • Outpatient procedures. An ASC is perfect for outpatient procedures. You go in for your surgery, rest a while afterward under supervision, and when you’re ready, you’re released to heal at home. You’ll be home with detailed instructions from your surgeon about how to take care of yourself as you recuperate.
  • New overnight facilities. SSI’s new updated ASC has added overnight capacity for outpatient procedures. So if you need to spend a night in a supervised location, SSI has you covered. SSI makes it easy, safe, and private.

A Driving Tour of Charleston, SC

More than seven million people visit Charleston, South Carolina at its historic locale in a given year. There are many things that make this small city so beloved by travelers. Its lovingly preserved architecture and lush waterfronts often draw vacationers, but the city’s adaptability to personal needs is what keeps people coming back.

No matter what brings you to Charleston, there are going to be days when you prefer to see the sights from the comfort of a vehicle. Tour Charleston in the comfort of your car, whether you’re:

  • Waiting for a procedure at the Southeastern Spine Institute and Ambulatory Surgery Center (SSI)
  • Recovering from an outpatient surgery
  • Concerned about social distancing
  • Worried about inclement weather

Bus Tours of Charleston

It’s a breeze to tour Charleston without having to put undue stress on your spine, expose yourself to unwanted germs or visit the sites without having to walk for miles. Find something catered to your specific tastes in sightseeing or look to go with the flow of a more general downtown excursion. Charleston’s bus tour offerings can help you craft a perfect, personalized visit for you and your guests. You can find something special even if you want to head out in the company of others.

There is something for everyone and tours for all tastes. Bus tour options in Charleston include:

  • Charleston Harbor Tours offers a variety of motorized sightseeing options designed for groups big and small. Explore Charleston’s most awe-inspiring locations on the 1.5-hour “See It All City Tour.” This bus trip not only drives by some of the city’s oldest preserved architecture, but it also takes you through The Old City Market, the historic Charleston promenade, The Battery and many stunning attractions. Charleston has sights you won’t find anywhere else.
  • Crafted Travel Charleston is the luxury traveler’s way to get a taste of the Holy City. This tour company offers chauffeured driving tours led by certified guides who are lifelong Charlestonians. With their assortment of brewery, winery and restaurant tours, your spirit and stomach will be satisfied after you tour Charleston in style.

Self-Guided Tours of Charleston

A self-guided tour is the ideal way to see the city’s breathtaking sights at your own pace. The freedom of your own vehicle lets you tour Charleston the way you want without having to worry about exhaustion, awkward tour group interactions or pesky weather issues. Do some research ahead of time and then design a basic itinerary to take away any pre-trip anxieties and streamline your day.

The Historic Charleston Foundation has designed their own app for the tourist like you who wants to see the city on your own terms. With a focus on storytelling through architectural preservation, the City Guide app has more than 300 text stops and 30 audio stops designed to paint the picture of past and present Charleston.

While a self-guided tour might seem daunting at first, the ability to edit your schedule, be spontaneous and let the history of the city envelope you has its benefits. The expansive guide provided by the app helps you tour Charleston while being able to choose on the fly which destinations you want to see by car. Have fun!

What to Do When You’ve Hurt Your Knee

Your knees are almost always working. Walking to and from your daily tasks, withstanding the majority of your body weight and doing any exercise that involves the lower body all require healthy knees. While maintaining an active lifestyle prevents things like injuries or muscle strain, sometimes overexertion of the most used joints and ligaments can lead to varying degrees of knee pain.

The Southeastern Spine Institute and Ambulatory Surgery Center (SSI) has specialists on staff to deliver knee pain treatment, which also can be an underlying cause of back problems. If you find your knees are hurting and in need of immediate or long-term knee pain treatment, seek the advice of an experienced team of knee and back doctors. Contact SSI to speak to a doctor about your next step, which probably include a physical evaluation.

What Happened?

