Dr. Solomon Kamson Teaches at Boston BioLife Workshop

 teaching at Boston BioLife

Doctor Solomon Kamson of Spine Institute Northwest of Washington was recently in San Diego, California for the Boston BioLife Hands-On Sessions which are workshops for practitioners and researchers interested in new regenerative medicine techniques.

Dr. Kamson teamed up with Michael Meng, DC,  a musculoskeletal ultrasonographer to demonstrate live patient ultrasound joint imaging and fluoroscopy on a cadaveric workstation.

hands-on training for physiciansDr. Kamson, who specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques to address chronic pain and issues involving cervical and thoracic spine problems, is an interventional pain specialist, anesthesiologist, and educator who advocates the advantages of non-surgical and minimally invasive surgery for back pain.

Boston BioLife is a Massachusetts-based training company that brings together practicing physicians and researchers to further knowledge in Life Sciences and to foster the exchange of ideas among colleagues through hands-on training. The company emphasizes the need to focus on stem cell therapies and regenerative medicine.

For more information on the event and for inquiries about future hands-on workshops, visits Boston BioLife’s page here.


Reasons For and Types of Cervical Spine Surgery

The neck is a complicated part of the body. It includes bones, muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. The neck is the section of the spine that is referred to as the cervical section. This section is extremely delicate and can cause conditions that are crippling. Dr. Solomon Kamson of Spine Institute Northwest will be able to perform testing to diagnose the issue before it affects every aspect of your life.

Before Cervical Spine Surgery
Although there are non-surgical treatments available, at times the non-surgical treatments are ineffective to those who have had a long-lasting neck condition. Typically, pain management programs are set into place for those who need help with debilitating pain.

Once the pain management has been considered unsuccessful, the next option is normally cervical spine surgery. The normal time span for the surgery to be considered is approximately six months. In some cases, if the patient requests a longer period to recover instead, then Dr. Solomon Kamson will help the patient with other options available.

Reasons for Cervical Spine Surgery
There are different situations in which cervical spine surgery may be recommended to the patient by Dr. Kamson. One of the main reasons is a nerve root being pinched due to a bone spur or a herniated disc. This condition is also known as cervical radiculopathy. Nine out of ten patients who have endured this condition have been forced by the pain to undergo cervical surgery.

Another reason for this type of surgery is pressure being placed on the spinal cord by bone spurs; this is called spinal stenosis. This is a more complex surgery process. The success rate for this type of surgery is between 50% and 90%. It will depend on the specific details of the individual’s situation.

Those patients who have vertebrae that grind together due to degenerative disc disease will end up undergoing this type of surgery. Degenerative disc disease will cause pinched nerves and excruciating pain that will lead to repercussions in other aspects of the individual’s life.

Types of Cervical Spine Surgery
Anterior cervical discectomy is one of the more commonly performed surgeries for this section of the spine. The surgeon will expose the spine using an incision, which is made on the front side of the neck next to the windpipe. Once the incision is made, the herniated disc or bone spur will be removed. Laminectomy is performed to relieve addition pressure that has been placed on nerve roots and the spinal cord. Laminae are plates of bone on the vertebrae.

Laminoplasty is performed to relieve suffering for those who have to endure spinal stenosis. This is performed to create more room for the spinal cord. After the spine is exposed using an incision on the back of the neck, the vertebral laminae are reconstructed to enlarge sections of the spinal canal.

In order to come to the proper diagnosis, Dr. Kamson will perform tests and ask questions about family history dealing with health conditions. It is important to be as accurate as possible. He will then offer pain management procedures and speak with you about the next step in your individual situation.

2016 Testimonials for Doctor Kamson, Part 2

Here is part 2 of Dr. Solomon Kamson’s patient testimonials for his patients who underwent minimally invasive procedures at Spine Institute Northwest in the past year. Click here for part 1.

Jeremiah Dawson – Cervical Fusion for 10-year Chronic Back and Neck Problem

Field training officer Jeremiah Dawson had been living with his chronic pain since 2006. Working around the pain for more than a decade, Jeremiah finally realized the severity of his problem during training with younger police officers. Jeremiah felt sharp pains in his leg as he was going through a routine running exercise.

Recognizing that the pain was becoming a hindrance to his job and to his life at home, Jeremiah sought out treatment from Doctor Kamson at Spine Institute Northwest (SINW).

After Jeremiah ‘s successful operation (a cervical fusion), he says, “Doctor Kamson has a way of putting you at ease, you are able to talk to him and he gives you the answers you need.” “I haven’t regretted one moment,” he explains, thankful that he is finally living his life as he wants to again.

