Chronic back pain is a burden that millions of Americans live with every day. Just ask Quad City attorney and black belt, Hector Lareau, whose job and favorite sport demands that he be on his feet hours every day in the courthouse or at the dojo — even when back pain flare-ups are debilitating.
Hector is not alone. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) estimates that 1 in 5 will experience back pain severe enough to limit the amount or type of work he or she can do, with 1 in 20 unable to work at all. One in 7 persons will spend at least 1/2 day in bed due to back pain.
For many, the pain will last only a few days or weeks. However, chronic back pain of months to years often results.
For Quad City back pain sufferers, relief is at hand. ORA Orthopedics, the area’s leading and largest orthopedic practice, has introduced a new Pain Center of Excellence to help pain sufferers get the care they need, and in many cases, avoid surgery altogether.
Recently, Hector turned to ORA’s new Pain Center after his lower back pain took a turn for the worse. He sought the opinion of ORA Spine Surgeon, Dr. Michael Berry, who discovered an early injury in Hector’s youth was causing a lower lumbar vertebra to shift almost 40%.
“Hector suffers from spondylolisthesis, caused by a stress fracture in one of his vertebrae. It’s a condition I see often.
“He most likely suffered an injury in his adolescence, and now the bone is unable to maintain its proper spinal position — his vertebra has shifted out of place. Our goal now is to reduce his pain, restore his function, and do so without surgery.”
“My first thought was definitely back surgery,” says Hector, “but Dr. Berry said with pain management and physical therapy, I had a good chance of avoiding surgery altogether.”
Dr. Berry referred Hector to ORA’s pain management specialists.
“We want to provide a continuum of care for chronic pain sufferers who may not be ready, able, or even need surgery,” explains Dr. Mohan.
“There are many effective pain relief tools, such as facet joint injections, epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, and spinal cord stimulation.”
Additionally, for those familiar with epidurals for back pain, there have been refinements in epidural technique, which better target the pain that patients experience.
Dr. Mohan is treating Hector’s low back pain with a series of epidural injections and physical therapy.
“The pain has definitely abated, and I am able to work with minimal discomfort,” he says. Hector practices martial arts for core and back strengthening, in addition to prescribed physical therapy, so as to avoid surgery altogether.
Dr. Mohan adds, “For all of our pain patients, we are most concerned with providing a place to manage their pain over the long term.
“Back pain sufferers, in particular, don’t always have one physician or practice that can manage pain consistently over time. Combining interventional procedures with physical therapy can work wonders.”
Dr. Mohan, who recently relocated to the Quad Cities, says it’s gratifying to make a difference in people’s lives.
“Oftentimes, chronic pain patients are the ones no one wants to treat. Many of these patients endure intense stress and frustration, and they feel ‘no one is listening.’ Yet they show immense resilience, and once their pain is treated, they are so much happier with life.
“It is a privilege to see the real person bloom when their pain goes away. It is an amazing experience to be part of their success!”
“After Dr. Mohan gave me the second epidural injection, I have had tremendous pain relief,” Hector says.
“I even felt good enough to work out at my daughter’s karate dojo at the University of Iowa. It feels good to be an old guy who can still kick with the kids.”
Visit ORA’s Pain Center of Excellence for more information.