The Latest Procedure Options Available at Spine Institute Northwest (SINW)

pain treatmentDr. Sol Kamson and the surgical team at Spine Institute Northwest place their primary focus on minimally invasive endoscopy guided procedures. Some patients, however, may not qualify for these traditionally non-invasive techniques, leading the SINW to expand their expertise in the field of spine surgery.

If you or a loved one requires pain relief from vertebrae-related conditions, but you’ve been told that traditional minimally invasive endoscopy guided procedures are not recommended in this particular case, it’s good to know that the Spine Institute Northwest literally has your back. We now offer alternative surgeries to treat pain, symptoms of weakness, and other issues affiliated with spinal disease.

One of the latest options to treat pain caused by bulging or ruptured discs in the cervical spine is called Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF). In this instance, Dr. Kamson makes a small incision at the front of the neck. He is then able to remove the damaged disc to decompress the spinal cord and nerve root. A spinal fusion is then performed in order to make the surrounding vertebrae more stable. Next, Dr. Sol Kamson inserts an implant to replace the degenerated or ruptured disc, stabilizing it with a tiny titanium plate, after which regenerative therapy is applied. Regenerative treatment is done during the surgery, using stem cell autografts and allografts to increase healing time and improve fusion rates.

Sometimes a patient will suffer a vertebral compression fracture, often caused by osteoporosis or an acute injury, such as a fall. A minimally invasive procedure, percutaneous vertebroplasty, can be used to stabilize and strengthen the collapsed vertebra. In this case, a small portion of medical-grade acrylic cement is injected into the vertebra using a flexible needle. Sol Kamson can gain access to the entire vertebra with just a tiny incision to deliver the cement directly to the fracture.

An even more recent development in vertebroplasty is now offered at the Spine Institute Northwest to treat deformities of the spine due to vertebrae fracture. VBA, or percutaneous vertebral body augmentation, also called kyphoplasty, uses a balloon type of device to make space in the vertebrae. This space is then filled with a medical grade cement to relieve pain and stabilize the spine. Regional anesthesia coupled with intravenous sedation can be used during this procedure.

These exciting options for minimally invasive treatments to relieve chronic pain brings hope for a new lease on life for those who thought they could not find relief without having to endure open back surgery. Discover if one of these procedures can be helpful to you by calling the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA today.

Why Should You Choose the Spine Institute Northwest?

Living with chronic back pain can have a huge negative impact on your quality of life. It’s difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to enjoy daily life when pain is intruding on your ability to work and take part in activities you enjoy.

Turn to spine surgeon, Solomon Kamson at Spine Institute Northwest, who will help you sort out the best options in minimally invasive spine surgery to help you take back your life.

About Solomon Kamson, MD

Dr. Kamson is a highly experienced physician specializing in interventional pain management and minimally invasive surgical techniques. His areas of expertise include the diagnosis and treatment of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine conditions.

He completed his Surgical/Medical Internship at Mercy Hospital, through the University of Michigan. He finished an Anesthesiology Residency in 1985 at the University of Washington and has received many awards and scholarships related to his clinical research, teachings, and scholarly publications. Sol Kamson is certified to treat Interventional Pain by the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians, and he is a Fellow at both the American Academy of Minimally Invasive Spine Medicine & Surgery and at the Interventional Pain Practice, World Institute of Pain. Clearly, Solomon Kamson is an excellent choice when you are seeking a physician to treat your spine issues in a minimally invasive way, without resorting to open-back surgical procedures.

About the Spine Institute Northwest

Dr. Sol Kamson has helped hundreds of patients find relief from persistent back pain. He utilizes the latest technological advances at the Institute using the least invasive methods.

The friendly staff working with Dr. Kamson at Spine Institute Northwest makes your visit here as stress-free and comfortable as possible. Being greeted with a smile and prompt service can make big difference in your first impressions upon entering our offices. You will find that the team at the Spine Institute Northwest will continue to impress you with their ability to make you feel right at home with each and every visit you make. The office staff, nurses, and clinical assistants all work to ensure patient comfort and confidence that you’ve come to the right medical practice for your needs.

