Monday Medical: Back-to-back events for back pain

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— It can come in the form of a dull ache or a sharp pain. It may last for a few days, a few months or even a few years if left untreated. But there is one constant about back pain — it doesn’t play favorites.

Back pain may be common, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. There are surgical and nonsurgical treatments that can improve your mobility and comfort. You can learn about the options at two events Tuesday at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Cutting-edge technology

Back surgery can be a daunting decision. With so many vertebrae, discs, joints, nerves, ligaments and muscles at stake, you want to place your spine in the hands of an expert.

“We have cutting-edge technology here in Steamboat Springs,” spine surgeon Dr. Henry F. Fabian Jr. said. He is director of Spine Center of Steamboat Springs and medical director of YVMC’s New Mobility Spine Program.

Fabian has been a leader in minimally invasive surgical techniques for spine surgery since 1996. He has been involved in the design and development of surgical techniques and implants for 25 years.

He will be on hand to answer questions and show the latest implants at an open house for the New Mobility Spine Program. The program is based on a successful national model of care developed by renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Marshall Steele.

Here’s how the New Mobility Spine Program ranks against other hospitals according to national data gathered by Marshall Steele & Associates and our Avatar patient satisfaction company:

■ New Mobility has a complication rate of 1 percent; that’s more than 6 percent lower than the national average.

■ The hospital stay is half a day shorter for most procedures.

■ Patients report a satisfaction rate of more than 96 percent with their surgical outcomes and 92 percent with their hospital care.

The Zen of back pain

Spine surgery is not a cure-all for back pain.

Orthopedic research has found that a patient’s emotional health plays a huge role in recovery and that if a patient’s psychological needs aren’t treated before surgery, it may limit how they fare after the surgery.

Sometimes there is a stigma associated with emotional health challenges. Depression and anxiety are labels most people like to avoid. However, Integrated Health Manager Angela Silvernail Melzer said stress is natural for any medical procedure and should not be shameful.

“How can you have surgery on your back and not bring your mind into it? It’s really scary to have your back worked on,” Melzer said.

Steamboat Springs chiropractor and acupuncturist Russ Fasolino is well-acquainted with the mind/body connection and back pain.

“It’s a fairly common part of my practice,” Fasolino said. “Patients usually use us as a last resort, but we should be a first resort. What we do is all natural.”

Fasolino said many patients get significant relief after their first treatment, and it’s not uncommon for people who stick with the treatment long enough to find permanent pain relief.

Melissa Phillips Boldman is a communication specialist at YVMC. She can be reached at melissa.phillips@yvmc.org.

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