With a catchy title like that, most people would read this article with great anticipation. People with back and neck pain are often desperate to find relief and search high and low for minimally invasive treatments to assist them in regaining their pain-free level of function. It is precisely because of the vulnerability of back pain patients that centers who aggressively advertise the newest "LASER" or "MINIMALLY INVASIVE" treatments are so troubling. Most of the centers that spend considerable money advertising, highlighting testimonials and reporting miracle cures with Band-Aid type of surgery are considered by true spine care physicians as being shameful and predatory on the desperate patient population searching for help.
What are patients to do? How can they know what treatment interventions are helpful, and which are designed only to take their money without regard to their clinical treatment outcome? There are easily recognized signs that a spine care provider/spine center/new treatment are suspect. Here are a few:
- Aggressive advertising strategy (Reputable spine centers do not advertise miracle cures to find patients.)
- Cash only (Treatments that require cash-only payments are this way because insurance companies would likely deny their treatment as ineffective and wouldn't cover their treatment.)
- Sign a contract for length of treatment (Treatment should always be left to the patient's discretion to start and stop as they see fit. Your health care should not be viewed as a spa membership or a cell phone contract.)
- Testimonials (Real care for back and neck problems is based on scientific studies and doesn't require emotional testimonials by individuals to sell it.)
- No research supporting the treatment (New treatments should always be backed by valid research in a peer-reviewed journal or be part of a research project before such a treatment would be offered to patients.)
- Providers who are not a member of North American Spine Society, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Scoliosis Research Society, American Academy of Neurological Surgeons or other peer-regulated nationally recognized physician group. (If someone cares enough about spine issues to become an expert at it, they will be members of one or more of these societies. If they are not, there is a reason.)
- Fellowship training (The highest expertise in the field exists in physicians who have, in addition to medical school and residency training, undergone fellowship training in spine care.)
In short, beware of salesmanship, testimonials, unscientific techniques that are ignored by mainstream care providers, and the "crazy Eddie gotta sell those stereos" approach.
For patients who have back and neck pain, all is not lost. There are centers of excellence that are dedicated as a part of their mission to diagnose and treat simple and complex spinal disorders, regardless of the cause. We demonstrate that every day.
We are actively engaged in research and track all of our outcomes from the procedures we perform. We present the results of our research at national and international meetings of our peers several times a year. As leaders in the regional and national spine care community, we are concerned about the disservice of less reputable spine centers touting unscientific approaches for cash-only and the predatory effect this has on patients in need. We invite anyone with serious back or neck disorders to schedule an appointment with us to sit down and discuss the real issues, real treatment options, conservative, non-surgical, minimally invasive, and otherwise with us and begin the journey toward feeling better. Scientifically proven techniques and standards of care are the benchmark at Sonoran Spine Center and should be the only consideration for patients who are well informed.