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About Kenai Spine

A regional spine center of excellence for Alaska

Kenai Spine is a multidisciplinary center of excellence for the treatment of back and neck problems. Kenai Spine believes the best quality healthcare is a byproduct of a well-informed healthcare consumer.

Consequently, it has invested heavily in this online spine encyclopedia that has:

  • symptoms charts on when a person needs to see the doctor for back pain or neck pain;
  • information on minimally invasive spine surgery that reduces the length of the incision to reduce blood loss and the need for donated blood;
  • advances in spine surgery like the artificial disc; and
  • non-surgical treatment options for back and neck pain.
  • As a community service, Kenai Spine distributes a 36-page Home Remedy Book to Alaskans that features many home remedies for back pain and neck pain and custom stretches that can relieve pain from simple back and neck strain.

    Kenai Spine is the only spine center in the State of Alaska to be credentialed by SpineCenterNetwork.com, the only national listing of credentialed spine centers. To be included, a spine center must have board-certified fellowship-trained spine surgeons; non-surgical specialists; spine therapists; and an emphasis on non-surgical treatment options and patient education.

    The multi-disciplinary spine center includes two fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeons — Craig Humphreys, MD and John Andreshak, MD, each with more than 25 years of experience in spine surgery. The spine center combines X-ray, MRI and spine therapists all under one roof so patients no longer have to drive around to multiple locations for diagnostics and treatment.

    Kenai Spine was founded in 2011 by Dr. Craig Humphreys, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship-trained in spine, the highest level of medical training available in the United States. Dr. Humphreys has performed more than 5,000 successful spine surgeries over a 25 year career. At age 48, Dr. Craig Humphreys, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, left a busy spine practice in Tennessee to return home to where he grew up — Alaska. Dr. Humphreys’ goal was to provide the most advanced spine care for Alaska residents, particularly those in the Kenai region of the Central Peninsula. Traditionally, those people living with back pain or neck pain in places like Soldotna, Kenai, Anchor Point and Homer, often faced a three hour drive to Anchorage. The goal of Kenai Spine was to provide a more convenient option for treatment of back and neck problems.

    In 2017, Dr. John Andreshak, a Mayo Clinic-trained spine surgeon, relocated to Alaska from an active spine practice in Chicago. Dr. Andreshak has more than 25 years experience in the treatment of adult spine conditions. He specializes in degenerative spine conditions, artificial disc replacement in the cervical spine, spinal fusion, micro-discectomy and minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr Andreshak started his career as a Rocket Scientist in the Air Force after graduating from the US Air Force Academy. He then completed his Orthopaedic Surgery Training at Loyola in Chicago and the Mayo Clinic. He then served again in the US Air Force becoming Chief of Spine Surgery and serving in Operation Enduring Freedom. He relocated to Alaska from the Chicago area to pursue his enjoyment of hunting and fishing.

    Dr. Humphreys and Dr. Andreshak are viewed as a resource for primary care physicians, family practice physicians, chiropractors, neurologists and pain management specialists. Dr. Humphreys and Dr. Andreshak are both on staff at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna.

    “It’s our treatment philosophy at Kenai Spine to hold spine surgery as the last treatment option to explore before spine surgery is considered,” explains Dr. Humphreys. "I’ve seen thousands of patients can gain symptom relief from spine-specialized therapy, special injections which can reduce inflammation around the nerve root or stretches, exercises and movements that enable the body to get moving and repair itself. But there are also cases of herniated discs and spinal tumors that will not respond to non-surgical treatment options. Where there are symptoms like numbness or weakness in a hand or foot, or loss of bowel or bladder control, these spine problems need to be addressed promptly within days to prevent permanent paralysis of those nerves. Without spine surgery, those symptoms can become permanent if not operated on within a few days.

    A nonsurgical emphasis to back and neck pain

    Kenai Spine has a main clinic location on the campus of Central Peninsula Hospital at 240 Hospital Place, Suite 103, in Soldotna, Alaska 99669.

    The spine center includes non-surgical spine care including physical therapy in addition to the two fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeons. Over the past 10 years, Kenai Spine has become a referral center for those with back and neck pain with patients coming from Anchorage, Fairbanks, Nome, Sitka, Juneau, the Yukon territories and Seward.

    spine center alaska, dr craig humphreys treatment for back pain neck pain kenai alaskaWhen spine surgery is necessary

    If your back or neck problem requires surgery, Kenai Spine is able to handle the most complex surgical cases. These cases include herniated discs, spinal fractures and spinal tumor. The spine surgeons at Kenai Spine use some of the most advanced instrumentation and minimally invasive spine surgery techniques. In addition, the spine surgeons have access to the most advanced surgical navigation systems. Kenai Spine was one of the first spine centers in the State of Alaska to have access to the O-arm. This surgical navigation technology greatly improves the accuracy of the placement of surgical implants and screws. It also lessens the amount of time the patient is under anesthesia.

