Proof That Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Is Safer for You

surgeryA lumbar discectomy is an invasive surgical procedure performed in a hospital to remove herniated spinal disc material that is pressing on a nerve root. A study published in the medical journal Spine reported that people undergoing procedures as in-patients were experiencing an 85% increase in complications, such as infection from wounds, than those who opted for outpatient surgeries.

Using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database, University of Iowa’s Andrew J. Pugely, MD, led this research study that included a review of the records of over 4,000 lumbar discectomy patients. An analysis of the data showed that in-hospital surgery patients were more apt to acquire infections or to need additional surgery afterward the initial procedure than outpatient patients.

The minimally invasive procedures performed on an outpatient basis, such as those performed at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, are safer for patients. Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, notes that these less invasive types of surgery result in far fewer complications for patients. Dr. Kamson relates the following information on this groundbreaking research study for patients and for potential surgical candidates to learn more about its in-patient lumbar discectomy findings.

About the NSQIP: This quality assurance program was developed in 2005 by the American College of Surgeons to study and improve surgical outcomes. Close to 500 hospitals in the US take part in the NSQIP database.

Number of cases reviewed in the study: The cases studied of patients who went through a lumbar discectomy procedure between the years 2005 and 2019 numbered 4,310.

What the study examined: The research team looked at the number of short-term complications and the risk factors for complications in a 30-day period following a single-level lumbar discectomy. Risk factors such as age, diabetes, past wound infections, blood transfusions, length of operating time, and other components were taken into consideration.

The study’s findings: Of the 4,310 lumbar discectomy cases studied, 2,658 (or 2/3 of them) were performed on an inpatient basis. These patients experienced a 6.5% complication rate. Those who had outpatient discectomies (1,652 of them) had just a 3.5% complication rate. Dr. Kamson notes this lowered risk of complication when the discectomy is performed in an outpatient setting.

Conclusions: The study’s conclusions state that having outpatient lumbar discectomy results in a lowered rate of possible overall complications than for those who are treated in a hospital setting. For appropriate candidates, outpatient lumbar discectomy surgery should be considered.

Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, agrees wholeheartedly with the philosophy of the Spine Institute Northwest: less is better. Dr. Kamson is committed to utilizing the least invasive techniques and treatments to better help patients ease their pain and recover more fully and rapidly. Call the Spine Institute Northwest offices today at (208) 496-0630 to learn more about lumbar discectomy and how Dr. Sol Kamson can assist you. Our patient advocates will be happy to schedule an appointment for you.

Massage and Chronic Back Pain

back massage in chairEighty percent of adults in America will complain of at least one episode of back pain during their lives. Nearly a third of the population, however, suffers from chronic back pain, placing close to 100 million people in pain for long periods of time. Sometimes, the source of this back pain can be difficult to trace, often leaving people in pain with little to no hope for long-term relief.

Major muscle groups and nerves that connect to various parts of your body are located in your spinal area. Stress, strain, and overuse of these other body parts that are connected to the spine can be felt as back pain.

The Promising Treatment of Massage

If you’re seeking a conservative treatment to relieve your back pain, massage is an excellent therapy to try. Scientific studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the International Journal of Neuroscience have shown that massage therapy can give patients lasting relief from their spinal pain. In 2011 the Annals of Internal Medicine reported a study involving 400 patients who were suffering from moderate to severe pain in the lower lumbar region of the back. Three groups of patients were assigned to receive either a weekly full-body massage, a weekly massage targeting specific muscle issues, or no massage at all, with instructions to simply continuing their present pain-management techniques. The results, after ten weeks, showed significant improvements in pain relief for those receiving massage therapy. In fact, a third of the patients in each massage group reported either a complete absence of pain or close to feeling pain-free.

