Georgia Comprehensive Spine-
Regional Spine Center
At some time in their lives, most people will have an attack of back or neck pain. Thatís the bad news. The good news is that, 80% of the time, these back or neck pain symptoms will go away on their own with time, some anti-inflammatory medicine and movement.
Itís the other 20% of those with back and neck symptoms who develop complex problems over time.† Many of these pain sufferers are doomed to endless visits to the back doctor. That's because once a person has their first back pain attack, they are four times more likely to have a recurrence.
The problem with back pain and neck pain treatment is that spine care is highly fragmented among a variety of specialists who office in different locations. Consequently, the patient often makes a time-consuming and frustrating journey to doctors, therapists, surgeons, chiropractors, acupuncturists and pain management doctors. Unfortunately, many of these specialists can be biased toward their own specialty.
Also, these doctors may not communicate with each other about the patientís status and progress; so with every stop, the back pain patient has to start from scratch and develop a new medical record in every location. Such is the fragmented journey experienced by those with back or neck pain.
If you have back or neck pain, Georgia Comprehensive Spine is now in a better position to help.
Recognizing that the best way to care for complex health problems is through a Center of Excellence approach, Georgia Neurological Surgery founded Georgia Comprehensive Spine in 2010. Georgia Comprehensive Spine is a work in progress, combining the efforts of non-surgical spine specialists and spine neurosurgeons to develop a regional referral center for back and neck pain over the next five years in the northeast Georgia region.
At this time, the spine center includes four spine neurosurgeons, a physical medicine doctor (physiatrist), and a McKenzie certified physical therapist ó all under one roof for the convenience of those with back and neck pain.
For spine therapy, Georgia Comprehensive Spine is also working with spine specialized physical therapists in a variety of other locations who are willing to follow our treatment guidelines for active therapy. These centers use our home exercise protocols so patients going through therapy receive a customized home exercise program as part of their therapy and recovery. This way, patients can obtain therapy in a more convenient location closer to their homes, rather than traveling to Athens for therapy.
If spine surgery is necessary, Georgia Comprehensive Spine makes use of one of the newest ambulatory surgery centers in Athens. Those patients who ultimately need spine surgery for herniated discs or vertebrae problems can often have their surgery in an outpatient setting so they can be discharged the same day to recover in their own homes.
By having it all in one place, the back pain patient no longer has to drive to multiple locations, or to Atlanta, for the best spine care.
The spine center includes the expertise of the following spine specialists:
NON-SURGICAL SPINE CARE & PAIN MANAGEMENT:
A nonsurgical approach to back and neck pain
What makes our spine center unique is its emphasis on non-surgical treatment options for most back and neck problems. Georgia Comprehensive Spine involves a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, Dr. Cristian Jaliu, who specializes in non-surgical treatment of back and neck pain. Dr. Jaliu is often able to help many patients resolve their back or neck pain symptoms without the need for spine surgery.
Dr. Jaliu is fellowship-trained, which is the highest level of medical training available in his specialty niche. As the Medical Director of Georgia Comprehensive Spine, Dr. Jaliu assesses new back and neck pain patients and manages their care and therapy. For those patients who are in too much pain to start therapy, Dr. Jaliu is trained in spinal injections. These injections can apply pain-relieving medicine directly to the inflamed nerve root more effectively than a pill. An injection can, in many cases, reduce inflammation around a nerve root, which in turn alleviates the symptom of radiating pain into a leg or arm, or neurological symptoms like weakness or numbness into an extremity.
Sometimes, though, spine surgery may be unavoidable. This may occur because symptoms of radiating pain have not responded to non-surgical treatment options like injection therapy or customized spine physical therapy.
In other cases, some symptoms like weakness or numbness in a leg or hand, or loss of control of bowel or bladder, represent emergency symptoms where back or neck surgery must be done quickly to prevent permanent paralysis of the nerves that relate to these muscles or extremities.
When spine surgery is necessary
If your back or neck problem requires surgery, Georgia Comprehensive Spine has spine neurosurgeons who already are referred the most complex surgical cases across northeast Georgia. These cases include herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, vertebrae problems, facet joint pain and spinal tumor.
These spine neurosurgeons use some of the most advanced instrumentation and spine surgery techniques, including artificial disc replacement. Because of the minimally invasive techniques used by the Georgia Comprehensive Spine surgeons, Dr. John Cuff, Dr. Kimberly Walpert, Dr. Bryan Barnes and Dr. Harlan Bruner, many patients are able to undergo spine surgery in the morning in the group’s ambulatory surgery center, GNS Surgery Center, without the hassle and red tape of a hospital admission, and then return home the same day to recover in the comfort of their own homes.
Pain Relief Through a Focus on Function
Pain is a signal from the body to the brain that something is wrong. Either the back is too weak, too inflexible, something lifted was too heavy or the wrong body mechanics were used. And, unfortunately, those doctors who focus exclusively on pain symptoms often recommend a course of treatment that is the exact opposite of what the individual needs to recover from the back problem.
Years ago, for example, doctors treated back pain with bed rest and heavy drugs to mask the discomfort. It was found, however, that this type of treatment was actually damaging to the back, because it caused muscles in the back to get weaker, in turn, causing more strain and pain. Patients became more dependent on drugs and grew more inactive and disabled.
In fact, pain relief actually can come through movement. Low-impact sports like walking and swimming are the best way to make the back feel better and stronger.
Georgia Comprehensive Spine uses written clinical protocols to improve care and reduce treatment variation ó the essence of true quality management. This enables us to make sure the right thing is done at the right time, every time. This also makes sure that every non-surgical option ó such as therapy and injections ó has been explored before spine surgery is considered.
While others talk about quality, we measure outcomes with patient severity data at intake and functional status post treatment. Lastly, we audit patient satisfaction so we can continually improve, because that's what quality is all about. All of these quality indicators are tracked and reported on a 2012 Clinical Outcome Report Card for health insurance companies and employers. Click here to view.
Our goal is to help you return to your favorite recreational activity and the work you enjoy.
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