    Kenai Spine was also one of the first spine centers in Alaska trained in Artificial Disc Replacement. Today it is still one of the few centers proficient in both lumbar and cervical artificial disc replacement.

    In that regard, Dr. Humphreys is also the inventor of one of the most advance lumbar artificial discs called the Balanced Back Artificial Disc. Unlike all other artificial discs for the low back which need to be inserted through an incision the abdomen, the Balanced Back Artificial Disc is inserted through the back. This is a much safer approach that does not require the spine surgeon to operate around internal organs. The second benefit of the Balanced Back Artificial Disc is that the surgical implant addresses more than just the herniated disc. Because pain symptoms can be causes by problems with the facet joints of the spine, often related to aging and arthritis, the Balanced Back disc also replaces the facet joints as well. In this sense, this new technology is the first approach that resembles “joint replacement in the spine.” The new technology is now in the final stages moving toward FDA approval. More information about the Balanced Back Artificial Disc is at BalancedBack.com.

    Because of the minimally invasive spine surgery techniques used, many patients are able to have their spine surgery in the morning and then return home the same day to recover in the comfort of their own home. Because Dr. Humphreys and Dr. Andreshak also have operating privileges at Kenai Surgery Center, many patients can have their surgery in a more convenient day surgery facility.

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    Click here to download

    Pain relief through a focus on function

    Pain is a signal from the body to the brain that something is wrong. Either the back is too weak, too inflexible, something lifted was too heavy or the wrong body mechanics were used. Unfortunately, those doctors who focus exclusively on pain symptoms often recommend a course of treatment that is the exact opposite of what the individual needs to recover from the back problem.

    Years ago, for example, doctors treated back pain with bed rest and heavy drugs to mask the discomfort. It was found, however, that this type of treatment was actually damaging to the back, because it caused muscles in the back to get weaker, in turn, causing more strain and pain. Patients became more dependent on drugs and grew more inactive and disabled.

    In fact, pain relief actually can come through movement. Low-impact activites, like walking and swimming, can help the back feel better and stronger.

    Kenai Spine uses written clinical protocols to improve care and reduce treatment variation — the essence of true quality management. This enables us to make sure the right thing is done at the right time, every time. This also makes sure that every nonsurgical option has been explored — such as therapy and injections — before spine surgery is considered.

    Most people at some time in their lives will have an attack of back pain or neck pain. That’s the bad news. The good news is that 80% of the time, these back pain or neck pain symptoms will go away on their own with time, some anti-inflammatory medicine and some movement. It’s the other 20% of those with back and neck symptoms that can over time become complex problems. Many of these back pain sufferers are doomed to endless visits to the back doctor. That's because once you have your first back pain attack, you are four times more likely to have a recurrence.

    If you have back or neck pain, we can help.

     

     

Patient Success Stories
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Surgery repairs damaged disc and helps Jill get back to life!

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Artificial Disc Replacement gets Arthur back to work.

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Local veternarian back to helping patients after Spinal Stenosis.

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Surgery helps Sherry get back to traveling the world.

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Bob

Surgery repairs damaged disc and returns outdoorsman to activity.

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Paramedic gets back to life with Kenai Spine.

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Healthcare CEO back on the job after pain relieving spine surgery.

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School administrator recovers from back pain without surgery.

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Dog sled champion back on the trails after non-surgical treatment.

Educational Resources
Medical Animations

Watch various medical animations to learn about conditions and treatment options.

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View medical illustrations that help you understand pain symptoms.

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Learn about special exercises and stretches that can relieve pain and help rehab muscles and joints.

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Learn about minimally invasive surgery techniques that enable patients to go home the same day.

Where to find us

Kenai Spine is a regional referral center for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of back pain and neck pain. This includes patients with simple back and neck strain as well as the most complex spine surgery patient.  Kenai Spine is the only spine center in the State of Alaska to be included in SpineCenterNetwork.com, an exclusive national listing of spine centers of excellence that meet credentialing criteria. With a main office in Soldotna, Alaska, Kenai Spine has a multi-disciplinary staff and two fellowship-trained spine surgeons that provide assessment and treatment of back pain and neck pain problems. The spine center is a resource for those living on the Kenai Peninsula, residents of Anchorage as well as the Mat-Su Valley, including Wasilla, Palmer and Eagle River.  Click here for directions to our main office in Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula.

Physician Bios
Medical Animations

S. Craig Humphreys, MD
Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon
Fellowship-Trained Spine Surgeon

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John L. Andreshak, MD
Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon
Fellowship-Trained Spine Surgeon

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Susan Reed, PA-C
Physician Assistant
Certified


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