Why Massage Can Help With Back Pain

One of the key benefits of massage therapy is that it increases blood flow and circulation. If your pain is stemming from a strained muscle, for instance, better blood circulation can lessen soreness and help heal soft tissue injuries. Living with chronic back pain can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression that may intensify your pain. Massage therapy relieves muscle tension, and your psychological mood improves, too, through the release of endorphins, chemicals in your brain that lift your spirit.

Some causes of back pain are greatly helped with regular massage treatments, though not all pain can be successfully treated in this way. If you are suffering from pain that is caused by spinal stenosis or sciatica, massage may not be the answer to your pain relief. If your main complaint stems from muscle strain, particularly of the lower back, massage treatments are a good conservative treatment. Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, at the Spine Institute Northwest, acknowledges the benefits of massage therapy for those who have spinal osteoarthritis, though Dr. Kamson recommends using a massage therapist with special training in this area.

If you are suffering from chronic back pain, find out if you can achieve relief through non-invasive massage therapy. Dr. Kamson will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend the appropriate treatment. He will help you determine whether massage is worth a try or whether it may worsen your pain. Contact the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, today at (208) 496-0630 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Sol Kamson.

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.

Eating to Support Back Health

You’ve probably heard it every time you make a new commitment to get healthier: You can’t do it with exercise alone! You need to change your diet! In truth, when it comes to just about any health concern, diet can play an extremely important role in your long-term prognosis. According to Dr. Solomon Kamson, maintaining a lifelong pattern of good nutrition can put you in a better position to defend against lots of medical problems. Of course, if you are eating well you won’t be as likely to deal with health complications stemming from obesity, but even beyond that, by maintaining a good nutritive balance in your diet, you are promoting optimal bone and organ health, which will improve your normal body function and help you recover from injury more easily. In addition, many common foods contain natural properties that can help you deal with the symptoms of many medical problems.

Eating Right for Back Health
The first step towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to choose foods that promote bone and organ health. When specifically eating for back health, consider the benefits of the following:
• Vitamin A: Promotes the formation of healthy tissue in the back and can help speed up recovery times following any back injuries.
• Vitamin B12: Promotes healthy bone marrow.
• Vitamin C: Promotes healthy collagen, which is necessary for healing injuries in disks and elsewhere.
• Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K: The favorite nutritive element of the dairy industry, calcium promotes bone growth and on-going bone health. It’s especially necessary that people dealing with osteoporosis and other bone health problems be sure to get plenty of calcium in their diets. Meanwhile, Vitamin D and Vitamin K are important for aiding in the absorption of calcium.
• Iron: Supports the healthy functionality of cells in your entire body.
• Magnesium: Promotes muscle heath and bone density.

Avoid Eating Too Much of Anything
Not only should you avoid eating too much of unhealthy foods like saturated fats and sugars, you should also be sure to avoid overloading on any of these vitamins and minerals. Despite all of the good benefits each can have on your spine health, they can also have deleterious effects when consumed to excess. For example, too much Vitamin A can actually contribute to brittle bones, while too much calcium can cause heart and artery problems.

Back Health Super Foods
When you are eating for back health, there are a few “super foods” that nutritionists recommend to help with back problems and their symptoms:
• Pineapple and dark berries: These fruits contain anti-inflammatory enzymes that can help ease pain that results from swelling and inflammation in the back and neck. But be sure to buy fresh, as you may not get the same positive effects from canned fruit.
• Salmon, herring, or sardines: These oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote blood flow. This can be especially beneficial in the transport of oxygen through the disks of the spine, which can help ease pain symptoms.
• Beef: Though it should be consumed in moderation to prevent eating too much fat, beef is a great source of iron and Vitamin B12, both of which are very important for healthy bones in the spine.

5 Myths About Back Pain (and the Truths Behind Them!)

When pursuing treatment for a long-term back problem, it’s important to be able to distinguish helpful truths from plain old myths. Following myths can exacerbate problems and cause people to forego important treatments. Here are some regular myths that Dr. Solomon Kamson encounters in discussing treatment options with individuals.

