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News

Kenai Spine is a statewide resource for primary care physicians and chiropractors

Patients with back pain and neck problems can present a formidable challenge for the primary care physician for the diagnosis of what may be causing symptoms of radicular pain or neurological deficit symptoms like weakness in a hand or foot, and then the appropriate treatment for these symptoms.

As a regional referral center for spine problems, Kenai Spine receives the most complex back and neck patients from across the State of Alaska. For example:

What kind of patients are referred to Kenai Spine

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.

Severity of new patients coming Kenai Spine

  • 26% of NEW patients had previous back surgery elsewhere
  • 74% of NEW patients had back or neck pain for longer than 4 months
  • 53% of NEW patients have pain radiating past a knee or elbow (symptoms of a herniated disc)
  • 56% of NEW patients have a leg or arm that goes numb (emergency symptoms of a herniated disc)
  • 68% of NEW patients have back or neck pain that wakes them up at night
  • 26% of NEW patients take 5 or pills daily for pain relief

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.

Clinical outcomes at Kenai Spine

  • Percent of patients who had therapy as part of their care = 69%
  • Percent of patients who received spinal injections as a non-surgical treatment alternative = 34%
  • Percent of patients receiving a Home Remedy Book with non-surgical advice = 38%
  • Percent of patients receiving a Home Exercise Program = 56%
  • Percent of patients who would recommend the clinic to a friend = 88%
  • Percent of patients who were satisfied with their overall care = 90%
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    Information for referring physicians

    If you are a primary care physician specializing in family practice, an internal medicine physician, a neurologist, rheumatologist or chiropractor who must asses back and neck pain patients, we have information that is very relevant to your patients, in that many things have evolved in the field of spine surgery over the past year that improve treatment of spine problems, including the following:

    Artificial disc replacement for the cervical spine:

    Clinical outcomes research from the North American Spine Society now clearly recommends the use of artificial discs for the cervical spine to reduce “adjacent segment disc degeneration” that occurs with spinal fusion. While cervical fusion has been the traditional option for herniated discs in the neck, it has been shown that locking vertebral segments in the neck increases the stress placed on other discs in the neck, causing other disc herniations. Because the artificial disc retains normal motion, it reduces the risk of disc herniation at adjacent levels. Kenai Spine was one of the first centers in Alaska trained to use the Mobi-C artificial disc which was the first FDA-approved disc for one or two levels in the neck.

    Minimally invasive spine surgery:

    The new standard is to perform spine surgery through a half-inch incision using tubular retractors about the width of a ball point pen. Smaller incisions reduce blood loss and the need for outside blood; lessen pain after surgery and during recovery; and shorten the stay in the hospital. Some patients can go home the same day.

    O-arm surgical navigation system:

    Kenai Spine was one of the first spine specialty centers in the State of Alaska to use the advanced O-arm technology at Central Peninsula Hospital for more accurate imaging and placement of instrumentation during spine surgery.

    The multi-disciplinary spine center includes two fellowship-trained spine surgeons — Craig Humphreys, MD and John Andreshak, MD. For non-surgical spine care, Kenai Spine includes the expertise of Mark Simonson, MD, a Mayo Clinic-trained spine specialist who provides non-surgical treatment options including spinal injections. 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.

    Our philosophy about a well-informed patient

    We believe the best healthcare comes from a well-informed healthcare consumer. Consequently, Kenai Spine provides several communication tools for physicians:

    • a 36-page Home Remedy Book on back and neck pain
    • SYMPTOM GUIDE that explains to the patient when to see the doctor for emergent issues for spine problems
    • Handouts on DIET, SMOKING and NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
    • Back to Life Journal on advances in non-surgical treatment options and minimally invasive spine surgery.

    Contact our office for any of these materials for your patients and we will send them to your office for free.

    Lastly, Kenai Spine is the only spine center in Alaska to be credentialed by SpineCenterNetwork.com, which is the only national network of spine centers that meet credentialing criteria. To be included, a spine center must have board-certifed spine surgeons and non-surgical specialists; spine therapists; and an emphasis on non-surgical treatment options.

