Neck Pain

90% of Back Problems Can Be Resolved Without Surgery

The thought of having to have spine surgery is terrifying to most people. The good news is that only about 10% of patients who have back or neck problems are candidates for surgery. At Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine, we have non operative as well as operative physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of acute back and neck pain injuries. The non-operative physicians, physiatrists, only recommend surgery in the cases where it is absolutely necessary. There are many non-surgical spine treatment options that may fix back problems before opting for surgery. These non-surgical back treatments include anti –inflammatory medication, ice, heat, gentle massage, physical therapy, orthotics, and injections.

Patients should only consider surgery if all of the conservative treatment options have been exhausted. In this short video below, Emory’s non-operative sports medicine and spine physician, Dr. Oluseun A. Olufade describes Emory’s approach to caring for active individuals with back or neck pain. It is important to note that if your physician immediately suggests you have back surgery before giving you other options for your care, it may be a good idea to get a second opinion.

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About Dr. Olufade
Oluseun Olufade, M.D.Dr. Olufade is board certified in Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team. Dr Olufade is also the team physician for Emory University and Blessed Trinity High School.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports medicine injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in treatment of sports related concussions, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration. Dr. Olufade sees patients at our clinic at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

Dr Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

About Emory Ortho, Sports and Spine in Johns Creek and Duluth
Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has recently opened two new clinics, one in Johns Creek and one in Duluth. Emory physicians, Kyle Hammond, MD, and Oluseun A. Olufade, MD see patients in Johns Creek. Mathew Pombo, MD and T. Scott Maughon, MD see patients in Duluth. Our new clinic locations care for a full range of orthopedic conditions including: sports medicine, hand/wrist/elbow, foot/ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee/hip, concussions, and spine. To schedule an appointment call 404-778-3350.

What is the Sciatic Nerve? What is Sciatica?

Back PainOver 65 million Americans suffer from back pain. In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, back pain is a leading cause of missed work and the most common cause of job – related disability in the United States. Many times, pain in the lower back could be caused by a condition called sciatica. Sciatica is a condition often caused by a ruptured or herniated disk that irritates the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is formed from the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord into the lower back. When the nerve is irritated it can cause debilitating pain, numbness or a tingling sensation down the leg and occasionally all the way to the foot. At times, the pain is so severe that the pain sufferer may lose control over the leg.

Causes of sciatica

Treatments for sciatica

Depending on the cause of the sciatica, it can take weeks to years to relieve the pain from the condition. Research has not shown that low activity versus high activity and physical therapy will help the symptoms. Although medications do not always relieve the pain in the sciatic nerve, medications are typically the first line treatment option. If medications don’t work, the physician will work with the patient to determine the next steps which could include surgery, epidural injection or alternative medicines.

When should you see a physician regarding sciatica and what type of physician should you see?

Patients with sciatica or similar conditions are typically seen by Orthopaedists or Neurosurgeons. At Emory Orthopaedics & Spine we like to see patients when pain failed to be relieved with activity modifications and OTC medication or if it is associated with sensory or motor deficits, such as numbness or weakness

Dr. Di CuiAbout Dr. Cui
Dr. Cui is a physiatrist at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center who specializes in non-surgical management of back, spinal and neck pain. Dr. Cui completed his medical school and residency at the Emory University School of Medicine. He has a special interest in oxidative stress and nutrition, and how they are related to aging.

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Is an Epidural Right for my Back or Neck Pain?

More than 90% of people with back or neck pain find relief through non-operative treatment. Some patients will benefit from physical therapy or treatment at a pain management center while others may need an injection or series of injections to help decrease their pain.

How do I know if a spinal injection is right for me?

Epidural Steroid Injection Back Pain

This is a difficult question to answer because not all patients are candidates for spinal injections. Some conditions are better treated with surgery while other conditions are more appropriately treated with conservative treatment including spinal injections.

Depending on the type and severity of your back or neck pain, your physician may recommend a spinal injection. The type of injection you receive is based on your specific symptoms and the physical exam performed by your physician.

What is an epidural steroid injection & how can it help my back pain?

A common injection that we perform is the epidural steroid injection. This type of injection is used to relieve radiating pain down the arm or leg. The medicine used in the injection is a mixture of long-acting anti-inflammatory steroid and numbing medication. During the injection, the physician will position you on the table and then perform the injection with the help of x-ray guidance to ensure the injection is given in the correct place.

Most patients will notice a decrease in pain within 2-3 days, but some may take 1-2 weeks to notice the benefit of the injection. Depending on your spine condition, your physician may recommend a series of epidural steroid injections. Your physician will discuss the treatment plan with you.

Epidural steroid injections are commonly administered without problems, but there is always a slight risk whenever you have an invasive treatment.

Recently, a serious concern has been raised in the national medical community regarding the use of contaminated steroids causing an infection of the spine called spinal meningitis. Fortunately, at Emory Spine Center we have always carefully selected the pharmacies we use to supply all of our medications, including the steroids used for injections. Only those suppliers with best quality control have been chosen. Clearly, the end result has been beneficial as none of our patients received contaminated steroids.

It is important to remember that serious complications like the one discussed above are extremely rare. Please visit our website to learn about the other spinal injections we perform.

About Dr. Jose Garcia-Corrada

Dr. Jose Garcia-Corrada

Dr. Garcia-Corrada is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Orthopaedics and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Emory University School of Medicine. He specializes in non-operative spine care and focuses on helping patients achieve their best functional level. Dr. Garcia started practicing at Emory in 2001.

