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What You Need to Know About Degenerative Disc Disease

One of the most common causes of low back and neck pain stems from degenerative disc disease. This condition is caused by wear and tear on the spinal discs in your back. It typically develops into a low-level chronic pain, which can increase to include sporadic periods of intense pains. It can also cause numbness, shooting pains, and weakness in your arms or legs as well.

Who Gets Degenerative Disc Disease?

Anyone can develop degenerative disc disease. Most doctors believe there are three contributing factors that increase the likelihood of developing this back pain condition.

  1. At birth, spinal discs are roughly 80% water. As we age, however, this number decreases. When spinal discs dry out, they no longer absorb shocks as well as they once did. Because spinal discs create a cushion between each vertebrae, the drying out process can lead to pain.
  2. Daily activities, such as lifting and turning, as well as sports, can increase the wear and tear on spinal discs. In fact, these activities can cause tearing in the outer core of each disc, leading to an increased likelihood of developing degenerative disc disease.
  3. Injuries can also contribute to degenerative disc disease. These include injuries that cause instability, soreness or swelling around the spine.

It is important to note, however, that not everyone will develop degenerative disc disease, regardless of activities and injuries. It is also not the sole cause of back pains and should only be diagnosed once other potential illnesses have been ruled out.

Will I Need Back Pain Surgery?

Not all patients who experience degenerative disc disease need surgery. However, in severe cases, or when spinal fractures occur, back pain surgery is recommended. Before surgery, however, most doctors will begin treatment with one or a combination of medicine, physical therapy and steroid shots.

Manhattan’s Top Spine Surgeon

No one should have to live with chronic pain. Dr. Paul M. Brisson, MD understands that each patient is a unique case. As an experience orthopedic spinal surgeon, Dr. Brisson works with you, your referring doctor and special diagnostic testing to develop the best approach to your personal back pain treatment. Starting with the least invasive methods, such as stretching, exercises, and physical therapy – Dr. Brisson tailors your treatment to specifically target your pain. From the initial visit and throughout your treatment, Dr. Brisson will walk you through each step to ensure you understand the details.

Contact us today if you would like to schedule an appointment with the best spinal surgeon in Manhattan.


4 Question to Ask When Looking For an Orthopedic Surgeon in Manhattan NYC

Orthopedic surgery raises numerous questions from curious patients. Communicating with your orthopedic surgeon is crucial to understanding your procedure and the recovery period thereafter. Here’s what you should ask before visiting an orthopedic surgeon in Manhattan NYC.

  1. What are the risks involved with orthopedic surgery?

Depending on your specific needs, your surgery may include a different set of risk factors. Discuss your potential reaction to anesthesia, the possibility or nerve damage, blood coagulation, and scar reformation. Your Manhattan NYC orthopedic surgeon will have information that is specific to your symptoms and impacted area.

  1. Will this surgery reduce symptoms or correct problems? 

Not every surgical procedure is designed to correct issues you may be facing. It’s important to understand what the outcome of your specific procedure will be. This will give insight into your recovery process, and open the discussion for future procedures, should they be required.

  1. How long will the recovery period last?

There’s no way to predict your personal recovery period; it is particular to your symptoms and the nature of your surgery. Your Manhattan NYC orthopedic surgeon will be equipped to outline your potential recovery time. Discuss this at length with your provider to fully understand every aspect of recovery.

  1. Request More Information

You should always ask your orthopedic surgeon about success rates of previous patients, materials that you may view regarding your procedure, and the likelihood of needing home assistance during your recovery process. Ask your orthopedic surgeon why they’ve requested this particular type of procedure, and what their expectations for post-surgery improvements are.

Your orthopedic surgeon will not pressure you into surgery; it is always open to discuss what may/may not happen if you decide not to undergo surgery. Based on their experience, your orthopedic surgeon will have a detailed understanding of the long-term effects that your specific case could have on your joints.

To discuss your next orthopedic surgery, contact the office of Dr. Brisson, one of the most trusted orthopedic surgery Manhattan NYC practices.

5 Pain Relief Stretches From Your Sciatica Manhattan NY Doctor

Sciatica can be extremely disruptive to your day—there’s no telling what twists and turns it’s going to take today, but either way, you know it’s not going to be comfortable. Here are five pain relief stretches recommended by your sciatica Manhattan NY doctor.

