Washington University physiatrists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, including Berdale S. Colorado, MD, are using non-surgical treatment options for treating low back pain.
There are a lot of different causes for low back pain, and there are different therapy treatments for different types of low back pain. What we try to do as physiatrists is try to be as detailed as possible in terms of the diagnosis and what’s contributing to each patient’s low back pain so that the physical therapist can tailor the program, the physical therapy and home exercise program for that patient.
I’m board certified in physical medicine, rehabilitation, sports medicine and electrodiagnostic medicine. My specialty is often referred to as physiatry. As a physiatrist I specialize in non-operative treatment of various injuries of the bone, muscle, tendons and nerves.
The vast majority of injuries don’t require surgery. After a detailed history and physical exam, testing, imaging, things like that, there’s a lot of non-surgical treatment options available for patients such as physical therapy, such as bracing or orthotics, medication, sometimes injections. Other treatment options that we sometimes use include acupuncture, include aquatic therapy, myofascial therapy. We have a, we have a lot of different tools in our toolbox to treat injuries or pain non-surgically.
I have a background in public health and patient education is very important to me. I believe that a patient who understands and is educated about his or her injury or pain is much more invested in their treatment. The patient who is actively involved in their plan of care is, is much more motivated, they’re much more empowered, they adhere to their treatment, they’re much more satisfied with their care. And ultimately I believe they’ll have better outcomes. And so the education piece to me is something that we try to incorporate in every patient visit.
One of the exciting areas in our field is really the use of ultrasound. We have an ultrasound machine in our clinics and we will use it to diagnose pinched nerves or rotator cuff tears. The advantage of having that available at the time of the initial visit is really for accurate diagnosis at the time of visit and really to be efficient with our treatment. And so we have very accurate diagnosis and then we can move forward with a very tailored treatment plan based on that.
One of the other exciting areas in our field is our regenerative medicine treatment options. One of those is PRP, or platelet-rich plasma. We often use those types of injections to help stimulate healing in tendons or early arthritis.
We will use the patient’s blood and concentrate the healing and the growth factors and we’ll use that to inject it into various tendons or joints to stimulate healing. And I think that’s a very exciting area of medicine that has a lot of promise.
We have a very collegial atmosphere here at Washington University. Being in an academic medical center and being involved in the teaching of medical students and residents and fellows really requires you to stay on top of your game and stay up to date on a lot of the research and the evidence behind a lot of the treatment options that we provide.