Summer Spine Safety

Enjoy All that Summer Has to Offer, Pain-Free!

Summer is officially here! While enjoying your favorite summer activities, whether it’s hitting the Delaware beaches or traveling to visit family, protect your back and neck with these tips:


Long Car Rides
Spending hours in the car can be painful for the back and neck! Positioning the car seat and stretching are two great ways to be comfortable and protect the spine and minimize back pain and neck pain. For more tips, check out our previous blog on Road Trip Tips!


Coolers, Luggage, and Heavy Items
Coolers filled with tasty treats for the beach and luggage packed for a week can be heavy. Use proper lifting techniques by keeping your spine straight, neck forward, and using your legs to lift.


Diving In
It’s estimated that 6,500 youth are injured each year due to diving injuries. Diving in head first to shallow waters at the pool or beach can cause injury to the cervical spine, some so severe that they could lead to paralysis. Protect the neck by going in feet first to determine the depth and check for other possible obstructions.


Sporting Events
Take me out to the ball game… without the back pain! Stadium seats and bleachers can be a pain in the back!  Stretch your back periodically while at these events and opt to bring your own seat or cushion when possible.


Theme Parks
Big thrills and even bigger drops! Roller coasters and other amusement park rides are fun but can be hard on your back and neck. Add that to the hours of standing in lines and miles of walking throughout the park and your entire body will be tired. Stretch and rest throughout the day give your body the break it needs.


Teeing Off
Spending a few hours on the greens is a great way to be physically active in the summer. To protect the back and neck, use proper swinging techniques by keeping your back straight and using your arms. Stretching before and after is also a great habit, just as in any other sport!

We hope you can enjoy the activities you love this summer while protecting your back and neck from injury with the tips above! Already experiencing pain? Come in and see the back-pain experts at First State Spine by scheduling an appointment.

Whiplash! When to Seek Treatment

A neck strain, most commonly referred to as whiplash, is caused by any impact or blow that forces your head and body to jerk forward and backward. The sudden impact or force causes the neck to stretch and tear the muscles and tendons. A high percentage of people involved in a motor vehicle accident will sustain a whiplash injury. Whiplash can share similar symptoms to a disc herniation; those suffering from severe pain should seek medical attention.

The First 72 Hours:
Within the first 72 hours following a whiplash injury, apply ice to the injured area every 1 to 2 hours after the accident.  Along with ice applications, those suffering from symptoms of a whiplash injury should consider over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, unless contraindicated. Also, modifying daily activities along with resting and relaxing will help alleviate muscle tension.

2-3 Days Following the Injury:
After 2-3 days of icing, anti-inflammatory medication, and rest, begin to use heat on the injured area. Heat loosens the muscles further, allowing you to stretch the muscles in the neck. According to, using heat 2 to 3 times a day with stretching can alleviate pain.

Symptoms to be Aware of:
Some whiplash symptoms are similar to a herniated disc within the cervical spine. Soreness, stiffness, or sharp pains are all shared symptoms between both injuries. Those who are struggling with the symptoms listed below should seek medical care:
  • Numbness/tingling in hands
  • Pain traveling into the shoulders
  • Muscle weakness or fatigue

Here at First State Spine, we pride ourselves on being the experts of the cervical spine. We understand the severity of neck trauma and we do our best to accommodate patients quickly, proudly serving those from Delaware and surrounding areas. Schedule your appointment today to discuss your neck pain and treatment options available!

Sudden Back Pain Hits! When to Seek Medical Attention

OUCH! All of a sudden you are suffering from throbbing, aching back pain! There are many reasons back pain can come on suddenly such as an accident, sports injury, muscle strains or a more involved issue within your spine. The American Spinal Decompression Association estimates that anywhere between 75% and 85% of Americans will suffer from back pain in their lifetime. Due to the fact that back pain is so common, it’s difficult to decipher when to seek medical treatment for our pain and when to rest.

If are suffering from sudden back pain, seek immediate medical treatment if you are experiencing the following:

Fever and Chills 
If you have a temperature over 101 degrees, in addition to your back pain, this can be a sign of infection within your spine.

Numbness or Weakness 
Losing sensation in your lower extremities, specifically, your groin and legs can be a sign of a deeper problem in your spine.