  1. Pigeon Pose

This was originally a yoga move but works great to alleviate sciatica pain. There are many ways to do this stretch; most commonly, you will lay on your back, and then pull one leg straight up, locking your fingers behind your thigh. Drop your ankle atop the knee of your other leg, and use the second leg to pull your first leg inward. This stretches out your muscles and opens up the hips.

  1. Backwards Stretch

This is another position where you’ll be laying on the floor. Pull up your affected leg, and put your ankle flat on the floor just outside of your stationary legs’ knee. From here, stretch the middle of your body in the direction of your affected leg. The key to this is knowing when you feel the stretch, and not overworking yourself and hurting yourself in the process.

  1. To the Shoulder Stretch

While lying on the floor, cross your affected leg directly over your other knee. The trick to this is aligning it properly so you don’t hurt yourself. Pull back both of your legs, bringing the affected leg towards your shoulder. Be sure to hold that position for as long as you can, no more than 30 seconds, and you should feel the full effect.

  1. Bedside Sciatica Stretch

Sometimes, you’ve slept incorrectly, and it’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning. This one is very simple. Pull your knees inward to your chest while laying on your back in bed, and hold them there for no more than 30 seconds. If you feel relief, do this two more times before getting out of bed.

  1. Bedside Back Crane

This is another great stretch you can do in bed. Lay on your stomach, put your hands directly out in front of you like the Sphinx, and gently curve your back until your head is in an upward

Advantages of Bloodless Spine Surgery NYC

Bloodless surgery focuses around minimizing the amount of blood loss during and post-surgery. Information on bloodless surgery provides insight into various questions often raised by patients. Bloodless spine surgery can provide increased survival rates, shorter recovery times, and narrow the scope of potential issues found during the surgical process.

Less Invasive Means

Avoiding the possibility of blood transfusions during surgery will lead to a quicker recovery time. This also means you run zero risks of receiving infected blood or receiving the wrong type of blood in a transfusion. Certain risks are eliminated, while others diminish, such as cardiac arrest and immunological complications.

Your Hospital Stay is Reduced 

One common concern among patients is the length of their hospital stay. By reducing the necessity for invasive procedures, your recovery time is reduced. Shorter hospital stays are coupled with easier recovery at home. After receiving spinal surgery, your full recovery time can span from six weeks up until one year, depending on the specific procedure. Bloodless surgery minimizes that time.

Reducing Costs to Patients 

Patients with minimal coverage insurance or those who are self-pay often worry about the initial cost of receiving any surgery. Bloodless surgery reduces hospital costs, the number of days spent in the hospital, and the need for blood draws beforehand.

Is Bloodless Surgery For Me? 

If you’re wondering if bloodless surgery is an option you would like to explore, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I worried about receiving the wrong blood in a transfusion?
  • Do I want to risk the potential problems with large volumes of blood loss?
  • Can I afford to spend extra days in hospitalized care?
  • Am I nervous about post-surgical complications?
  • Will my allergies get in the way of traditional surgical approaches?

Bloodless surgery takes many of the associated risks out of the equation. If you fear allergic reactions, responding poorly to blood transfusions, or you’re generally concerned about the entire process of undergoing surgery, bloodless spine surgery may be an option for you.

Contact the office of Dr. Brisson today to schedule a consultation and receive additional information about your candidacy for bloodless spine surgery in NYC.

Top 3 Post Surgery Tips From Your Spine Surgeon In NYC

Invasive or bloodless, spine surgery takes its toll on you. As the column on which we all lean, our spine can’t seem to get a break, even when we’re relaxing in post-op conditions. You’re always using it, so you should take the absolute best care possible to ensure you don’t undo any of the positive effects of surgery, or further damage your spinal column. Here’s what you can do after you’ve found the best spine surgeon  NYC has to offer, and you’re in the recovery phase.

Short Bursts of Exercise

Recovery doesn’t mean you should allow the rest of your body to atrophy while your spine undergoes revitalization. Plan three short bursts (10 minutes each) of walking every single day. This will allow your spine to heal, but also remind your body that you’re not neglecting it. Once recovery is over, you’ll be firing on all cylinders, and feeling better than ever before.

Avoid Bending, Lifting, and Twisting

If you hear the acronym BLT at your time in a spine surgeons New York office, they’re actually not talking about lunch. Bending, lifting, and twisting are the three main things you’re going to want to avoid. Be conscious of your spine, and the rest of your body while you’re in recovery mode. It’s second nature to bend over to grab something that you’ve dropped, or to twist around sharply when someone grabs your attention. Keep reminding yourself that your recovery is important, and to limit your spinal movements to short bursts of walking and light motions.