The first step in any effective knee pain treatment is figuring out how you hurt yourself. Pinpointing the cause informs your doctor as to the reason for your pain and helps you avoid repeating the action that caused the strains. An accurate diagnosis leads to effective treatment that minimizes immediate pain, too. The most common causes of knee pain include:

  • Tendinitis. An irritation or inflammation of the tendon that connects a knee bone to muscle is a condition caused by repeated overexertion of the knee, often through exercise.
  • Ligament sprain. A tear in the fibrous tissue that connects a knee bone to the joint is caused by the knee joint being forced into an unnatural position, usually through trauma.
  • Meniscus tear. A tear in the C-shaped cartilage between the thighbone and shinbone may be caused by a sudden twist in the knee when weight is being placed on it.
  • IT band syndrome. When tightness in the connective tissue extends from your pelvic bone to the shinbone, it’s caused by distance running and overextension of your legs.
  • Osteoarthritis. The wearing down of the cartilage in your knee is usually caused by age. As water levels in the cartilage rise, protein levels decrease, making the joint more susceptible to damage.
  • Bursitis. The inflammation of bursae, the fluid-filled pads that cushion the knee joints, leads to swelling. It’s caused by repeated pressure on the joint or pre-existing arthritis.

Treatment Plans

Like all kinds of aches and pains, knee injuries seem to crop up at the most inopportune times. If you’re unable to get in and see a doctor, schedule a virtual appointment, a new service from SSI. In the meantime, you can try these DIY knee pain treatment methods:

  • Knee brace
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine
  • I.C.E. — rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Warm baths
  • Cushioned shoe insoles
  • Knee-safe cardio, such as walking, swimming and elliptical machines

If your pain persists or worsens, refer to your SSI knee specialist for the next step in your knee pain treatment plan. When medical intervention becomes necessary for a knee injury, your SSI doctor may recommend safe and effective treatments such as:

  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Orthotic shoes
  • Surgery, as a last resort

As one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries, knee damage happens to many people at one point in life. To greatly reduce the likelihood of injuring your knees, take preventative measures like stretching before any physical activity and listen to your body during a rigorous exercise routine.

How to Properly Pick Things Up

Whether you’re in the process of doing a thorough spring cleaning, tackling big clean-up projects in your yard, helping a friend move or doing heavy lifting as part of your job, protect your back when doing any lifting. Lower back pain, often from improper lifting, is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor. But that doesn’t mean it’s an inevitability.

With just a few adjustments to your form, you can protect your back, avoid aggravating a previous back injury or prevent a new one. Your spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute and Ambulatory Surgery Center (SSI) provide you with clear instructions for how to protect your back, instructions to follow especially when lifting anything heavy.

Good Form Is Tantamount

“Lift with your legs” is an adage you’ve likely heard countless times. But what does that actually mean? You can avoid many instances of acute back pain by following a few simple rules before you start, such as:

  • Limber up. First and foremost, make sure you’re stretched out before you start. Take just five minutes to do bodyweight squats and ankle grab quad stretches to protect your hamstrings and quadriceps — the most important muscles when lifting.
  • Wait until after morning. If you’re prone to back pain, put off any lifting until the afternoon. When you sleep, fluid builds up in the spongy discs between your vertebrae. This makes the muscles surrounding your spinal column tighter and more likely to spasm or strain than at a later point in the day.
  • Backside out. To protect your back while lifting, push out your buttocks as you descend. Simply step your feet shoulder-width apart, replicate the squat from your stretch and maintain an upright posture on your way down and back up.
  • Keep it close. With heavy lifting, make sure you’re not overexerting yourself. While your first instinct might be to pick something up from its location, your back will appreciate it if you first pull the item towards your body and then lift.
  • Be mindful. Taking a few deep breaths to center yourself before lifting can go a long way to protect your back. Notice your body’s natural position and adjust accordingly into the good form that’s recommended.
  • Lift a leg. Picking up something small might not seem as risky, but consistent improper form can lead to similar strain. Next time you’re picking up a fallen pen or your dog’s water bowl, place your hand on something sturdy for balance and lift one leg behind you as you bend forward.

Treatments for Back Strain from Lifting

Even with all the knowledge in the world, you still may find yourself experiencing back pain from lifting. The severity of the injury determines the best cause of action for relief. Contacting your doctor at SSI should be the first step so you don’t do further damage. But common treatments for light muscle strains include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicine
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Ice or heat packs
  • Modified daily activities while you heal
  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy

If a major problem arises, your spine doctors at SSI have a multitude of minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures to relieve your pain and correct the issue. Along with taking safety precautions to protect your back, you can always contact SSI for any questions related to back muscle tension and strain.

