Swami Kavyo, 63, has had back pain for most of his life. More than 40 years ago, he sprained his back at work while trying to lift a pallet jack. That injury never completely healed and led to near-constant pain in his lower spine due to bulging discs.
Kavyo, of Denver, tried everything he thought would help—medications, chiropractic treatment, activity changes and physical therapy—with no more than temporary benefit. He ended up undergoing multiple spine surgeries, including a procedure that permanently fused two of his lower back vertebrae, and later surgical placement of a stimulator over the nerves in his spine to block the pain.
While these procedures resulted in some improvement, he continued to have chronic pain and significant restrictions that severely impacted his quality of life.
In 2003, he began seeing Byron Jones, MD, a board certified physiatrist (rehabilitation medicine specialist), who helped him manage his pain with a combination of medications, physical therapy and exercise. While he was improved, he continued to have pain and physical limitations.
In 2013, Dr. Jones joined the newly created Lutheran Medical Center Spine Center at Denver West as its medical director. Kavyo was believed to be an excellent candidate for the types of programs offered through the center and accepted an invitation to continue treatment there.
A Team Approach
The multidisciplinary team at the Spine Center includes physiatrists, physical therapists, exercise specialists and psychologists, all of whom are specialists in spine rehabilitation. Patients receive a thorough evaluation, including assessment of their goals and lifestyle. Once the evaluation is completed, the team designs a comprehensive, personalized program for each patient.
The goal is to enable patients to reach their highest level of function with as little pain as possible. This approach has been used successfully in the majority of the patients who participate in the program.
New Therapy Brings Relief
In December 2014, Dr. Jones suggested that Kavyo try some physical therapy sessions, including new MedX spine rehabilitation equipment that is specially designed to strengthen muscles supporting the spine, thereby reducing chronic back pain and improving physical function.
“As soon as I started working on these machines, I realized that they were unique,” Kavyo says. “I felt them isolating and strengthening muscles that I hadn’t reached before. After the first session, I noticed improvements in my back function, and over the next few weeks, my pain level subsided from a 5 to a 2 [on a scale of 1 to 10].”
Even more impressive were the improvements in flexibility and strength. These improvements enabled Kavyo to complete more exercises at home, which further reduced his pain and allowed him to do things he had not been able to do in years.
“Today, I take less medication, and I’m able to do daily activities much more easily,” he says. “It’s amazing how the effects of the MedX therapy have stayed with me.”
The goal at the Spine Center is to treat patients with minimal to no invasive procedures. However, there are cases where surgery may be the most appropriate course of care. If patients are believed to require surgery, the Spine Center team carefully coordinates plans with the neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons at Lutheran to obtain an optimal outcome.
When surgery is required, it may involve several types of procedures. Two procedures are commonly performed in treating low back pain:
- Decompression procedures involve removal of bone fragments and/or portions of the disc that cause painful pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
- Fusion procedures help stabilize the spine and prevent abnormal movement by replacing the cushioning disc between two vertebrae with a bone graft. Eventually, the new bone and the spine will fuse into a solid unit.
The surgical team includes B. Andrew Castro, MD, a board certified orthopedic surgeon; Roderick Lamond, MD, a board certified neurosurgeon, and Itay Melamed, MD, a board certified neurosurgeon. Additionally, in August, Lutheran welcomed Richard Kim, MD, a board certified neurosurgeon.
“We’re able to do many of these procedures through tiny incisions, which enables many patients to go home the day of surgery,” Dr. Castro notes. He emphasizes that although surgery can provide substantial relief, the outcomes are best when combined with physical therapy, both before the procedure to strengthen the surrounding muscles and afterward to help speed healing.
The experts at the Spine Center take great pride in providing individualized, state-of-the-art care for all types of spinal disorders. In patients with new-onset pain, they strive to be sure the condition is treated right the first time, preventing reinjury and the need for repeated courses of care down the line. However, even in patients who have recurrent injuries and who have had extensive care in the past, such as Kavyo, there are newer techniques in treatment that may provide significant lasting improvements in quality of life.
GET ON THE ROAD TO BACK PAIN RELIEF MedX spine rehabilitation equipment is used at Lutheran’s Spine Center at Denver West.
We work with you to develop a personalized back-up plan that addresses your spine-related back pain. Our goal is to get you back to your life as quickly and efficiently as possible.
For more information, call 303-403-6688 or request an appointment online.