Cameron Reyes – Lumbar Decompression for Back Pain

Cameron, a self-described ‘300 pound meat and potatoes guy’ who was struggling with long term chronic back pain had this to say about his experience at Spine Institute Northwest after undergoing lumbar decompression:

“When Doctor Kamson told me that he could make me better, I wept like a kid”, Cameron says. “I got a fresh start. It’s the closing of a horrible, horrible long chapter in my life,” says Cameron after finally being free of his chronic back pain.”

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2016 Patient Testimonials, First Part

Here is part 1 of Spine Institute Northwest patient testimonials for 2016. All these patients underwent minimally invasive treatments from Dr. Kamson

Margo Witters: “Everybody here is so friendly”

Margo knew immediately that she was in the right place when she decided to get treated for back pain at Spine Institute Northwest (SINW). The Spokane, WA resident came in for lumbar fusion to address her bad back. Of Doctor Kamson, Margo says, “He was right on top of my treatment.” She remembers the atmosphere at Spine Institute as “giving her a sense of peace” and the general feeling of “the (staff) just wanting to help you.

Before her procedure at SINW, her back was so bad that she was nearly immobile and had to resort to using a walker, or worse – confined to a wheelchair. Today, more than a year after her surgery, Margo is back to her old self before all her back pain began.

Watch Margo’s story in her own words below:

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Back Pain: Don’t Let History Repeat Itself!

History doesn’t have to repeat itself, right? If you are suffering from back pain, find out if other family members are suffering from back pain, too. Surprisingly, back pain issues can run in the family – especially a herniated disc. Research shows that those who suffer from a herniated disc are four times more likely to face a similar problem if another family has suffered a pain-related issue, too.

Do you know your family’s health history?

It’s always good to know your family’s health history when it comes to significant medical issues. You should at least be aware of health problems in your immediate family: Parents and siblings. The further out on the family tree you can get, however, the more forewarned you’ll be — grandparents, your parents’ siblings, and your cousins can also provide telling info. It’s not important to track every cough and cold; you just want to know about major illnesses and chronic conditions.

What are your choices?

What disease or health problem are you tracking? Is it back pain or something similar? Find out what’s available to you. If you know, for example, that you have a parent and a grandparent who suffer from chronic back pain, it’s important to rule out non-genetic elements that could be the root of the problem. For example, working at a physically demanding job isn’t something that’s hereditary (well, maybe unless you inherit the family farm). Other health issues that can contribute to back pain, like obesity, can be addressed with preventative measures. Learning about health problems that “run in the family” can help you determine whether there are other factors you have that may increase your chances of developing one of these problems.

Again, let’s not allow history to repeat itself. When you consult with Dr. Solomon Kamson, talk to him about your family tree when it comes to illness and chronic pain. Osteoporosis, arthritis, or even a bum knee is important to bring up as well. Knowing what health issues you may be more likely to face — even if they aren’t causing you trouble now — can help to determine a course of action that will better help you to find relief from pain.

What is Spinal Decompression?

Spinal decompression is a non-surgical procedure that is used in certain cases when a patient is experiencing pain, stiffness, or numbness that can be connected to a specific origin in the neck or back. Dr. Solomon Kamson MD, PhD notes that with any back problem, it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis in order to understand your treatment options. If you are curious about spinal decompression, here’s an overview of some of the basics.

What Can Spinal Decompression Treat?
Spinal decompression can be used to treat many sources of back pain, but it is not suitable for all problems. Generally, more conservative treatments are used before performing even a completely nonsurgical spinal decompression. Back pain that stems from a tumor, fracture, or osteoporosis, is not treatable with spinal decompression. It is important that your physician knows about your medical history and any medication you may be on, as some conditions may mean that you are not a good candidate for spinal decompression.

What Happens in a Spinal Decompression Procedure?
For the actual decompression procedure itself, the patient is strapped into a harness while lying on a bed. The harness, which is attached to the lower part of the table, can move about, allowing the doctor to perform stretches and rotations in order to decompress the spine. The procedure takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, and is performed entirely by the doctor through a computer that allows him or her to maneuver the lower end of the table. If compression is being caused by damaged tissue or bone growths (osteophytes), these may need to be surgically removed in order to relieve the pressure on the spine.

In some cases, additional therapeutic treatments are used before or after the procedure. These might include heat and cold therapy, ultrasound therapy, or electrical stimulation. The determination for whether or not you will need one of these other therapies depends on the degree to which your physician thinks that the spinal decompression procedure will provide you with pain relief.

Decompression is also used in some cases as a complement to other kinds of minimally invasive spine surgery. The results that can be obtained from spinal decompression are unique to each patient, so it’s important to work with a physician whom you trust when it comes to treating your back pain.