Every staff member is prepared to answer your every question and address your concerns, from medical queries to billing or insurance issues. If an answer is not within that person’s sphere of knowledge, rest assured your concerns will be directed to the correct person, including Dr. Kamson, if you need answers that relate directly to his expertise.

Customized Treatment Plans

There exist a variety of treatment options for back pain. Rest assured that Dr. Sol Kamson works with you to find the treatment plan that is ideal for your specific issues. Each individual patient is offered a number of different treatment plans. Discuss the options available to you that may include laser spine surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery, radio frequency treatment, and many other choices. Contact Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA,  today to discover how you can regain your life and relieve back pain.

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.

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.
woman-phone-texting
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.

Warning Signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis

With approximately 8 out of 10 people complaining of back pain at some point in their lives, it can be difficult to determine whether your problem is just a sore back, or the result of an underlying condition. One underlying condition that may begin as simple back tenderness and stiffness is ankylosing spondylitis. However, there are several key warning signs that you can look for to determine whether you just have a sore back, or need a visit to a back specialist such as Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest.

Ankylosing spondylitis is one that gets progressively worse with time. While you may find that pain medications and exercise temporarily relieve some of the pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis, the condition will get worse over the course of time. In most cases, the pain begins in the lower back and works its way up the spine. This can cause fusing of the vertebrae, forward curvature of the spine, and, eventually kyphosis (“humpbacking” of the spine).

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Pain that Does Not Improve with Rest
If your sore back is really just a sore back, it is likely that it will improve with a bit of rest. This is especially true for younger individuals that experience back pain or stiffness. In addition to having pain that does not improve with rest, a patient experiencing symptoms as a result of ankylosing spondylitis will notice that their pain does improve with exercise. This is the opposite of what would be expected of lower back soreness, as soreness would get worse with exercise, not better.

It’s in Your Family History
Patients with a history of ankylosing spondylitis in the family are more likely to develop the disease than those without. The reason for this is that most individuals (not all) who develop the disease have a genetic marker that makes them more susceptible. Family history is not only limited to relatives with ankylosing spondylitis. A family history of inflammatory bowel disease-related arthritis and psoriatic arthritis also can be indicative of genes that leave you susceptible to the development of ankylosing spondylitis.

Unexplainable Pain in Areas Other than the Spine
Some of the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include pain and stiffness in the heel of the foot, the joints of the wrists, the joints of the ankles, and other various joints in the body. Even your rib bones may be affected, causing tightness in the chest and difficult breathing. These are warning signs that can be indicative of ankylosing spondylitis. Some additional symptoms to watch out for include physical deformity, unexplainable fatigue, inflamed tendons, sleep disturbances, redness or inflammation of the eye, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision.

NSAIDS Relieve Symptoms
Those suffering from ankylosing spondylitis may turn to anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxyn. While these drugs may temporarily relieve your pain, they will not reverse the condition. Once you have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, however, your doctor will likely prescribe advanced medications that target the cytokines in the body. Cytokines are key components of inflammation in the body. Often, these medications will target either tumor necrosis factor alpha or interleukin 10, which will slow the progression of the disease.

Image: Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Daily Steps to Relieve Back Pain

Chronic back pain can really complicate your life. From limiting the amount of work you can do to cutting into your favorite activities, living with chronic pain is hard. While it may seem that you already have a lot on your plate, there are small steps that you can take to improve back pain in your daily life.

Support Your Spine While You Sit
Many jobs require a lot of sitting, especially if you work in an office setting. Regardless of the reason you spend most of your day sitting, your position and amount of support can make back pain better or worse. The key to alleviating back pain while sitting is proper posture and good support. Make sure that your chair is at the right height for your knees to bend at a 90-degree angle as you sit. Keep your buttocks and spine against the back of the chair.