Uncontrolled Bladder/Bowels 
Having difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels, or experiencing pain while urinating, can be onset by a trauma to the spine.

Sudden back pain, the majority of the time, can be treated at home with rest and an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.  Ice should be applied to the area of concern for the first 48 hours, after which you can apply heat.  If pain doesn’t subside after a few weeks, please contact First State Spine to schedule an appointment with one of our spine experts to find the root of your pain and develop a personalized treatment plan.

First State Spine’s treatment plan focuses on an accurate diagnosis of the source of the patient’s pain. This strategy, combined with many techniques that we have pioneered, enable the majority of our patients to achieve excellent results!

If you’d like to make an appointment with one of our spine surgeons for your pain, please contact us at 302-731-2888 x1160.

Choosing Your Spine Surgeon: What You Need to Consider

Choosing the right Spine Surgeon
You’ve finally had enough! The pain you are experiencing is affecting your daily routine and you need relief, so you’ve decided to see a spine physician. How do you go about picking a spine surgeon that will do what’s best for YOU? Here are some things you need to consider:

Spine Specialists
You wouldn’t go to a shirt store if you were looking for pants. In the same regards, going to a practice that doesn’t primarily focus on the spine puts you at a disadvantage. Choosing a group that specializes in the spine will provide you with physicians who are experienced in your area of concern.

Experience Matters
You want to be confident in your spine surgeon, so experience in your specific procedure or spine problem is a must. Look for a physician who is Board Certified, performs surgeries on a regular basis and has a team of specialists to assist YOU.

New & Innovative Procedures
If you are going to a practice that specializes in the spine only, their doctors will be trained and continue training on the latest technologies. This may open you up to new options that will help you live pain-free.

Good Reputation
Whether you learn about your spine surgeon from a friend who had a successful surgery or search or, you want to find a physician with a successful reputation.

Spine Surgery is Their Last Resort
Plain and simple, surgery should always be a last resort for your pain!

First State Spine’s treatment plan focuses on an accurate diagnosis of the source of the patient’s pain. This strategy, combined with many techniques that we have pioneered, enable the majority of our patients to achieve excellent results! If you’d like to make an appointment with one of our spine surgeons for your pain, please contact us at 302-731-2888 x1160.

What do Dr. Z’s Patients Say Immediately After Cervical Spine Surgery?


“Oh my gosh! I cannot believe my arm pain is gone already and it’s the first time I felt my fingers in months!!!”

“I can’t believe I’m up walking around just a couple hours after surgery!”

“I’m feeling better than before I went to sleep, that’s for sure.”

“My throat and neck are a bit sore, but overall my original pain is gone!”

Cervical spine surgery is very safe and extremely effective, yielding up to 90% excellent results if patients are in a competent environment with experienced hands. Learn more today at

Proactive Tips for Your Spine Health!

Being proactive is important when it comes to your health. You go to the doctor regularly. You exercise. You maintain a healthy weight. What if you could be proactive to protect your spine? It’s estimated that almost 80% of Americans will experience low back pain. Be proactive about your spine health with our tips:

  • Keep it Low
    Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and yoga are great ways to strengthen your spine. Doing these exercises on a regular basis not only increases your strength but is a great way to maintain a healthy weight, another tip for being proactive in your spine health.
  • Focus on the Core
    Stabilize your spine by strengthening your core muscles. These are the muscles which surround and support the spinal column. As well as supporting the spinal column, these muscles also help in stabilizing and minimizing compressive forces on the spine, forces which often contribute to back pain. Check out our previous blog on core strengthening.
  • Practice Posture
    Head straight, flat back, feet on the ground with a slight bend in your knees if you are sitting. You may know what good posture is, but do you practice it? Bad posture causes a strain on your back, affects circulation and can lead to severe back pain.Are you sitting at an office desk slouched over most of the time? This can take a huge toll on your spine. Check out our tips of office posture.
  • Be Careful When You Lift
    Lift with your legs, not with your back. Make sure when lifting heavy objects that your feet are planted on the ground and squat down. Avoid twisting and turning your spine by leading with your hips and feet, taking it slow.
  • Travel Safely
    Whether you sit in the car long hours during the day or are going on a road trip, protect your back right in the car seat. Check out our tips to travel safely.
  • Sleep Well
    Sleep should be restful, not painful.  The best sleep positions would be on your neck or on your back. Not laying on a stack of pillows which can cause unnecessary strains, find one fluffy pillow that is comfortable and supportive. 