Sweating the Small Stuff to Ease Back Pain

If you experience regular back pain, you are probably already doing as many things as you can to keep the pain under control. But management of back pain can be extremely frustrating, and you may feel like no matter what you do you just can’t find relief. Even if you exercise regularly, a job that forces you to be sedentary could be the culprit behind your persistent pain. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest causes of health problems in the United States, even for people who are otherwise active.

You can’t leave your job, so what are you supposed to do? Dr. Sol Kamson, a specialist in managing and treating spinal pain, suggests that patients do everything they can to make sure that they are addressing all of the little aggravations that the average office space can cause for the spine. Here are some of the issues that an office job can cause for your back, and ways that sweating this “small stuff” can help make a difference to your pain:

  • Make sure your feet can touch the ground. If your seat can’t be adjusted low enough for your feet to reach the floor, get something that you can use as a footrest like a stool, box, or stack of books. Just make sure you don’t use something that someone else in the office might need! If there’s not a good solution, it may be time to upgrade to a new chair.
  • Alternatively, if you think you might be sitting too low, adjust your chair upwards so that your knees are at an approximately ninety-degree angle. If your seat that can’t be elevated to accommodate this position, again, it may be worth it to ask your office manager for a new chair.
  • Raise or lower your desk as appropriate to the level of your chair. You shouldn’t feel like you are reaching for your keyboard or crouching over your screen. You should be able to sit comfortably, with your feet flat on the floor and your screen at eye level, for proper ergonomics.
  • Adjust your armrests. Even if you don’t use the armrests regularly, you may be positioning your body in an awkward way in order to accommodate them. Raise or lower them so that your elbows rest on the armrests. If you don’t use the armrests, remove them if possible, so you don’t end up leaning or contorting to avoid them.
  • A modern option that can help is a desk that converts between a sitting and a standing desk. This allows you to stand up and continue working if you don’t have time to take a short walk or stretch. If you can’t get a standing desk, there are other options. It may be possible to elevate your computer as you feel the urge to stand up.

Dr. Kamson recommends that patients take steps like these in order to make their daily life at the office more comfortable. Regular, daily pain that results from a sedentary lifestyle impacts not only your comfort at work, but also your quality of life more broadly. If you’re experiencing chronic back pain, preventative measures like these can help to alleviate the problem before it grows bigger.

Why Does Everyone Keep Telling You to Try Yoga?

Yoga is one of those trendy sports that it seems like everyone is trying and, of course, recommending to you. But if you’re the type to avoid trends or at least to approach them with a cautious skepticism, you may have ignored these recommendations or felt unsure about how true their claims were.

If you’ve been experiencing minor levels of back pain, Dr. Sol Kamson, a doctor of spinal health, says that you may have good reason to listen to your friends who recommend yoga. While yoga is not a good substitute for cardiovascular exercise or weight training, it can be highly therapeutic for people who have specifically been dealing with pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. What are the specific benefits of yoga for people with back pain? And what can you do to take the best advantage of these benefits?

The Benefits of Yoga for Back Pain
When you learn to practice yoga, you are really learning how to stretch your muscles. If you are able to get to a more complicated level of yoga, you will also be able to work on some muscle strengthening. For most people, it’s beneficial to do actual weight training in addition to yoga rather than to count on yoga for strength.

Stretching is a great way to relieve pain in the back. When you feel pain in your muscles, it is likely either from overworking them or from underworking them. Both can cause the accumulation of stress in the muscles. When you stretch those muscles out, you help to relieve some of that stress. After an extended period of learning and practicing yoga, you can start to maintain a consistent level of flexibility in your muscles, which will decrease your likelihood of future pain.

How to Take Advantage of the Benefits
In order to take advantage of the potential benefits of yoga, you need to make sure you are practicing it in a way that specifically targets the muscle groups that are causing you trouble. Dr. Kamson reminds patients that they should be sure to visit a doctor before trying out yoga to make sure that they are healthy enough for exercise and to make sure that there is not an underlying condition behind your back pain that could be worsened by exercise (as in the case of certain types of injuries). It’s important to find a yoga teacher who has experience working with people suffering from back pain and who understands your physical limitations.

To really get the full benefit of yoga, you will want to make sure that you don’t limit yourself to only working on those muscle groups that are directly causing you pain. Sometimes it can be difficult to target the specific location of a pain, which may mean you will need to exercise multiple muscle groups to actually get at the source. It’s also important not to push yourself too far, too fast. Gentle yoga is often best for people who are suffering from chronic pain.

Why Do Your Neck and Back Crack?