Why SSI Moved to a New Location

The Southeastern Spine Institute and Ambulatory Surgery Center (SSI) moved in March 2020 to its current address at 1625 Hospital Drive, Mount Pleasant, SC — just down the street from its previous location. That old location provided plenty of parking and two buildings containing all the equipment and expertise needed for back care on one campus.

So why did the spinal practice move and why now? And why did it move such a short distance away? These are all valid questions, and all have logical answers.

Expanded Space

At its previous location on Chuck Dawley Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, SSI had a finite space. It would have been an impossible task to expand while remaining open to patients. Additionally, the buildings themselves would have been difficult to enlarge in a patient-friendly, ergonomic way, while maintaining the beauty and peaceful atmosphere.

At 41,000-plus square feet, the old office space served its purpose for a number of years. But it had its limitations. The new location offers 65,000 square feet of functional space. The new space is more modern in design, too, which reflects SSI’s cutting-edge philosophy of spinal medicine. Finally, the new location includes an expanded parking area to better serve you.

A Spinal Practice for Other Ailments

Originally, SSI operated solely as a spinal practice. Within the existing space, every specialty and all the equipment available were put to use in the service of spinal care and back treatments. But with the arrive of Dr. Marc Haro and others, SSI grew into a multi-disciplinary practice, capable of treating knee and shoulder issues as well as spine problems.

The same ambulatory surgical center (ASC) that was used for spinal surgery could be easily adapted, without the need for further equipment, for other types of outpatient surgery, too. As a result, the two ASCs in the previous location were experiencing an accelerating amount of scheduled usage. In short, SSI was outgrowing its offices.

The new facility features six ASCs, as well as accommodating new outpatient procedure rooms. The latest EMG, digital X-ray, fluoroscopy capabilities and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment, which are larger and more comfortable, are also part of the package at the new offices. You can now safely undergo necessary surgical procedures without waiting for a spot to open up in the schedule.

A Short Move up the Street

SSI didn’t move far from its previous location. In fact, they’re still in Mt. Pleasant. The new offices are less than 10 minutes from the previous location, and that was on purpose.

While the spinal practice attracts patients from all over the country, many still do come from the immediate area. Staying close to the original location prevents confusion. Another reason to move nearby is that the offices where SSI ended up are in a medical complex, making it easier to find.

More modern offices. State-of-the-art equipment. Several more ASCs to accommodate patients. New location close to the previous one. These are all good reasons to move a spinal practice; we hope you agree.

Dealing with Back Pain Between SSI Visits

Back pain is often uncomfortable and even debilitating. So when your options for regular treatment become limited, you may reach your wit’s end. Similarly, if you have to wait a couple of weeks for your next appointment for a pain management treatment, your pain can make your life unmanageable.

Your doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) help prepare you for those uncomfortable periods when treatment isn’t readily available. If your back pain becomes so acute that you just can’t wait to see your back specialist for some relief, do call your spine physician; there’s a good chance he can work you in for an appointment.

Seek Help As Soon As Possible

Taking care of your health —as well as maintaining your pain management regimen — ensures that your back problem doesn’t worsen and that your recovery continues unabated. Stress and pain can do just as much damage to your ongoing health as your initial back problem. Let your SSI doctor treat you with continuing care.

If you aren’t able to see your doctor right away, you may be able to take advantage of SSI’s virtual exam capabilities. View a brief explanation of a virtual exam. As a patient, your x-rays and chart are available to guide your virtual appointment. You’ll receive the best advice for therapies that can help, or if you need it, the doctor can call in a prescription for you until you can visit.

Continue Rehab

Following your most recent treatment or procedure, your SSI physical therapist provides you with appropriate exercises to do at home to maintain your level of recovery. You must continue with these to reduce your back pain between visits. Many stretching exercises are ideal for reducing pain in your back.

A few modifications or additional exercises may give you added relief as well. During a virtual visit with your doctor or your physical therapist, your level of pain is assessed. Your back specialist then guides you through stretches and exercises for your unique requirements.

