Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Back Pain Treatment Options to Get You Back to Normal


Submitted by Mississippi Valley Surgery CenterWhether it’s a sudden sharp pain or a constant dull ache, lower back discomfort is one of the most common ailments in the United States. Roughly eight out of 10 Americans experience some form of back pain during their lifetime.

While back pain — especially in the lower back — is very common, the causes of the pain and the resulting treatment options are not always straightforward. That’s because lower back pain is different for everyone. For example, one individual can have a herniated disc and experience very little pain, but another person can have a simple muscle strain that limits their ability to walk or even stand.

While many lower back issues can be addressed through exercise, diet, and epidural steroid injections, some patients need to turn to surgery for relief.

Thankfully, the Quad Cities is home to Dr. Michael Dolphin, a fellowship-trained spine surgeon at Orthopaedic Specialists (OS) in Davenport.

Dr. Dolphin uses innovative, minimally invasive procedures to help patients tackle their back pain. He performs many of these procedures on an outpatient basis at the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center in Davenport. The team at the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center specializes in outpatient surgeries and procedures — making them experts in the latest, proven techniques that lead to better outcomes and faster recoveries. From registration through discharge, the Mississippi Valley Surgery Centers focuses on offering individualized patient care and a relaxing, comfortable environment.

Dr. Dolphin was the first Quad-City surgeon to preform back procedures on an outpatient basis.
“Advanced, minimally invasive back surgery gets people back to the life they love quicker,” says Dr. Dolphin. “They often experience better results with outpatient surgery.”

What causes lower back pain?
Lower back pain is most commonly a result of inactivity and an imbalance between physical demand on the lower back and the muscles being able to protect the spine from the rigors of everyday activities. Other common causes of lower back pain include obesity and smoking. Complicating the matter is the fact that many times the origins of lower back pain overlap — meaning that many factors play a role. This can make it difficult to pinpoint a specific, singular cause.

As a result of the varying and often multiple causes of lower back pain, proper diagnosis is the first step to recovery. That’s why Dr. Dolphin always starts with a thorough exam and patient history.

“Interviewing the patient regarding their concerns gives me clues as to where to direct my physical examination,” he said. “During the physical examination, we are checking to see if there are any restrictions to motion involving the lower back. We are also evaluating the patient for any signs of weakness, numbness, tingling, or if there are any maneuvers that cause nerve pain.”

The final part of the diagnostic process often involves imaging studies. These can include simple x-rays or something as complex as an MRI. This helps Dr. Dolphin determine if there is a more significant structural reason for the patient’s concerns.

Consider minimally invasive surgery
According to Dr. Dolphin, most occurrences of lower back pain can be managed with non-surgical options, including proper rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, and chiropractic care. Exercise is also very important. Other approaches to alleviating lower back pain include weight loss, acupuncture, smoking cessation, anti-inflammatories, and careful use of epidural steroid injections.
However, in some cases surgery is necessary.

When surgery is the best option, Dr. Dolphin focuses on minimally invasive procedures that shorten recovery time and diminish post-operative pain. In the last decade alone, he has helped perform more than 1,000 outpatient spinal surgeries at the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center.

“Because this is a minimally invasive spine surgery, most people are home resting within 23 hours or less after surgery,” said Dr. Dolphin. “In fact, many of the procedures I perform can even be done in an outpatient surgery center.”

One such outpatient surgery is Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion. Careful surgical technique allows for removal of bone spurs, relieving the nerve/spinal cord compression. Then stabilization of the disc space is performed in the form of a fusion.

Another outpatient spinal procedure he performs is a Microdiscectomy, which is designed to relieve pain from a disc bulge/herniation. The minimally invasive procedure removes the herniated part of the disc material that is pressing on the nerve or the spinal cord, retaining the unaffected disc for continued function. Dr. Dolphin performs these procedures with a small incision, allowing for quicker recovery.

Seek out a specialist
Whether you suffer from chronic back pain, or have recently sustained a back injury, it’s important to realize that you have the power to choose how you are treated and where the procedures are performed.

To learn more about the procedures that Dr. Dolphin performs at the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center or to schedule an appointment, call 563-344-9292 or visit OSQuadCities.com.

To learn more about the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center and the multitude of outpatient procedures they offer, visit