So you’re getting back on your feet, and that’s good. You’ll want to take special care of your incision wound, and that’s no easy task when it’s in an unreachable position. While your post-op therapist and doctor will both reinforce this, it’s good to set timers or reminders to clean the area with a light, gentle sponge every four to six hours. In most cases, you’ll be perfectly okay sooner rather than later, but you never want to play it too carefully. Excessive sweating over the course of a single night’s sleep, or sitting in one area for too long, can cause unhygienic bacterial growth around your incision area.

The number one thing you should do post-op is committing to your follow-up appointment with your spine surgeon NYC office, as well as listen to the advice and professional opinion of your post-op therapist. While the work may seem tedious, both only have your best interest at heart, and wish you to make a speedy recovery, while also ensuring that everything during your surgery went off without a hitch.

Contact us for more information about our procedures. We’d be happy to help you!

How a Top New York Spinal Surgeon Can Help Diagnose a Spinal Fracture & Help You Heal

Spinal fractures are serious, and should never be left untreated or unattended. Utilizing top-grade x-ray machinery and methods, Dr. Brisson will determine your specific type of fracture, and suggest a course of action. Different diagnostic tools will be used for different types of fractures, such as:

  • Spinal X-Ray: This will determine if a vertebra has collapsed, and is usually the first step to diagnosing your case.
  • CT Scan: These scans will provide Dr. Brisson with further insight into the state of your fractured bone and surrounding nerves.
  • MRI Scan: If nerve damage has been detected, an MRI will give in-depth analysis of damage, and give insight into the state of your discs.

If you’re experiencing spinal pain, or have been in an accident, you need the top New York spinal surgeon to provide professional analysis and propose a course of action to get you feeling like yourself again.

Slight Spinal Fractures

These are defined as fractures which leave small fragments of bone to pinch your nerves, or dislocate your vertebrae. Depending on the severity of your spinal fracture, you may experience spasms in the muscles of your back. Ligament pain can be common. Slight spinal fractures aren’t always simple to diagnose. Put your trust in the top New York spinal surgeon; going directly to the ER can often lead to misdiagnosis, where you will be prescribed medication to remedy your problem—not fix it.


One of the most common spine-related injuries is whiplash, caused by a rapid jerk of the head, usually in a motor vehicle accident. Some cases of whiplash can be severe, and lead to lifelong issues. With the top New York spinal surgeon to diagnose your case, and act on the best possible route, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Severe Spinal Fractures

These are diagnosed fairly easily, as you will often encounter pain and/or difficulty walking. In some cases, it can lead to temporary paralysis, where bone fragments are pressing down on nerves, rendering sections of your body useless. In most cases of a severe fracture, it will not heal on its own, and you will require the aid of the top New York spinal surgeon for an immediate solution.

Spinal fractures are never to be taken lightly, as they can lead to lifelong debilitating issues when left unchecked. To put the top New York spinal surgeon in your corner, contact the office of Dr. Brisson at (212) 813-3631.







Tips for Treating a Herniated Disc from an Expert Manhattan Spinal Surgeon

A herniated disc, sometimes known as a slipped disc or a ruptured disc, occurs when one of the cushioning pads between the vertebrae slips out of place and presses on nerves surrounding the area. While this sounds extremely serious, herniated discs are actually a relatively common spine condition and are usually caused by overuse or trauma to the spine. Here are a few tips for effectively treating a herniated disc so you can go back to being pain-free.

Strengthening Exercises- Keeping your back strong is a good way to keep a herniated disc at bay, as well as to prevent further injuries. Once you’re feeling better, begin doing exercises designed to strengthen and stabilize your lower back muscles. Start off slowly, then increase the duration and level of exercise at regular intervals. Stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates are a good way to build strength and improve flexibility in your spine. Ask your chiropractor for recommendations on the best back-strengthening exercises for you.

Weight Loss- When you are carrying around a few extra pounds (or more!) it makes your back have to work harder to support that extra body weight, which can lead to unnecessary pressure on your spine. With proper diet and exercise, you can lose weight, which will cut down on the heavy lifting you’re always doing. Your spine will thank you!

Massage- Deep-tissue massage is an especially effective way to treat a herniated disc. The large amount of pressure that is used to relieve tension in your muscles also helps to keep muscles from moving at the source of your back pain. Some health insurance plans cover deep-tissue massage as a physical therapy treatment. Contact your health insurance provider for more information on deep-tissue massage therapists who accept your plan.