Stay-at-Home Tips for Managing Pain

In addition to lowering stress and maintaining your recovery plan as much as possible, other tips from your SSI team for reducing back pain include:

  • Moving around. While it may seem counterintuitive when you’re hurting, staying in one position for too long actually exacerbates painful back issues.
  • Avoid long stretches of computer and phone time. Pouring over social media on your phone and sitting in front of a computer screen places excessive pressure on your shoulders, neck and back that only serve to worsen your discomfort.
  • Apply topical pain-relieving ointments to the painful areas of your back. Creams that contain capsaicin are especially effective for back pain due to osteoarthritis.
  • Numb the sore area with a cold pack. You can also use a bag of ice or frozen food wrapped in a towel. Keep the ice on for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Use heat to relieve muscle aches. Check the temperature of your heating pad, heated water bottle or cloth-wrapped rice bag to prevent burns.
  • Wear supportive shoes even as you walk around your home. Walking around in flat slippers, in socks or barefoot can strain your back, something you don’t need during this time.
  • Get sufficient sleep. Don’t take any caffeine in the afternoon or evening because it can keep you up. Talk to your SSI doctor about other remedies if sleep eludes you when your back pain worsens.
  • Reduce stress with mindful meditation. This is the process of listening to your body and using your mind to direct healing where you need it. A study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research discovered that this practice, when performed regularly, can reduce pain and stress while increasing your quality of life.

How Your Shoulders Affect Your Back

Hunching over computers and other electronic devices is one of the main causes of upper back and shoulder pain. Your shoulders and your back are intricately connected through bones, ligaments and tendons. When something is out of alignment or damaged, your pain tends to radiate. The doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can help.

The more time you spend quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic, the more likely you’re abusing your shoulders and your back. If you’re experiencing new pain and discomfort, contact your SSI spine specialist. If you’re dealing with ongoing upper back and shoulder pain, be vigilant about your posture, but check in with your SSI physician. To minimize your current pain, avoid:

  • Pouring over news websites on your devices for hours on end
  • Engaging social media more as a way to connect with distant friends and family
  • Crooking your neck as you talk on the phone
  • Relying on your devices to feel less isolated

Possible Causes of Upper Back Pain

While hunching your back is a common cause of pain in your shoulders and your back, other issues can lead to associated discomfort. Other causes of upper back and shoulder pain include:

  • Sprains and strains from overuse. Many under quarantine use their time to tackle projects around the house. If you do any heavy lifting, remember you may not be prepared. Limber up with some stretches first. If you take the kids outside to play catch or if you grapple with gardening or yardwork, don’t forget that overuse can cause ligament strains and muscle sprains, leading to aching pain between your upper spine and your shoulder blades.
  • Dislocating a rib from repetitive strain. While it’s less common, lifting heavy objects overhead or exerting yourself beyond your normal activities can cause a rib to pop out of place. Even reaching too far can hurt you. A dislocated rib causes a sharp pain in your shoulder blade, and you’ll find it hard to breathe.
  • Herniated disc in the neck. Herniation happens when a disc’s outer layer tears, which lets the inner fluid leak out. A herniated disc inflames nearby nerves, causing pain to radiate to your shoulder and down your arm. A herniated disc in your upper back also can lead to sharp pain around your shoulder blade.
  • Compression fractures. More typical in older adults with osteoporosis, compression fractures occur when a bone in your upper back weakens and fractures. You may suspect a compression fracture if the pain feels better with rest.
  • Improper lifting. Pain in your shoulders and your back may be due to lifting objects overhead, which forces your spine out of alignment and puts pressure on your upper spinal column. Injuries like pulled muscles and ligament tears are common when you use improper lifting techniques.
  • Heart problems. Pain in your shoulders and your back, especially in women, may be an indication that you are having a heart attack. An aortic dissection, in which an artery tears, causes severe pain near or under your shoulder blade. These are life-threatening conditions that require immediate medical attention.

Treatments for Pain in Your Shoulders and Your Back

The first step when new pain strikes is to contact your doctor at SSI. You may need to see your doctor in person or just connect through a virtual exam. Your physician often can detect the source of your discomfort.

To relieve your pain, take steps to severely limit your screen time. Simple stretches and posture corrections may alleviate your discomfort. When your pain requires a more aggressive approach, visit the new SSI offices at 1625 Hospital Drive on the campus of the East Cooper Medical Center in Mt. Pleasant. Specialists can advise you and deliver the services you need, such as:

  • Heat and cold therapy to help relieve pain from a pulled muscle or damaged ligament
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation
  • Prescription muscle relaxers and other pain medications to give your shoulders and your back time to heal
  • Modifying your activities to relieve discomfort and allow the damage to heal
  • Steroid or nerve injections for immediate relief
  • Stretching and therapeutic exercises to reduce pain and prevent it from worsening
  • Minimally invasive interventions to treat a compression fracture when rest alone doesn’t work

Your doctors at SSI offer treatment options available to relieve your pain and discomfort, whether it occurs in the midst of quarantine or not. You don’t have to — and shouldn’t — wait until your pain worsens to seek the counsel of specialists. Your doctor at SSI has answers to pain in your shoulders and your back.

