Debilitating Back Pain Can Happen to Anyone


Although chronic back pain is often thought of as a condition related to older people or those who have jobs that are very physically demanding, the truth is that anyone, of any age, can be impacted by a back ailment. Even those who consider themselves to be in top physical shape can sustain an injury to a spinal disc while exercising or performing an everyday activity.

Think of the backpacks laden with heavy textbooks and laptops that elementary, high school, and college students tote around all day. Eventually, some of these students may suffer from damage caused by the weakening of vulnerable discs in their spine. One healthy young student, Mary Halabi, came to see Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, at the Spine Institute Northwest because she was experiencing severe back pain. Though she’d thought she had simply pulled a muscle at the gym, her pain was stemming from a herniated disc caused by lifting weights that were too heavy. Her pain was so unbearable that she could barely do anything but lie down all day. She was missing classes and couldn’t participate in the sports and other activities she loved to do.

Dr. Kamson was able to bring Mary back to her active lifestyle minus the pain she was experiencing in her lumbar spine. She consulted with Sol Kamson, and together they opted for Mary to undergo a minimally invasive lumbar spine surgical procedure at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, where Sol Kamson is the Director. Eight days after her surgery, Mary was back at school and able to return to her young, active lifestyle.

One of the minimally invasive techniques that Dr. Kamson uses to repair damaged lumbar discs is endoscopically assisted spinal decompression. During this procedure, your surgeon at the Spine Institute Northwest uses a needle-guided endoscope after making a small incision in the area to be treated. The endoscope is used together with Laser and Radiofrequency (RF) technology to clearly see and be able to repair the damage from inside the body. This avoids the need for invasive surgery, with a much shorter period of recovery time needed. Most patients undergoing endoscopically assisted spinal decompression are able to go home the same day as the surgery is performed.

A lumbar interbody fusion and facet fixation can help someone who has developed degenerative disc disease, spondylolysis, or repeated incidences of disc herniation, among other conditions. During this minimally invasive procedure, Dr. Kamson uses a facet screw system to help stabilize the spine. He is then able to safely remove the disc or bone material that is causing pain and fill in a spacer with bone graft to fuse the spine back into the correct alignment. This is a more involved procedure than spinal decompression, with the need for physiotherapy for 6 to 24 months afterwards. The important thing to remember is that you will be able to return to your daily living tasks once again, with significantly less pain than in the past.

Contact Dr. Kamson and his team at the Spine Institute Northwest today for a consultation to discuss your spinal pain.

What You Need To Know About Regenerative Medicine

illustration of platelet rich plasmaIf chronic back, neck, or joint pain is keeping you from leading a full, active life, a look into regenerative procedures may be the answer you’re seeking for relief. With regenerative medicine therapies you can find a decrease in pain and be more functionally active in your everyday life once again. Another upside to regenerative medicine is the speed of recovery that is involved.

Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, Director of the Spine Institute Northwest, understands and will explain to his patients that surgery may be necessary for more severe or advanced cases involving damaged joints and weakened tissues. But if surgery is not needed and regenerative therapies can be utilized to help your condition, Dr. Kamson prefers to go this less invasive route with a lowered risk of complications from anesthesia or blood loss.

Regenerative medicine is a natural treatment option that Dr. Kamson offers to patients suffering from chronic pain and injuries suffered on the job. The medicine uses natural substances, such as stem cells and platelets taken from your own body in most cases, to aid in stimulating the growth of new collagen fibers. Fresh collagen aids in increasing the strength of painful, damaged discs in the spine. The regenerative medicine is injected exactly where it is needed in the body, without the need for anesthetics or an overnight hospital stay. You may even be able to return to work when the procedure is over.

In certain cases, Dr. Sol Kamson recommends the use of regenerative therapies in many instances of degenerative disc disease, chronically damaged tendons and ligaments, spinal bulging discs, arthritis, tendinitis, and other painful joint conditions. Many of Dr. Kamson’s patients who receive regenerative therapies for their pain report significant improvements just a few days following their first injection, when they can go back to their normal activities. It may take a few weeks or even months for others to get back to their active lifestyles, especially for those who have suffered more acute or chronic issues. The severity and timespan of your particular condition will determine the number of injections needed and the recovery period. You can discuss these questions as they concern your individual condition with Sol Kamson during your initial consultation at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA.

Though regenerative therapy is minimally invasive and quite safe, there is always a certain risk of side effects associated with any type of procedure. The use of your own body’s cells in the medicine used greatly reduces the chances of infection and other side effects from occurring. The risks associated with regenerative medicine to treat disc disorders include the same risks involved with any injection procedure, such as bleeding, some pain at the site of injection, tissue injury, infection, and the possibility of the treatment not working as well as anticipated. All of these risks, however, are minimized at the Spine Institute Northwest with the use of sterile protocols and adherence to safety guidelines.