When a joint is hurting, you might be inclined to frequent joint cracking. When the back, neck, or other jointed areas are causing for pain, and the experience of cracking these joints can provide a feeling of relief, even if it is only temporary. Many people worry about the safety of cracking their joints. The short answer is, no, don’t risk it. The long answer is, yes, within reasonable limits it’s okay to crack your joints.

lower back painFirst, some basic points. What is actually happening when you crack your neck or back? When you manipulate your spine by rolling your head around, twisting or arching your back, or having it manually manipulated by another person, the relief you are experiencing comes from stretching out the muscles that support your spine. The cracking noise you hear, while related to the manipulation, is not responsible for the pain relief. It is simply the sound of the fluids or gases between your spinal joints being put under pressure. While stretching can be beneficial for people experiencing back pain, it’s not necessarily true that actually cracking your back can relieve pain.

Why do some people believe that it can be harmful to crack your spine? There are two major reasons behind this concern. The first is that there is a rare but very real risk of causing damage, because your spine is a central connector for a vast network of muscles, veins, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. These are all interconnected, and any damage to one part that you accidentally cause through spinal manipulation can have serious consequences.

The other concern is that you can ultimately put a lot of strain on your muscles and bones through frequent manipulation. While this is a lesser risk for younger people with stronger bones and muscles, for older people, it’s much easier to accidentally cause a serious injury. This can be brought on by some action that may feel relatively minor at the time, especially if it is a sudden and jerking motion. Even for younger people, frequent manipulation can lead to long-term wear on the muscles, ultimately decreasing flexibility and elasticity.

What does this mean for you if you have gotten accustomed to finding some pain relief through cracking your neck or back? The main thing to takeaway from this is that there is no actual connection between cracking your joints and feeling pain relief. The pain relief is actually coming from the experience of stretching the muscles. Many doctors who caution against cracking one’s own back note that you can get the same type and degree of pain relief from regular exercise and flexibility training (for example, gentle yoga).

Dr. Kamson would also like to remind patients who are experiencing back pain that it isn’t a good idea to try to take your pain management into your own hands, especially if you aren’t sure about the source of the pain or the potential complications of the methods you are using to try to fix the pain. It’s important to make sure you aren’t causing more damage than good, and that you aren’t ignoring a treatable underlying issue.

Texting Neck: A Modern Medical Malady

Smart phones have become a staple of modern life. Also on the rise? Complaints of medical problems linked to habitual cell phone use, according to an article in Mother Nature Network. While some people may deal with problems including vision impairment and accidents caused by distraction, the most common medical complaints doctors are likely to see are pain issues resulting from unnatural positions and postures. Constantly bending your neck or tucking your chin to look down at your phone, it seems, can produce back and neck pain that can be become chronic.
While it may be difficult for patients to isolate the behaviors that are contributing to their pain issues, once you’ve talked to a doctor about your behaviors, it can become easier to figure out the connecting pieces. That said, patients who are using mobile devices on a regular basis are often reluctant to change their habits, even when they discover that poor posture and repeated stress are contributing to their pain. If you are experiencing pains in your back, neck, fingers, or elbows, keep track of how much time you spend with a smartphone or tablet—you might be surprised. Though you’re unlikely to ditch that iPhone, there are ways you can alter your behaviors to decrease your pain.

• If you are experiencing pain or tenseness in your neck (either in the spine or the muscles surrounding the spine) pay attention to how many times you catch yourself looking down at a screen. If you realize that you are looking down at screens very often or that you are craning your neck in awkward positions, make a regular habit of changing your posture as soon as you notice and take regular breaks from your devices. If you are looking down at a computer screen for long hours at work, adjust your screen so that you are able to spend more of your time looking straight ahead instead of down. Actually using a smartphone as a phone? Use a headset, and avoid looking down at your phone while you talk. Take regular breaks throughout your day to gently stretch your neck. Lift and lower your shoulders, and rotate your neck in gentle circles, to help elongate the muscles that are tense and sore.

• If you are experiencing back problems, pay attention to see if you are regularly slouching while using handheld devices or sitting at a computer. Make a practice of sitting up straight while using your devices. One solution: Sit at a table, so you can keep your device propped up instead of hunching over to reach it. Take regular breaks to stretch out your back and move around.

• If you are experiencing foggy vision after looking at screens all day, it’s very important that you take more breaks from your devices. Find out if you are wearing the right prescription glasses or contact lenses to avoid further strain. You should also experiment with your monitor’s display settings to see if there are options that are easier on your eyes.

• If you are experiencing pain in your elbows or wrists, you may be spending too many hours holding your phone up to your ear or with your wrists bent at your keyboard. Consider using alternative solutions like a headset when talking on the phone, and an angled keyboard with a wrist support when typing.

Though it’s unlikely that just one of these issues—or any one technology—is entirely to blame for chronic neck or back pain, it is possible that this kind of behavioral issue can contribute to the problem. If you are experiencing chronic back or neck pain, contact Solomon Kamson at the Spine Institute Northwest to set up a consultation.