    We are now IN-NETWORK with all major insurance companies including: Aetna; BCBS; Cigna; First Choice Health; Multiplan (which covers UHC, MODA, Rehn and Associates, etc.); Healthnet; Workers Comp; VA; Medicare & Medicaid.


    New Carolyn Jane Foundation supports local charity organizations on the Kenai Peninsula

    March 2018 — Soldotna

    Every year, Kenai Spine contributes time and financial resources to support the Carolyn Jane Foundation a 501c(3) charitable organization. The mission of the Carolyn Jane Foundation is to bring orthopedic care to rural areas of need.

    As an elementary school teacher in Anchorage, Carolyn Jane Humphreys witnessed many young people caught in tenuous situations beyond their control. She realized that school was often the only stable and safe space for children. She developed federally-funded learning programs to reach remote Alaskan village populations, and broke down cultural and literacy barriers ever present in the forgotten corners of Anchorage. Helping people for the sake of helping was ingrained in Carolyn Jane and her family without an expectation of a “thank you.”

    Kenai Spine is a big supporter of the Kenai Animal Shelter. Spine center employees volunteer at the Kenai Animal Shelter. The Kenai Spine team helps with a number of duties at the Animal Shelter including helping care for the animals living in the shelter. This support also includes charitable donations to the animal shelter. The Kenai Animal Shelter houses dogs and cats looking for loving, forever homes. The shelter even has other animals such as rabbits, ferrets or birds.

    The Foundation also provides contributions to local high school sports teams, local 10k runs and walks and other charitable groups.


    Kenai Spine clinical team travels to Kenya to provide free spine surgery

    February 2018 — Kenya, Africa

    Over the past eight years, Dr. Humphreys, his family and the Kenai Spine clinical team have made several journeys to Africa on medical mission trips with the World Medical Mission organization where they volunteered to provide health care to a much-needed area of Kenya.

    World Medical Mission was established in 1977 to assist surgeons who wanted to volunteer for short-term mission trips in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, Oceania, and the Middle East.

    On a 2014 trip to Kenya, Dr. Humphreys identified a Kenyan hospital — CURE Kenya — which provided the surgical operating rooms and necessary surgical instrumentation to enable the Kenai Spine team to perform complex spine surgery for under-served patients in Kenya, East Africa. This included complex scoliosis correction that would not otherwise be available in Kenya. While Dr. Humphreys worked with local physicians to provide medical care, his wife and children volunteered many hours of service working in the pediatric ward of the hospital providing comfort and relief to the many children admitted there.

    By collaborating with CURE Kenya, Dr. Humphreys has been able to build a non-profit spine program that educates local orthopedic surgeons, while providing affordable spinal health care to those suffering from neck and back pain. The missions to CURE Kenya are ongoing and are typically performed annually.

    The 2018 Mission Trip to Kenya involved the donation of medical products and equipment from multiple companies. The KenaiSpine clinical team and CURE Kijabi hospital was able to forever change the lives of 13 patients from all over Africa. Many of these individuals — ages 13 to 63 — were immobile, in great pain, with no hope. The clinical team helped to give these people back their lives.


    Dr. Craig Humphreys, founder of Kenai Spine, was named Alaska State Medical Board President for 2018.

    January 2018 — Anchorage

    The State Medical Board consists of five physicians, one physician assistant and two public members. Board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The Board adopts regulations to carry out the laws governing the practice of medicine in Alaska. The Board is responsible for protecting the public through the licensing, regulation, and discipline of physicians, podiatrists, physician assistants, and mobile intensive care paramedics. The Board establishes and evaluates minimum education and competency standards for applicants who wish to practice medicine in Alaska. It also makes final licensing decisions and takes disciplinary action against people who violate the licensing laws. The board meets four times a year and offers a public comment period at each meeting. Meeting agendas and minutes are available from the executive administrator. The board’s Mission Statement states that its goal is to ensure that competent, professional and regulated commercial services are available to Alaska consumers.


    Kenai Spine adds new Mayo-trained spine surgeon along with new Anchorage office

    March 2017 — Soldotna

    In March, Kenai Spine added a new Anchorage office on the campus of Providence Hospital. It also welcomed a new fellowship-trained spine surgeon to reduce the long wait time for a new appointment slot. The new spine surgeon also brings new capabilities in spine care.