Get a Second Opinion at SSI

It’s not easy to know when to get a second opinion in a medical matter. Sometimes, your health insurance carrier requires it. Sometimes, you just want to confirm a diagnosis. At other times, you may want to make sure you’re choosing the best available treatment. All of these reasons are valid.

Whenever you have a back, neck, shoulder or knee problem, you’re always well served by having it checked by your family doctor or primary care physician first. It’s your first line of defense. But no one knows your back and joints better than a specialist, and the specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) in Mt. Pleasant, SC, have the expertise and equipment to accurately diagnose the cause of your pain.

When You Need a Second Opinion

If your diagnosis is for something minor, you don’t need a second opinion. But if you’re concerned about a serious medical problem, getting a second opinion can provide the peace of mind you need to know you’re making the best decision. When you hurt your back, shoulder or knees, come in to SSI for a thorough evaluation, and if you need it, an expert second opinion.

Whenever you’ve been told that you need surgery, that’s the perfect time to seek a second opinion. A second opinion with a specialist can save you from unnecessary invasive surgery. For example, if a new, less invasive procedure that addresses your issue is available, SSI will be able to offer that, potentially saving you money, pain and recovery time.

Diagnostics Extraordinaire

Since moving to its new location at 1625 Hospital Drive in Mt. Pleasant, SSI has expanded its diagnostic capabilities. While SSI is renowned for its groundbreaking work on spinal illnesses and injuries, the practice has added other specialties, such as sports medicine, orthopedics and neurosurgery. They join a team that already includes spinal specialists, pain management doctors and physical therapists.

As a result, SSI has the knowledge to deliver accurate diagnoses. The practice now has the latest diagnostic tools — such as modern MRI machines, digital x-rays and fluoroscopy — to pinpoint the cause of your pain. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your health.

The Latest Treatment Options

Another reason to get a second opinion is to find out if your prescribed treatment is actually the right fit for you. There are usually alternative ways of addressing the root cause of your pain. These alternatives are medically proven and often less invasive than the more traditional treatments your primary care doctor will prescribe. It’s always a good idea to check with a specialist at SSI to learn about your options.

That’s the value of a second opinion for back, shoulder and knee pain. You get access to the latest equipment, the best care and the most knowledgeable doctors and specialists in South Carolina. So when you get a difficult diagnosis or a recommendation for surgery, come into the Southeastern Spine Institute for a second opinion. You’ll learn more, get confirmation and discover some treatment alternatives.

New Location — Same Comprehensive Services

The Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) is the largest medical practice in South Carolina exclusively specializing in spinal care. And its footprint just got bigger. SSI and its ambulatory surgery center previously occupied about 41,000 square feet on three acres of land in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. As of March 2020, the practice moved to a new location on the campus of the East Cooper Medical Center at 1625 Hospital Drive.

Still in Mt. Pleasant, the new offices are less than 10 minutes from the previous location. The new 65,000-square-foot facility provides access to:

  • Six ambulatory surgery centers and outpatient procedure rooms
  • Added overnight capacity
  • Larger, state-of-the-art MRIs
  • EMG, digital X-ray and fluoroscopy capabilities
  • Expanded parking

Rely on SSI’s Services

Services you’ve come to expect from SSI specialists and support teams continue to excel and expand. Procedures and treatments available include:

  • Spine blocks
  • Minimally invasive outpatient surgery
  • In-house pharmacy
  • Physical therapy center for spine-related conditions
  • Expert shoulder and joint care
  • Nerve testing and nerve conduction studies
  • Laser surgery

Same-day services, all under one roof, remain the mainstay of SSI. Most often, no overnight stay is necessary. But you still have access to the many fine hotels, dining and entertainment options in nearby Charleston, SC, at least during non-pandemic times. The SSI team includes:

  • Spine surgeons
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Sports medicine orthopedic specialists
  • Non-surgical rehab doctors
  • Pain management specialists

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby

SSI was founded in 1990 by Dr. Don Johnson, a surgeon who worked for more than 20 years to bring all the medical tools and procedures needed to diagnose and treat spinal illnesses and injuries to one location. His vision culminated in the opening of SSI’s comprehensive South Carolina spine center. Dr. Johnson graduated with honors from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston and returned to MUSC for his residency. He’s been a member of the governing board of MUSC since 1994. He became board chairman in 2020.

