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Clinical Outcomes

Kenai Spine receives the most complex cases of back and neck pain from across the State of Alaska

Unlike primary care practices or general orthopedic practices, Kenai Spine as a regional referral center receives far more complex patients than any other entity in the State of Alaska.

New patients coming into Kenai Spine complete an intake form that audits symptoms of a herniated disc, functional status, pain medications needed, and if they had previous spine surgery. 

Clinical outcome studies by an outside entity that works with spine centers across the United States documents the following Patient Severity of new patients coming in the front door: 

Clinical outcome highlights at Kenai Spine — 2016

  • One of four patients coming in the front door at Kenai Spine have had previous back or neck surgery at other clinics. 
  • Half of new patients coming to the spine center have symptoms like radiating pain or numbness into a leg or arm, which implies a herniated disc, rather than simple acute back or neck strain from muscle or tendon strain.
  • 74% of new patients have suffered from back or neck pain for 4 months or longer. 

This severity of new patients presents a challenge for a spine center. Still, the spine center emphasized non-surgical options first, holding surgery as the last resort.

 

PATIENT SEVERITY: Kenai Spine handles the most extreme cases of back and neck pain

Kenai Spine was founded in 2011 to address the many complex cases of back and neck pain in Alaska. Over the past five years, Kenai Spine has evolved into a regional spine center of excellence and is referred the most complex cases of back and neck pain from across the State. One of four patients coming in the front door have had previous back or neck surgery at other clinics. Additionally, half of new patients coming to the spine center have symptoms like radiating pain or numbness into a leg or arm, which implies disc-related symptoms, rather than simple acute back or neck strain. Another 74% of these new patients had suffered from back or neck pain for 4 months or longer. This severity of new patients presents a challenge for a spine center. Still, the spine center emphasized non-surgical options first, holding surgery as the last resort.

 

Emphasizing conservative options first for a “Stairway to Success”

A true multidisciplinary spine center should emphasize conservative treatment options first like therapy and pain-relieving spinal injections to lessen the need for spine surgery, which should form a downward Stairway to Success as shown in this chart. This stairway documents that the more you emphasize NON-surgical treatment options like physical therapy or injections, fewer patients will need to resort to surgery for relief of symptoms. Consequently, 79% of patients recovered from pain symptoms without surgery. Patient education is another focus of the spine center as 56% received a customized home exercise program in 2016 to prevent recurrence.

 

Patient satisfaction

A phone survey is used to audit patient satisfaction — the most accurate survey method possible. That’s because mail surveys have an inherent sampling bias based on those who take the time to respond. Three months after the first visit an outside RN (not affiliated or employed by the center) calls a random sample of patients at home. The nurse then interviews patients on their satisfaction with the doctor seen, the time the doctor spends with the patient, the medical explanation provided, etc. At Kenai Spine 90% of patients said they were satisfied with the overall care provided to them.

 

Resolving weakness & prescribing an Rx of exercise

The main reason people go to the doctor is for relief of pain. But if a spine physician focuses exclusively on pain, he can miss the target of return to activity. For example, spine specialized therapists move the patient quickly into exercise. At intake, 41% of patients rated their pain level at 7 or more on a 1-10 analog pain scale. After three months, it improved to only 20%. A significant number of patients had relief from disc-related symptoms. At intake 49% cited weakness in an arm or leg, which improved to only 32%. At the same time patients reduced their use of pills, from 26% of new patients taking 5 or pills daily to only 16% after treatment.

 

Return to work & activity

Having a more complex patient mix makes return to work more difficult than a clinic that treats simple back pain. For example, of those patients who had simple acute back or neck pain in this year’s sample, 100% returned to work and activity. The majority of patients, however, were either chronic back pain or those with failed back surgery syndrome from other clinics. Case in point: 26% of new patients coming to Kenai Spine had previous back surgery elsewhere, and 86% of these patients returned to work/activity. Of those with back pain longer than 4 months with disc-related symptoms, 85% returned to work/activity.

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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