If your seat does not support the curvature of your lower back, place a pillow or blanket between your lower spine and the chair. You can also place a pillow beneath your feet, because sitting with your knees slightly above your hips will alleviate pressure on the back. Be sure to avoid sitting on your phone or wallet, which can misalign the spine. Finally, keep your chin back as you sit, to avoid a slouching position.

office-work

Drive Comfortably
Individuals with a lot of back pain should try to avoid driving as much as possible. Try carpooling to work, walking (if it is a reasonable distance and your doctor says it’s okay), or taking public transportation.

If you must drive, consider placing a pillow behind your lower back to support the natural curvature of the spine. If you are driving long distances, take periodic breaks to get out of the car and stretch the spine. You can do this by walking around a little bit, or even completing a few stretching exercises. For stretching exercises that can benefit the lower back, consult with a back specialist such as Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest.

Move Around
Even if your back is healthy, sitting or standing in the same position for a long period of time can become uncomfortable. This is true even for individuals with the best posture. To promote a healthy back, moving around throughout the day is important. It’s easy to sneak in movement throughout your day.

If you are talking on the phone, try standing with one foot slightly elevated. Be sure that you do not lock your knees. You should also try to regularly get up and stretch, or walk around if you are sitting in one position for a long time. Additionally, you should frequently switch positions while you are sitting. Another thing you can do is complete hamstring stretches twice daily. Hamstring stretches will make the hamstring more flexible. This allows them to absorb more of the impact as you go throughout your day and relieve some of the stress that is placed on the lower back.

Neck Pain Causes and Treatment

Neck pain is extremely common because it has so many different causes. Dr. Solomon Kamson will work to help you once he is able to diagnose your symptoms and perform testing.

Pain that Goes Down Through the Arm
Neck pain that seems to radiate down the arm is very typical for most people. At times, that pain can run through the arm and down into the hands and even the fingers. The typical cause for this is foraminal stenosis or cervical herniated disc, which is a pinched nerve located in the neck. In some cases or at certain times, the pain may also be accompanied with numbness or a tingling sensation in your arms and your hands through to the fingers.

Treatments will be dependent on specifics of the condition, including how long the pain has been present, the intensity of the pain, or the degree to which the nerve is affected. Some treatments may include physical therapy, manipulations, or medication. If the pain seems to remain present from 6-12 weeks of the pain management plan that you discuss with Dr. Kamson, then surgery may be an option to reduce pain.

Pain from Specific Activities or Positions
At times, neck pain can be caused by specific daily activities or certain positions that you stand or sit in during the day. Normally, patients who experience neck pain associated with these causes have had a condition developing over a period of years and have not been able to be diagnosed properly or to obtain needed assistance to correct the problem. In these cases, the medical cause is called cervical foraminal stenosis. This is when a nerve root on one side of the spine is the cause of the symptoms that the patient suffers.

This medical spinal condition is caused by the aging process. The wear and tear of the joints located in the neck, also known as facet joints, causes much pain for the sufferer. It is diagnosed through certain tests like MRIs or CT scans. Just as with a herniated disc, the treatment for this type of stenosis can include medicines, physical therapy, specific exercises, and injections. After a certain amount of time, if the pain does not seem to lessen, then surgery may also be an option.

Lack of Coordination and Pain in the Arm
If the sufferer experiences pain that goes down through the arm accompanied by a lack of coordination in the arms and legs, the medical cause can be cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy. It affects the motor skills and, in some cases, will send shooting pains through the limbs.

Dr. Kamson and the team at the Spine Institute Northwest will work to properly diagnose and help you reduce the pain from this condition. It can be brought on by a herniated disc or degenerative joints that cause pressure on the spinal cord. This condition is also treated with the previously mentioned methods. Just as with other conditions, if the pain does not lessen, surgery may also be an option.