Spinal physicians at SSI were the first in the South to perform an artificial disc replacement and the first to do an outpatient X-Lif procedure — an operation performed through your side to avoid cutting the muscles in your back. They were first spine doctors in South Carolina to successfully perform a percutaneous arthroscopic discectomy, which is an outpatient laser surgery used to repair herniated discs. Other examples of the endless achievements recorded at SSI include:

  • New and effective use of CT scans and MRIs for spinal diagnostics
  • A new model for the continuum of care, linking diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation together into a single program under one roof
  • Combining MRI and fluoroscopy, perfecting guided spinal blocks, often bringing relief to those suffering from chronic nerve pain
  • Applying psychological techniques designed to manage pain and motivate faster recovery
  • Introducing aquatic therapy for pain relief and rehabilitation
  • Performing artificial disc replacement using the ProDisc Artificial Disc

As the practice continues to grow, the SSI team is committed to continuing its long history of innovation in the treatment of back issues and chronic pain. Contact the office for more information or to make an appointment.

Stretches for Seniors

George Bernard Shaw once said that “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement, and it has an application to your body. The older you get, if you’re like many people, the less likely you are to engage in physical activity. And your body deteriorates from lack of use.

The more your body stiffens, the less you want to stretch it. It’s a vicious circle, but it doesn’t have to be. You’re going to age, but with the right exercise regimen and regular stretches for seniors, your golden years still can be active and healthy. In just one office visit, the physical therapists at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can design a set of stretches for seniors like you. Try:

  • Shoulder rolls
  • Arm openers
  • Triceps stretches
  • Hand stretches

Shoulder Rolls

As you age, your shoulders get stiff if you don’t stretch them regularly. Shoulder rolling stretches for seniors maintain and even improve the range of motion in your shoulders, neck and upper arms. While limber shoulders are necessary for activities such as tennis or golf, you also need them for mundane daily activities like putting dishes away on an upper shelf.

Each day, roll your shoulders forward in 10 big circles. Then repeat the process with another 10 rolls in the opposite direction. If you feel any discomfort, stop immediately. You can try again the following day. If the pain returns, contact your doctor or physical therapist at SSI in Mount Pleasant, SC.

Arm Openers

Effective at stretching your back, arms and shoulders, arm openers are excellent forms of stretching for seniors. Start by putting your hands behind your back and interlocking your fingers. Then pull your hands as far up from your tailbone as you can until you feel a comfortable stretch. Take five deep breaths to finish.

This movement stretches your arms for daily activities and sporting events. But the stretch also provides a much-needed stretch for your entire back. Additionally, your abdominal muscles and chest open up and stretch, which helps your breathing and posture.

Triceps Stretches

The backs of your upper arms tend to lose flexibility over time. While this is natural, it’s not helpful or necessary. Regular stretching for seniors that includes the triceps muscles keeps your arms limber. This stretch also prepares you to do other exercises that reduce the wings of loose skin that older people tend to develop.

Stand with your feet spread waist-width apart, forcing your shoulders down and backward. Start by raising your right hand towards the ceiling while keeping your shoulders down. Bend your right elbow and bring your palm down to the back of your neck. Move your elbow backward and hold the stretch for 15 to 25 seconds. Do this two or three times, trying to increase the range of motion each time. Repeat the sequence with your left arm.

Hand Stretches

Stretching your hands keeps them flexible if you often draw, type or do other repetitive activities. Start by taking an athletic stance, with your feet spread at shoulder-width and your knees slightly bent. Extend your hands straight out in front of you, and interlock your fingers with the palms together. Then rotate your hands upward until your palms face out.

When performing any stretches, do them gently, no matter what your age. It’s also advisable to increase your circulation before stretching. Do some moderate aerobic activity since cold, stiff muscles are more prone to injury. For some professional guidance and a more personalized approach on stretches for seniors, make an appointment with a physical therapist at SSI.