Call Dr. Solomon Kamson and his patient advocates today to schedule your consultation and find out whether regenerative medicine is right for you.

When Is Spine Surgery Considered to be Outpatient?

There are many individuals that have the misconception that having spinal surgery is a major surgery and they must stay in the hospital for an extended visit. With minimally invasive spine surgery, this is no longer the case. You will be recovering and relaxing in your own home, in your own bed.

Lumbar Miscrodiscectomy
Lumbar microdiscectomy is a non-abrasive surgery that provides excellent results to those who must undergo surgical treatment to help recover from their lumbar spinal condition. Those who suffer from foot or leg pain, certain amounts of weakness, or even numbness, may have a lumbar condition and may even need this surgery.

When Surgery is the Final Step
Those who exhibit the symptoms of a lumbar spinal condition may have one or more symptoms. There are pain management plans that Dr. Solomon Kamson will set into place in order to minimize the pain and difficulty for you. If one pain management plan does not seem to be working, then Dr. Kamson will try another method to help.

Performing Lumbar Microdiscectomy
This surgery will take approximately an hour to perform. In order to reduce the time needed for recovery, anesthesia that was designed for outpatient surgery is used. The surgeon will use x-ray technology in order to guide him without having to make a larger incision. The smaller the incision that is made, the less muscle and tissue is cut, and the less time it will take to recover from the surgery. This also makes it possible to be an outpatient surgery.

Once Surgery is Complete
Recovery time is cut in more than half compared to what the typical surgery recovery time used to be. When the surgery is done, you will return to your home. The patient is able to walk and even participate in non-strenuous activities. You will have relief from the pain that you have felt for so long. You will be free of the pain that has put difficulty in performing typically daily activities like grocery shopping and cleaning your home.

After Care
It is important to know that even though this surgery is an outpatient surgery, you will need to make preparations to your home prior to the surgical treatment. Placing daily necessities within reach is important. For example, any clothing that will be needed out of the bottom drawers of your bedroom dresser will need to be placed in a more convenient spot. If this is the case, then it is suggested to place a basket on top of the dresser and add the daily clothing to it so less bending is performed. Dr. Solomon Kamson will provide you with other instruction on how to prepare for an easy recovery time and it is highly suggested you follow the instructions and tips.

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: Does It Really Exist?

Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) may sound like something that is a figment of a patient’s imagination. However, it is actually referring to chronic back or leg pain that continues after having spine surgery. There is no guarantee that any surgery will be 100 percent effective, and spine or back surgery is no exception. Dr. Solomon Kamson is there for his patients through every step of the process and can address continued pain and come up with a solution.

Any back surgery only comes with up to a 95 percent effective rate. There are really only two issues that spine surgery can definitively correct, which are to decompress a pinched nerve root and stabilize a joint that is causing pain due to movement. The doctor can only predict what he or she thinks is causing the pain and perform the surgery on that area.

Lingering pain is often a result of the fact that the pain the patient is feeling was actually the result of another problem and not caused by the area of the spine that was operated on. The focus of the surgery is to work on a lesion or injury on the spine. It is only evident after the surgery if that part of the anatomy was truly the cause of the patient’s pain.

Other Causes
Failed back surgery syndrome can be a result of issues other than operating on the wrong spot. When a patient had a spinal fusion, there might be a failure to fuse or the implant might not work as it should. The pain may also shift to another part of the spine after a fusion. In the case of spinal stenosis, it may be a recurring problem that cannot be remedied permanently. When decompression is performed, the nerve damage might not heal or new nerve damage might occur during spine surgery. Scar tissue may form around the surgical site, which can make pain return. There is also the possibility that a patient may reinjure themselves, causing the pain to come back even worse that it was before. This often happens when patients do not stick to the rehabilitation plan laid out by the physician.

Overcoming Obstacles
Most patients need to realize that spine surgery is not a cure for back pain. It is a common misconception that it is a permanent fix and that there will be no pain after the recovery period has ended. Each patient must carefully follow the rehabilitation plan that is established. This often includes months or years of physical therapy to keep the back in the best shape. It is also important not to push physical activity before the back has had a chance to heal, or this may cause more pain or further injury. Continued visits to Dr. Kamson will allow him to monitor the patient’s progress and see if any new therapies or medications need to be added to the plan. With continued therapy and monitoring, most patients should be able to manage pain with failed back surgery syndrome.