    John Andreshak, MD is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, fellowship trained in spine surgery, who relocated to Alaska from Chicago where he had an active spine practice affiliated with the prestigious Northwestern Hospital system. Dr. Andreshak completed his spine surgery fellowship at the Mayo Clinic.

    Like the rest of the spine care team, Dr. Andreshak shares a conservative philosophy where the goal is to explore all non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery.

    Dr. Mark Simonson, also Mayo Clinic trained, directs the non-surgical spine care team, which includes spinal injections and spine therapy within the internal exercise gym in our main Soldotna office on the campus of Central Peninsula Hospital. The new Anchorage office makes Kenai Spine much more convenient to all those spine patients who traveled to Soldotna over the years.


    SpineCenterNetwork.com adds Kenai Spine to its national list of credentialed spine centers of excellence in March

    March 2013 — Soldotna

    Wouldn’t it be convenient if someone created a listing of spine centers of excellence across the United States that all emphasize non-surgical treatment options before surgery? Where the staff included board-certified spine specialists who are fellowship-trained in spine — the highest level of training available in the United States? Where centers reveal their outcomes on a Clinical Outcome Report Card? Finally, there is a free online educational resource: SpineCenterNetwork.com.

    "The online network is a byproduct of one-on-one meetings with health insurance company medical directors, employers and primary care doctors who were looking for spine programs that emphasized conservative care first," explains Bob Reznik, MBA, president of Prizm Development, Inc. "Dartmouth Medical Atlas has documented tremendous treatment variation in spine care," says Reznik. "Some spine practices emphasize aggressive spine surgery too often. Other clinics can emphasize too many injections. Sadly, too many times the back pain sufferer has to travel to multiple offices for biased opinions, misleading information, fragmented care, conflicting diagnoses and treatment plans — and often an unnecessary surgery. That is the perceived problem with spine care today."

    Spine Center Network features about 15 multi-disciplinary spine centers that meet the credentialing criteria of the network. The most recent spine center to be added is Kenai Spine in Alaska, which was added in March 2013. The spine center combines under one roof a fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon; affiliated board-certified specialists in non-surgical treatment options and spinal injections; X-ray; and a team of internal spine therapists with an exercise gym. Clinical outcomes are tracked and patients receive a Home Remedy Book that emphasizes non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery.


    Dr. Craig Humphreys, Planetree Physician Champion 2013 for Central Peninsula Hospital

    The Physician Champion Award presented by Planetree recognizes a physician who champions the Planetree model of compassionate, patient-centered care and whose actions demonstrate her or him to be a role model for other medical staff members.

    Planetree, a worldwide, not-for-profit organization raising the standard of personalized healthcare by coaching organizations to inspire and enable their caregivers to transform the healthcare experience they provide. Central Peninsula Hospital has been actively engaged in implementing the Planetree model for the past 10 years, focusing on compassionate, individualized care and providing meaningful opportunities to partner with patients and families. This fall CPH was named a Planetree Designated ® Patient-Centered Hospital, making CPH one of 24 hospitals nation-wide and one of 45 internationally who have achieved this distinction.

     


    Dr. Craig Humphreys, fellowship-trained spine surgeon, featured in Central Peninsula Hospital commercial showcasing the O-Arm Technology

     


    Dr. Craig Humphreys is featured in the new issue of Alaska Pulse magazine featuring “New Spine Imaging Technology – Medtronic O-arm Surgical Imaging System.”

     

Patient Success Stories
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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 the only spine center in the State of Alaska to be included in Spine Center Network, an exclusive national listing of spine centers of excellence that meet credentialing criteria related to fellowship-trained spine surgeons; non-surgical Mayo Clinic-trained MD physical medicine specialist for back and neck pain; and affiliated spine therapists. With an office on the Kenai Peninsula, and two offices in Anchorage, Kenai Spine provides great convenience to those with back pain or neck pain problems who live around Anchorage, including Wasilla, Palmer, Eagle River and the Mat-Su Valley. Click here for directions to our Anchorage offices or 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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Mark Simonson, MD
Board Certified in PM&R
Board Certified in Pain Medicine