Myth: Untreated back pain will cause long-term problems
Truth: Back pain is a symptom, not a cause, of a back issue. When you visit the Spine Institute Northwest, Dr. Kamson will be looking for the cause of your back pain before he recommends ways to alleviate it. Treating only the back pain does not prevent the underlying issue from developing. If you are experiencing mysterious back pain, it’s important to get it checked out so that underlying problems can be evaluated and treated if necessary.

Myth: Most back problems require surgery
Truth: Doctors prefer not to have to perform surgeries when they are unnecessary. Unless your symptoms point to a serious underlying problem, you will most likely have conservative treatment options. If however you have already exhausted these options, or if your problem is the result of an acute injury rather than wear-and-tear, surgery may be your best option. Minimally invasive spine surgeries offer smaller incisions and shorter recovery times than traditional back procedures.

Myth: Stretching and exercise always reduce back pain
Truth: Stretching and exercise are a great way to prevent back pain, but in situations where back pain is resulting from an underlying medical issue, you can exacerbate the problem if you try to treat it entirely with stretches and exercise. Before you try to treat your back pain entirely with stretching or exercise, be sure to consult with a doctor to determine if that is the appropriate course of action. A qualified physical therapist can also help ensure that you are doing the proper movements with the correct form.

Myth: Massages, heat application, and NSAIDs are always a good idea
Truth: You need to exercise caution even while using these conservative therapies. Heat can actually increase inflammation if the pain is the result of injury. In the case of injury, go with icing. In the case of chronic pain, go with heat. Massages are a great short-term cure for muscle pain but don’t address underlying issues. Finally, NSAIDs can be useful in certain circumstances but in cases of certain injuries, they can actually slow down healing.

Myth: Bed rest is the best thing for back pain
Truth: In many cases people who have experienced back injuries or back pain as a result of other issues will over-protect their back. Restricting your back movements or abstaining to too great a degree from physical activity can cause your back to become weaker and/or to heal in an incorrect position or with improper weight distribution. You can also put too much strain on other parts of your body when you are trying to self-correct too much for back pain, which can make other body parts more susceptible to strain or injury. For most issues, limiting rest to no more than 2 consecutive days is best. Moving around and keeping your core muscles strong, so they can support your back, is more helpful than rest.

Instead of listening to old wives’ tales, make an appointment with Dr. Kamson if you have any questions about separating fact from fiction. It can be difficult to get a full understanding of how these myths and facts apply to your situation without consultation from a professional, so make sure you are treating your medical problems based on science, not science fiction.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Support Your Back Health

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — especially if preventative steps don’t cost you a thing. Maintaining the health of the back and spine is something that most people don’t think to do until it’s too late, and anyone with chronic back pain can tell you that it is absolutely miserable. Those who have intense pain or numbness that won’t go away should consult a back specialist such as Spine Institute Northwest founder Dr. Solomon Kamson. If your back is healthy — at least for now — here are some easy ways to maintain it:

Try out some yoga that focuses specifically on stretching and lengthening your back. You don’t have to be a master yogi to do these — in fact, many poses are simple enough that you can do them anywhere. Here’s a sequence that helps elongate the spine and gives your shoulders a terrific stretch: Stand up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your eyes fixed on something on the opposite wall so that your neck and head stay straight. Extend your arms directly out in front of you, then lift them straight up above your head, and lower them in a slow fanning motion, bring them down to your sides. Next, lift your right arm and bend it behind your head so that you are touching the top of your back. Bend your left arm behind your back and try to get your fingertips to meet on your back. Reverse arm positions and repeat.

Get some cardio into your regular routine. Even just going for a twenty-minute walk at the end of the day can make a huge difference in your overall wellness. Other options: Take the stairs, park far away from your destination, and incorporate squats and lunges into your everyday chores like loading the dishwasher or folding laundry. It’s amazing the number of spots where you can squeeze in some exercise — and once you’ve improved your overall cardiovascular health with these little bits of exercise, you’re more likely to be willing to hit the gym.