With these tips, you can be proactive in keeping your spine healthy! Are you already experiencing back pain? Schedule an appointment with one of our spine specialists!

Why Dr. Zaslavsky Loves Cervical Disc Replacement:

  • Maintains normal range of motion of the cervical spine:
    Patients love that their neck feels mobile and moves freely immediately after surgery.
  • There is less risk of one of the disks above or below the surgery degenerating:
    This means fewer people will require a second procedure 10 or 15 years down the road. With the fusion, the chance of needing another surgery is probably about 10 to 15%.  With the replacement, it could be as little as 5%!
  • No bone graft and no fusion mean the ability to go back to activities much earlier!
    Because we’re not waiting for a fusion to occur there are no limitations in the postoperative protocol. You can move your neck freely immediately after surgery and start to resume your activities as soon as you are physically comfortable. Many times physical therapy is not necessary for these reasons.

Overall the patients love that their neck feels natural and that their pain is gone almost immediately.   The rapid return to function makes the procedure extremely rewarding for our patients and also for Dr Z!

Dr. Zaslavsky’s 5 Quick Tips For Preparing for Cervical Surgery

  1. Read about the procedure the doctor recommends! Knowing what the procedure is will help you address the right questions in order to prepare for surgery and alleviate anxiety.
  2. Take lots of vitamin C and stay away from sick contacts. I want you to go into surgery healthy to minimize the risk of complications.
  3. Get lots of rest in the weeks before surgery.  This will recharge your internal battery and promote a healthy recovery process to go smoothly.
  4. Try to decrease your use of pain medications. Your body becomes tolerant of the substances and they will be less effective in treating your post-surgical pain.  There are other alternatives, ask your physician about them.
  5. Try to relax. If you’ve done your homework and picked the right surgeon, that should put your mind at ease. Stress will decrease the healing response and is not helpful to you before your procedure.

What is Causing Your Neck Pain? 4 Things We Do Every Day

Is there a constant pain in your neck that just doesn’t ever seem to go away? You haven’t experienced an injury, so why is your neck bothering you?
Often the explanation is not easy to decipher and diagnosing the cause can be frustrating. Never dismiss potential “self-inflicted” causes of neck pain.
Here are 4 everyday things we have all been guilty of and ways to correct the bad habit:

  1. Sleeping on your stomach: In order to sleep on your stomach your head must turn; the neck was not created to stay in that position for hours at a time.  Correct the problem by sleeping on your back or side with the right support.
  2. Holding your cell phone with your shoulder: This position can pinch nerves in your neck resulting in pain, numbness and tingling throughout the neck, shoulder, arm, or hand. Try using an earpiece or headset regularly, you will be surprised at the difference it will make.
  3. Looking down. Whether you’re angling your head down to view your computer screen or using your phone all day, you are putting a lot of pressure on your neck. The regularity in which we engage in these activities adds up and can damage for your neck over time. Correct this by concentrating on good posture. If at a computer raise the screen so the top of the screen lines up with your forehead. If using your phone, hold it higher to decrease the angel of your neck.
  4. Carrying items only on one side. Carrying your purse, brief case or backpack consistently on one side can lead to stubborn neck pain and arthritic conditions in your spine. Start being conscious of what side you carry these items on and regularly alternate.

The neck (or cervical spine) is intended for strength and nerve communication. There are several complications that cause not only neck pain but can irritate the head, shoulder, arms and hands.

Follow us on Facebook as we continue our video series by our own Dr. James Zaslavsky.

If you have back pain or back problems, make an appointment with one of First State Spine’s specialists for recommendations on which exercise program would be best for you.

It’s time to get a handle on your spine health and live free of pain! However, always check with your physician to see if these tips are safe to follow based on your health history.