 

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Understanding the Potential Benefits of Physical Therapy

National Physical Therapy MonthThe American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)’s National Physical Therapy Month (NPTM) is celebrated each October as a way to bring awareness around the potential health benefits to be sustained via physical therapy. Over 90% of back and neck problems, for example, will resolve themselves without surgery, and for some patients, there are unique benefits achieved from treatment by a physical therapist.

Physical therapy is a form of treatment—practiced by a licensed physical therapist under the referral of a physician. The purpose of physical therapy is to improve and/or restore mobility in patients for whom it is limited due to a medical condition, surgical procedure, accident or fall, neurological disease or other medical condition that has limited a patient’s functional mobility.  Often the injury limits the performance of everyday tasks.

Physical therapy programs at Emory Healthcare are available to support every type of mobility and functionality issue patients may experience. Whether a patient’s functional mobility issues relate to a neurological occurrence like a stroke, or an athletic injury like a torn ACL, our physical therapists available on both an inpatient and outpatient basis are here to help.

For more information on our physical therapy programs, including information on our department of Rehabilitation Medicine, please visit the links below.

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Act Now to Prevent Joint Pain Later

Prevent Joint PainAnyone putting their little toe in the waters of middle age has a glimmer of what joint pain feels like. It’s no fun. But there are things you can do to ease joint pain now and prevent future joint pain. Here are some joint-smart steps you can put into action:

Maintain a health weight. Carrying extra weight can cause significant joint pain over time, particularly in weight-bearing areas like the hips, knees, and ankles. Prevent problems now and down the line by maintaining a healthy weight. Talk with your doctor if you need help starting a weight-loss program.

Get regular exercise. Low-impact activities such as walking or hiking, swimming, and stationary cycling are great options for building bone-supporting muscles, keeping weight down, and improving joint mobility. Just 30 minutes a day can have a real impact on your long-term health and comfort. Exercise has been proved to ease arthritis pain, as well.

Keep your skeletal system strong. Help prevent osteoporosis (more common in women) by getting plenty of calcium, which you’ll find in dairy products and leafy green vegetables or in supplement form. Calcium builds bone density and makes bones less susceptible to arthritis. Consider reducing or eliminating caffeine, as it can weaken your bone structure.

Eat more fish. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce joint pain and stiffness in people suffering from arthritis. If you don’t love fish, take fish oil supplements instead.

Get plenty of vitamin C. Vitamin C may help speed the recovery of damaged muscles by repairing tissues, easing joint pain. These 10 fruits and veggies are rich in vitamin C: oranges, guava, red bell peppers, kiwi, grapefruit, vegetable juice cocktail, oranges, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

Wear sensible shoes. OK. We know that one’s no fun. But joint pain is a high price to pay for fashion. Eschew the high heels and look instead for flexible shoes that provide support. You want the shoe to bend with your foot as you walk. These days, there are plenty of good-looking shoes out there that will be kind to your feet and joints.

Already experiencing joint pain? If you put our suggestions to the test and still feel the pain, make an appointment to see us at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center.

Do you suffer from joint pain? If so, what treatments have worked best for you? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Is Your Desk Job Hurting You?

Neck Back Pain Desk Job PostureThese days, more and more jobs are desk jobs, meaning many people spend a minimum of eight hours a day behind their desks and at their computers. I frequently see patients with neck and back pain with no specific injury, but who spend many hours behind a computer. This type of work can have a number of health implications, including muscle and joint pain.

If you’re a desk jockey, one of the easiest things you can do to prevent pain from a poor workstation set-up is to have an ergonomic setup designed just for you. You want your chair and work station to fit you properly. Here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Be sure your body is properly aligned with your desk and your computer. You should be able to sit straight in front of your computer and not have to turn from side to side to access it.
  • Keep your head, neck, and torso in line, and keep your arms and elbows close to your body but within reaching distance of your keyboard. You shouldn’t have to reach forward to use your keyboard.
  • While typing, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle from your body, and your wrists and hands should be in a straight line, with your wrists in a neutral position, not arched or bent.
  • To prevent back pain, be sure your chair has good back support.
  • When you’re sitting, your thighs should be parallel to the ground or a little higher than your knees, and your feet should touch the ground. You don’t want the end of chair hitting the back of your knees—you want a little gap there.

Neck pain is a common complaint of people who spend a lot of time on the phone. If you find yourself cradling your phone between your shoulder and chin so you can type and talk at the same time, switch to a headset or use a speaker phone.

Don’t forget to get up and move around regularly throughout the day. If you feel pain during your work day, stretching and moving around can help ease that pain, as can a heating pad or ice pack. You may even find some relief by treating yourself to a massage at one of the many Atlanta spas. I always tell each patient to listen to your body. If you are having pain, your body is trying to send you a message. If you are having neck or back pain that isn’t improving after trying the tips above, make an appointment with an Emory Spine physiatrist for further evaluation and treatment.

Do you spend a lot of time behind a desk? What do you do to get moving and ease pain? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

About Diana Sodiq, DO:

Diana Sodiq, DO, is an Assistant Professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Medicine. She is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Physiatry). As an osteopathic physician, Dr. Sodiq is trained in both traditional medicine as well as osteopathic manipulative treatments (OMT). She started practicing at Emory in 2010.