If you experience temporary back pain, you can apply heat or cold, pop an over-the-counter pain reliever, or rest a little (no more than two days, absolute maximum). Back pain that does not resolve within days and/or respond to these modest treatments needs to be checked out and diagnosed. Accurately identifying the source of your pain — whether it’s an acute injury or the build-up of a long-term condition — and finding its source are vital to getting back your health. If you or someone you know is having this kind of issue, call the Spine Institute Northwest to learn more about the solutions that are available from Dr. Kamson and his colleagues.

How Pregnancy Can Affect the Vertebral Column

An astonishing 80% of women report back pain during pregnancy. Medical professionals believe there are two key reasons that women experience back pain during pregnancy, a shifted center of gravity and excess weight around the abdomen. Each of these reasons is related to the vertebral column of the back, and the way that it must compensate to support the body during pregnancy.

Shifted Center of Gravity
One reason that you may experience lower back pain during pregnancy is because your center of gravity shifts. As the baby grows, the abdomen protrudes over the hips. As this happens, the body’s center of gravity shifts from directly over the hips to the front of the body. Naturally, to compensate for this shift, the spine may begin to bend forward. The constant bending of the spine and vertebral column can cause lower back pain.
Excess Weight Gain
Excess weight gain is a second reason that women may experience back pain during pregnancy. The vertebral column is accustomed to carrying around the normal weight of your body. However, when you become pregnant, the amount that your spinal column must support is greater than it is used to. To compensate for this extra weight, the spinal column may bend, again resulting in lower back pain. The extra weight that is gained during pregnancy also contributes to the shift in your center of gravity.

What You Can Do To Help
One of the biggest mistakes that women make during their pregnancy is refraining from regular physical activity. While you should avoid movements that can strain the abdomen, such as those involved in heavy lifting and some twisting movements, for most women it is healthy to remain active during your pregnancy. The reason you should remain active is because there are several benefits that exercise can offer during pregnancy, including strengthening of the vertebral column, maintaining your range of motion, easier labor, and more.

Exercises that strengthen the vertebral column are especially important for women who experience back pain during pregnancy. These types of exercises strengthen the muscles around the spine. As the muscles increase in strength, they will be better able to support the spine. The extra support allows the spine to better compensate for the shift in gravity and the excess weight.

Exercises that Strengthen the Spinal Column
There are several safe exercises that can be done during pregnancy to strengthen the spinal column. Spinal specialists such as Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest may recommend several types of exercise for your vertebral column, including waist and hip rotation exercises, side-to-side stretches, forward and back stretches, pelvic rocks, and more. Each of these exercises targets the muscles of the vertebral column.

Remember that it is important to speak to a physician before beginning any exercise regimen while pregnant. They will be able to guide you in choosing the safest, most beneficial exercise routine during your pregnancy. Additionally, if you feel any discomfort, discontinue the activity immediately. If the discomfort persists, contact your primary care physician immediately.

Protecting Your Back While Shoveling Snow

In many areas — and yikes, especially this year — the winter season is filled with the dreaded task of shoveling snow. It can be tedious, exhausting, and even painful. Luckily, you can avoid the pain of shoveling snow by preparing properly, using the right positioning and movement, and choosing the proper equipment to use. By following these simple tips, you can protect your spine as you take on the tedious task of shoveling your sidewalk or driveway.

shoveling snow safely

The Basics
You would prepare for snow shoveling just as you would for a day at the gym. Snow shoveling is a task that requires strength and endurance. Therefore, be sure you are properly hydrated before shoveling snow. You should also warm up using stretches to ensure you are limber enough for the bending that will be required. Finally, don’t shovel on a full stomach and be sure to take frequent breaks.