3 Road Trip Tips For Summer Travel

Do you have a bucket list for your summer? Maybe it includes lazy days in Rehoboth, catching waves in Wildwood, heading to Washington D.C. to check out some museums or up to New York to catch some shows. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 91% of summer travel is done by driving in the car; with an average mileage of 284 miles. As a Delawarean, you probably agree that one of many great things about Delaware is we are relatively close to many great attractions. As you get ready for your summer adventures, remember these road trip tips to stay safe, comfortable and protect your spine!

Clear the Area
Ever get ready to go and realize you have room for everything but your feet?! To stay safe, you need to have a clear area. Your feet should be able to rest at a 90-degree angle and have room to stretch for blood circulation throughout your ride. Make sure your seat is also clear. Avoid sitting on phones and wallets, or resting against your bulging purse or cooler.

Customize Your Seat
You are going to be sitting for a while, so adjust the seat for your body. Make sure you can sit upright, without having to lean back and forward continuously. Tilt your seat up just a tad so your knees can rest comfortably at a 90-degree angle on the ground but also take pressure off your spine. Support your lower back by adding a pillow, inserts or cushioned object so it can rest comfortably.

Stop Every 2 Hours – Stretch!
The best thing for road trip success is stretching! Stretch before, stretch during, and stretch after. We understand that once you go, you just want to get there; but scheduling a 15-minute stop every 2 hours should be a minimum to help relieve tension in your body.

With these tips we know your road trip will be a success! Happy Traveling from the team at First State Spine!

If you have back pain or back problems, make an appointment with one of First State Spine’s specialists for recommendations on which exercise program would be best for you.

It’s time to get a handle on your spine health and live free of pain! However, always check with your physician to see if these tips are safe to follow based on your health history.

BACKPACK BASICS: Prevent Back & Neck Pain

BACK TO SCHOOL: Backpack Basics

Regardless if your child is off to college, high school or their first day of kindergarten one item on top of everyone’s back to school list is a backpack. Kids’ backpacks easily get weighed down and can quickly cause back & neck pain if they’re too heavy and carried all day.

Here are some backpack basics from your trusted team at First State Spine:

When buying a backpack, pay attention to the following:

  • Avoid the Sling – we know all the cool kids have one, but this style puts all the weight on one shoulder, which can cause pain in the back and neck.  Always go for two straps so weight is distributed evenly!
  • The Straps – the straps of your child’s backpack should be wide and padded so they do not dig into shoulders.
  • Think Lightweight – Everything going in the backpack is heavy enough, so the backpack itself should be light.

When wearing a backpack, prevent back pain by doing the following:

  • Use those Lockers – encourage your child to make frequent stops at their lockers throughout the day and not carry everything with them all day.
  • The 10% Rule – The AAOS recommends that a child shouldn’t carry a backpack that exceeds 15%-20% of their body weight. Use 10% as a conservative percentage, better safe than sorry!
    Backpack Weights
  • The Straps – The backpack should fall roughly two inches above your child’s waist so tighten the straps appropriately. In addition, use both straps to distribute the weight evenly.
  • Use those Arms – remind your child that they don’t have to carry it all in their backpack. If for some reason they don’t have time to stop at their locker, they can carry a couple books in their arms.

The team at First State Spine wishes everyone a great school year ahead!

If you have back pain or back problems, make an appointment with one of First State Spine’s specialists for recommendations on which exercise program would be best for you.

It’s time to get a handle on your spine health and live free of pain! However, always check with your physician to see if these tips are safe to follow based on your health history.

CYCLING: 3 Ways to Keep Your Spine Safe!

Cycling is an excellent form of exercise that is safe for your spine as long as you do it correctly. Follow these important tips to ensure you are protecting your spine on your next ride:


1. Get the Right Fit
It is crucial that your bike is fit correctly for you. Is your seat the right height? Are your handlebars close enough to your body? What about your pedal position? Any of these could cause an incorrect riding posture resulting in unnecessary back pain. Go to a local bike shop and have an expert determine the proper fit and make adjustments as needed.

HiRes_Cycle Graphic

2.  Loosen Up and Keep Those Gears in Check
First, be sure to warm up your muscles before getting on the road, making them less prone to injury. Second, allow your body to better absorb any shocks that may jar your back by not gripping the handlebars too tight and by keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Lastly, know your limits! Do not push yourself with higher gears as this could strain your lower back.