Q&A: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery vs. Traditional Techniques

Question: Dr. Kamson, I suffer from lower back pain and have been told that minimally invasive surgery is a much better option than regular back surgery. Why is minimally invasive surgery such a better alternative and what are the benefits?

Answer: For close to 50 years traditional back surgeries have been destroying different structures in the back while trying to repair problems with the spine. In order to gain access to the spine, muscles are removed from the vertebrae, which can cause disturbances to tendons and lead to more extensive damage. Vertebrae are held together by ligaments that if they are removed can weaken the spine. These surgeries not only can cause more harm than they repair, they also usually require a lengthy recovery. There are still times when traditional surgery is required, but with the advancements in minimally invasive procedures, one day it will be a thing of the past.

A great benefit of minimally invasive spine surgery is that there is less damage to the tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones, and joints of the spine. This is all done with the use of small incisions. These are made to insert thin endoscopes that are equipped with high powered cameras, allowing the surgeon to visualize the procedure that is being performed. Additionally, some surgeons will also use data from MRI’s or CT scans to view computer-generated 3D models of the spine. The incisions that are made will generally be small, and most procedures require incisions the size of two small needles. Other procedures like a spinal fusion at one time required an incision of 4-6 inches, but as the field continues to advance, incisions from 1/2 to 1 inch can now be used in this procedure.

Once the procedure begins, instead of cutting muscle fibers like traditional surgeries, the fibers are separated so they can be put back in place. This results in very little scarring to the nerves that are exposed. If your surgery requires screws, clamps, or rods to be implanted to stabilize the spine, they can be inserted through these same small incisions. Procedures that require damaged discs to be removed can also be done through the incisions, as well as inserting artificial discs.

There are many great benefits that come with minimally invasive procedures. Shortened recovery time is perhaps the biggest benefit with this surgery. With traditional back surgery, patients are generally stuck in a hospital for 4-5 days before being released. At the Spine Institute Northwest, after most procedures patients are able to leave within an hour. The amount of blood loss is significantly reduced, and so is the risk of an infection. By using small incisions there is also much less scarring. With minimal damage being done to the tissues, there is a much quicker recovery time at home, and the potential of other injuries to the nerves is greatly reduced. A last great benefit is that many of those who were considered to be poor candidates for traditional back surgeries are able to be treated with minimally invasive procedures.

Want to learn more about Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD and the Spine Institute Northwest? Visit Dr. Kamson online at

Q&A: Herniated Disc Treatment Options

Question: I’ve been in constant pain from a herniated disc and my doctor says it will require major surgery to correct. Is there anything else that can be done to relieve the pain?”

Answer: So many patients have been told the same thing, or that the only other alternative is medication, which only masks the pain. With the minimally invasive Endoscopically Assisted Spinal Decompression procedure, you can quickly get the relief you need and get back your pain-free life.

The vertebrae in the spine are cushioned by small discs that act as shock absorbers in the spine. This is also what helps keep the spine flexible. When a disc becomes damaged it can break open or bulge. This is also referred to as a ruptured or slipped disc. Most herniated discs are in the lower back, and can sometimes occur in the neck. In more rare cases the upper back can be affected as well.

There are several different causes of a herniated disc that come with age or injuries to the spine. As you get older the discs can experience wear and tear that causes the discs to dry out, making them not as flexible. Injuries to the spine can cause small tears or cracks to the outer hardened layer. If this occurs, the gel inside the vertebrae is able to be forced out. This is what causes the disc to break open, bulge, or even break into pieces. The pain you experience is caused by the herniated disc pressing on the nerve roots. It may also cause a weakness or numbness in the body where the nerve is positioned. If you experience a herniated disc in the lower back, you will usually feel numbness and pain that can be felt in the buttocks, as well as down the leg.

If you’ve had an MRI or CT scan to diagnose your pain, you are able to submit it to the Spine Institute Northwest to have a specialist review and discuss the different options that are available. The benefit of an endoscopic decompression procedure is that it uses a small incision so the muscles and tissues in the area not damaged. This results in a much quicker and less painful recovery with very little soreness.

With the use of lasers, coblation, ultrasound, or radio frequency, the inner or outer areas of the disc that are causing the pain is removed. This will reduce the amount of compression on the spinal cord and nerves. This is a fairly quick procedure that usually takes around 90 minutes for each level. After about an hour in the recovery room you are released from the facilities, but need to follow up with the surgeon in 2 weeks to have the suture removed and the area inspected. If you don’t live in the area, you may visit your primary care provider for removal and inspection of the area.

The pain can quickly or immediately disappear, but it will take several months for everything to fully heal. It’s important not to rush back into work or strenuous activities so the back has time to properly heal. Don’t worry, it won’t be long until you are back to yourself and enjoying your life.