Hydrotherapy- A fancy name for something that can be as simple as sitting in a whirlpool bath or taking hot showers, hydrotherapy uses water to relax your muscles, which in turn can relieve the pain of a herniated disc. Active hydrotherapy, such as water aerobics, has also proven effective in helping strengthen your body without having to put stress on your herniated disc.

Surgical Treatment- If your herniated disc is causing you chronic or debilitating pain, surgery may be your best option. Your spine surgeon can determine whether surgery is necessary or whether he or she can treat your herniated disc non-surgically through methods such as physical therapy.

Dr. Paul M. Brisson, MD is the leading spine surgeon in Manhattan, with years of dedicated experience specializing in herniated disc treatment. Dr. Brisson is conveniently located in Manhattan, and can help you get your life back on track and manage your back pain effectively. Call Dr. Brisson’s office today at 212-813-3632 to schedule your spinal consultation.

What to Know When Choosing The Best Manhattan Spine Surgeon

For Manhattan residents who are in need of spine surgery, it can be difficult to choose the right spine surgeon who best fits each patient’s individual needs. Whether your surgery is elective or mandatory, you want to know that you are in the most capable hands that Manhattan has to offer. Here are a few things to look for when choosing a spine surgeon in the New York City area.

Ask Questions

If your Google search or insurance provider website has led you to a spine surgeon in your area, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask questions. After all, this is spine surgery we’re talking about- you want to know beyond a doubt that you can trust this surgeon to perform the operation successfully and leave your spine in good health following the procedure. Some questions you might want to ask:

“How long have you been in practice?”
“Have you performed this type of surgery before?”
“How many times have you performed this surgery?”
“What is the success rate for this procedure?”

Asking questions might seem awkward at first, but it is important to make sure your surgery will be performed by a reputable, trustworthy doctor with a good deal of experience with the exact type of spine surgery you need.

Check Up on Your Spine Surgeon in Manhattan

Thanks to Google, Yelp, and websites that allow patients to rate their doctors, it is now easier than ever to get information about your spine surgeon, as well as read reviews from past patients. If you spot any potential red flags, you can schedule an appointment with a different surgeon, which will potentially save you a lot of time, money and headaches down the road. Just remember- your surgeon should be there for you during your procedure, with a kind and efficient bedside manner that puts you at ease and a track record for excellence and professionalism.

Be Honest

During your initial phone call or consultation, if there is something about the spine surgeon that you find intimidating, off-putting or just wrong, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere for a doctor who can perform the surgery. It doesn’t have to be any major reason- sometimes personalities just clash! By being honest with yourself and trusting your instincts, you can avoid a number of problems, which can then free your mind up so you can relax and be calm about your upcoming spine procedure.

Dr. Paul M. Brisson is the leading spine surgeon in Manhattan for a variety of spinal conditions, including Sciatica, herniated disk, and spinal stenosis.

Dr. Brisson has been practicing in the New York City area for over 25 years, and is a certified orthopedic spinal surgeon who has been dubbed “the best back pain doctor in New York City” by his loyal following of patients. Dr. Brisson was highlighted on the cover of New York Magazine’s Best Doctors in New York issue. Dr. Brisson is here to help effectively manage your back pain and get you back to your life as soon as possible!

Call Dr. Brisson’s Manhattan office today to schedule your initial consultation at 212-813-3631 and get ready to see what New York’s best spine surgeon can do for you!

Tips For Managing Back Pain in Manhattan

Suffering from back pain? You’re not alone. An estimated 10.2% of Americans live with chronic lower back pain, according to a 2009 study from the University of North Carolina. Not only that, but it is estimated that 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. With these statistics, it’s important to know how to effectively manage back pain so it doesn’t end up putting a damper on your everyday activities. Here are some things you can do to keep the pain at bay.


Don’t Stop Moving

Keeping your body moving is essential for back pain recovery. Though it may feel immobilizing, back pain will subside more quickly the more you gently work your muscles. Start out light with low-impact activities like walking, and then once your back pain subsides, keep up the pace with aerobic activities such as swimming and cycling to keep your back muscles in good shape. Just don’t overdo it!


Ice is Nice

The first 24 to 48 hours after a back injury or flare-up of your chronic back pain, chill out with some ice. Apply an ice pack to the affected area of your back for 20 minutes, then take it off for another 20 minutes, repeating until your back pain has decreased. After 48 hours of this, you can switch to heat, but using a heating pad within the first two days of a back injury or chronic back pain flare up can actually worsen the inflammation of the affected spot, slowing recovery.