3.  Flexibility and Core Strength
Core strength and flexibility is crucial in avoiding back pain while cycling. Your core muscles keep you balanced as you ride so it is not hard for them to become fatigued. In addition to core strength, cyclist who have little flexibility in their back and hamstring muscles are much more susceptible to strains and other lower back problems. Make sure you incorporate core exercises and stretching into your workout regimen to keep you free from injury on your next bike ride.

Happy Cycling from the team at First State Spine!

If you have back pain or back problems, make an appointment with one of First State Spine’s specialists for recommendations on which exercise program would be best for you.

It’s time to get a handle on your spine health and live free of pain! However, always check with your physician to see if these tips are safe to follow based on your health history.

Back pain during running: Tips for long distance runners

Running FSSLow back pain and stiffness is common among runners and is often contributed to mechanical inefficiencies. Here are some tips to prevent low back stress during a long distance run:

Stretch Those Hips
The hip flexors must be flexible enough to allow hip extension equal to the trunk. Make sure your stretches combine flexion, extension, and abduction for both hips while protecting the lower back.

Wear Proper Footwear
Wearing improper footwear that does not provide sufficient shock absorption is a contributing factor to back pain for runners. It is imperative to look for shoes with good shock absorption.

Pay Attention to Your Arm Swing
Practice a strong forward and back arm swing. Keep in mind an efficient arm swing will create no more than about an inch of trunk rotation in each direction.

Hinge at the Hip
Sustaining forward-trunk momentum is an important component of low back pain prevention. This position allows the hips to extend without putting pressure on the lower back.

Lumbar Stability
A lumbar-extended position is necessary; it helps position the pelvis and hips for optimal form.


Use these tips to ensure you reduce the stress on your back, and maximize hip mobility and strength over the course of your long distance run. For all you runners braving the Broad Street Run or Delaware Marathon over the next couple of weeks, GOOD LUCK from the team at First State Spine!

Sitting in an office chair with back pain right now?

FSS Office Syndrome InfographicDid you realize back pain is often caused by ordinary work activities such as sitting in an office chair? Prolonged activity and poor posture are major contributors to “office syndrome”. We created this infographic for the many people who suffer from back pain due to poor ergonomics. Make sure to print it out as a constant reminder for a healthy spine!

6 Tips for a safe, injury-free work out

Protecting your back may not be a priority when you start your workout routine. However, it is imperative to remember that while strengthening one muscle group, you could be damaging another. In many cases, it is your back.

Tweaking your routine can help ensure that you’re protecting your back from injury. Here are 6 tips to protect your back while you workout:

1. Warm-Up
Your muscles will be stiff and more susceptible to injury without a warm-up. Before you start your workout spend at least 5 minutes doing mild exercises like side bends and trunk rotations. These moves get you ready to go!

2. Stretching
That seated floor stretch you’ve been doing since grade school could be causing you to low back pain. Reaching for your toes this way could compress the lumbar spine. Instead, try stretching your hamstring by lying on your back. Raising one leg toward the ceiling, knee slightly bent, with your other leg straight on the floor. Place your hand behind your knee (slightly above or below the actual knee joint) and gradually pull your leg toward you for 20 seconds, then switch sides.

3. Planks
Support your abs as though you are about to take a punch to the stomach. Contracting your core as though you are filling that space rather than sucking it in will better support your spine and back muscles.

4. Sit-Ups
Crunches and sit-ups are effective exercises, but they put a substantial pressure on the low back. Try doing them on a stability ball. This supports your back and allows for a fuller range of motion. This method also incorporates the hips and gluteus; which helps reduce tension on the spine.

5. Running
Running is an excellent workout, but poor form can lead to a sore back and neck. Whether you are running indoors or out, keep an upright posture with a slight forward lean and always maintain a straight-ahead gaze.

6. Cycling
Cycling is a wonderful low-impact cardio exercise, however many cyclists experience back pain. When you ride squeeze your glutes, drop your shoulders away from your ears, and bend your elbows slightly to help absorb shock. Make sure you not only push, but also pull the pedals as you cycle.