Body Positioning
The key movement required to properly shovel snow is the squat. As you squat, you must use only your hips and knees to avoid pressure on the lumbar spine. Position yourself with your feet a little more than shoulder width apart, your shoulders pointed outward, and your lower back straight. Avoid bending at the back. Instead, use your hips and knees to squat down and lift snow. Proper squatting avoids loading the weight of the snow onto your lower spine.

Proper Movement
In addition to being properly positioned to squat and shovel snow, you must practice the right movement. To avoid lower back strain, be sure to brace your abdominal muscles when you lift anything. This braces the abs and the lower back muscles, which prepares your spine for the lift. As you lift the snow, keep your elbows close to the body as you turn your head, leg, and foot in the same direction that you are throwing the snow. This prevents twisting of the spine.

Proper movement works most effectively to protect the back if you are using appropriate equipment. To protect your back, you should shovel snow using a shovel with a bent handle, rather than a straight handle. Using a bent-handle shovel does two things. First, it reduces the load on your lower back by putting the weight of the snow closer to your body. Second, it allows you to more easily push the snow. To properly push the snow, keep the handle against your belly and brace your abs as you breathe.

What to Do If You Are Injured
If you bend or twist and experience sharp pain in your lower back, stop shoveling immediately. Continuing to put pressure on the back after an injury can increase the amount of pain and the extent of the injury. Once inside, rest the injury. You can alternate applying heat and ice to the area. You can also take Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium, or another pain reliever. Avoid heavy lifting and unnecessary bending or twisting until your back is healed.

If pain persists for more than 5 days, speak to your primary care provider. If there is an underlying problem outside of the injury, your physician may make a referral to a spinal specialist such as Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest for further diagnosis or treatment of the spinal problem.

The History and Philosophy of Osteopathy

The practice of osteopathy has been around since the late 1800s, and was developed by a doctor named Andrew Taylor Still. He was a pioneer of his time, and focused on how understanding good health could help doctors learn more disease and illness, rather just focusing on the effects of bad health.

The Origin of Osteopathy
Though Dr. Still was an extremely experienced physician, his ideas were not greeted with acceptance in the medical community. For this reason, he established a new philosophy of medicine in 1874, which he named Osteopathy. The first school for osteopathic medicine was opened in 1892 in Kirksville, Missouri. It was known as the American School of Osteopathy. By 1897, various students from the school formed the organization now known as the American Osteopathic Association. In the year 1898, the association known as the Associated Colleagues of Osteopathy was established to set standards for curriculum and length of study.

The Philosophy of Osteopathy
The philosophy of Dr. Still centered on treatment of the body using its natural functions, rather than using medication. There are three concepts to this method of treatment.

First is the idea that the parts of the body are unified as a whole. When a patient has a disease, it is not uncommon for the symptoms to be felt throughout the body. This supports the idea that the entire body can be used when fighting illness. Dr. Still argued hen doctors focus on specific symptoms, they are ignoring the interconnectedness of the body.

Second, Dr. Still contended that the body can naturally self-regulate and heal itself. Medication and other interventions aren’t always necessary; sometimes the body itself can promote functions that battle disease and repair injury. This idea is also the basis of basic preventative medicine, such as good nutrition and fitness. When the body is under the right conditions, it will be stimulated to repair and heal.

Last, there is the idea that the musculoskeletal system is a key element of good health. The musculoskeletal system includes bones, muscles, and cartilage, which combined make up two-thirds of the entire body’s mass. Its presence in the body reflects the condition of other systems in the body, such as the circulatory and nervous systems.

osteopathy adjustment

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment
Perhaps one of the most important elements of the philosophy behind osteopathic medicine is osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Doctors skilled in OMT often use their hands to diagnose problems, restore range of motion, relieve pain, and balance tissues. All of the processes of OMT promote the body’s natural, healthy state.

Today, osteopathy is widely used, especially for the treatment of back pain. While doctors will still perform surgery, it is not uncommon for spinal specialists such as Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest to use some form of osteopathy.