The starting point for fixing back pain is to pin-point its origin.
“Is it purely muscular, that physical therapy can help? Is it a disc problem? Is it a nerve problem?” says Dr. Donna Lanthier.
Dr. Lanthier is the point person at Lee Memorial Health System’s comprehensive Spine Center. Back pain can be arthritic, traumatic, or neurologic.
“Certain nerves refer all the way down the leg, even though the problem is actually starting where the nerve exits from the back.”
The Spine Center groups specialists under one roof to diagnose and address back problems. While it is the nerve center in treating pain, it is also a referral source for surgery. Which should be a last resort.
“The way that most referrals go, is if anyone has any back pain or neck pain issues they come to a neurosurgeon to get the opinion. The problem is, only a small fraction of the patients will actually benefit from surgery,” explains Lee Memorial Health System neurologist Dr. Dean Lin.
It often results in a delay of care. Starting at a Spine Center puts patients in a position to find relief.
“X-rays are available in this building. MRIs are available here, physical therapy and then if needed they can get injections as well,” says Dr. Lanthier. “We can refer to neurosurgeons if the treatment here doesn’t take care of the problem.”
Compressed or pinched nerves may lead to spine surgery, along with cases involving uncontrollable pain, trouble walking, and difficulty with fine motor control. Taking a systematic approach is proving to be a better method of beating back pain.
“If that patient can be taken care of more quickly and gotten out of pain more quickly then that would be the ideal situation. If they need an operation then that’s what we’re here for,” says Dr. Lin.