Get Strong

Once you have recovered from your most recent bout of back pain, start an exercise regimen that will strengthen your abdominal, hip and pelvic muscles, as this will take the pressure off of your spine and provide your back with more support. Developing your back muscles can also help prevent against future back pain episodes by strengthening the areas that support your lower back. Just be careful with your exercise regimen- overdoing it can lead to another back injury.


Stretch it Out

Stretching your back is good for you, and feels amazing! Next time you’re at your desk at work or sitting on the TV, take a break to stretch out your back muscles. Experts recommend standing and stretching slightly backward every 20 minutes or so during a task that has you sitting for long periods of time. Practicing stretching exercises and yoga can also help alleviate the pressure in your back, so brush up on your downward dog!


Posture is Important

Your mother was right- you shouldn’t slouch. Simply making an effort to stand up straight without slumping your shoulders can make a big difference in the amount of back pain you experience. When you slouch, you’re making it harder for your back to support your weight. Maintaining good posture keeps your center of gravity in better balance, allowing your back to do less heavy lifting.


Lift With the Knees

Speaking of heavy lifting, we all know that you shouldn’t bend from the waist to lift heavy objects, but most of us do it anyway. If you need to lift something, make sure to bend from your knees, not your back. Better yet, leave the lifting to someone who doesn’t have chronic back pain or a recent back injury.

By developing healthy habits and modifying a few everyday practices, you can keep your back in better shape, lessening the recurrence of chronic back pain flare-ups. For more serious issues that require spinal surgery, New York orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Paul Brisson is here to help. Dr. Brisson specializes in diagnosing and treating all spine-related issues, including sciatica, herniated disks and spinal stenosis, and offers comprehensive treatment and spinal surgery in the Manhattan area. For New York residents who are suffering from chronic back pain, Dr. Brisson can help you get your life back on track. Call 212-813-3632 for an initial consultation with Dr. Brisson and his team of caring professionals. Make back pain a thing of the past- contact Dr. Paul Brisson today!




When to Seek Treatment for Sciatica

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with shooting pain down one hip, or if you experience pain, tingling or numbness in your leg with no explanation, you may be one of the millions of Americans affected by sciatica. While sciatica is not a diagnosis in and of itself, it can be a symptom of an underlying cause, such as spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, or degenerative disc disease. Dr. Paul Brisson, Manhattan’s premier orthopaedic surgeon, can help find the cause of your sciatica and provide effective treatment so you can get past the pain and get on with your life.

What Causes Sciatica?

Sciatica can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain. Characteristics of sciatica include constant, shooting pain that is only in one leg or on one side of the buttocks, which gets worse when sitting. The leg pain sometimes presents itself as tingling and numbness, and radiates down the affected leg into the foot and toes. This pain and tingling is caused by the sciatic nerve, which runs down the leg from the lower back, through the buttock, When you have an underlying spinal issue, the sciatic nerve can become irritated or compressed, causing the symptoms of sciatica. Women who are pregnant or have recently given birth are prone to sciatica, as are overweight or obese individuals; however, sciatica can affect anyone at a given time, and be an indicator of more severe spine problems including a herniated or compressed disc, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, lumbar spinal stenosis, isthmic spondylolisthesis, and degenerative disc disease.

Treatment for Sciatica

When sciatica strikes, some at-home treatments such as alternating ice and heat at 20-minute intervals can help sufferers find relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Motrin can also help alleviate the sciatic pain. However, if pain persists, you should schedule a visit with an orthopaedic specialist. Your orthopaedist can properly examine your spine and help find the root cause of your sciatica. While spinal surgery may be recommended to treat lumbar disc herniation or spinal stenosis, other non-surgical methods of treatment, including physical therapy, may be administered first. If you do opt for spinal surgery, keep in mind that approximately 90% of orthopaedic surgery patients report total sciatic pain relief following their procedure.

If your sciatica has gotten to the point where your sleep, normal daily activities, and overall quality of life has been adversely affected and at-home treatments are ineffective, it may be time to seek professional treatment. For residents of Manhattan and surrounding areas, Dr. Paul Brisson is the preferred choice for orthopaedic surgery and treatment. Dr. Brisson has years of experience in accurately and effectively diagnosing and treating a variety of back problems which cause sciatica, and will help you get to the root of your sciatic pain so you can get your life back on track. For your initial consultation appointment, call Dr. Paul Brisson’s office at 212-813-3632 today, and get ready to say goodbye to sciatica!

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