Even patients whose symptoms do not appear urgent want to get started on their recovery quickly and don’t want to wait weeks to be evaluated.
The goal of Norton Leatherman Spine Back and Neck Pain Clinics is to see patients referred by primary care physicians, emergency departments or other clinicians in an expedited fashion.
We strive to offer appointments within 72 hours of referral and often can see patients the next day. Even patients whose symptoms do not appear urgent want to get started on their recovery quickly and don’t want to wait weeks to be evaluated.
During this initial appointment with a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, the patient’s issue is identified, and a working diagnosis is made. Urgent surgical needs are identified and reviewed with a surgeon immediately. Any imaging (X-ray, CT, MRI) will be reviewed and ordered if needed. All imaging is reviewed by a physician.
Patients who are candidates for surgery will see a surgeon. A physician assistant or nurse practitioner follows nonsurgical patients, deciding whether to manage with non-narcotic medications or to refer the patient to physical therapy or pain management, or all of the above.
This system is the most efficient and immediate way to triage the hundreds of calls we get each day. We have the ability to identify spinal pathology and recognize issues that can mimic spinal conditions, such as hip or shoulder pathology or carpal tunnel syndrome, and refer the patient to the appropriate specialist.
In the majority of patients we see, they are experiencing lower back pain, neck pain, radiating pain or paresthesia caused by a herniated or bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, facet syndrome or spinal stenosis. For patients who don’t need or want surgery, we can help reduce pain and improve function with therapies such as non-narcotic medications, physical therapy, pain management referrals for multiple injections and radiofrequency ablation. We educate patients about the source of their pain and expected recovery. Information can alleviate anxiety and concern for patients who are often eager to return to their usual lifestyle as quickly as possible.
Since the initial rollout of the Back and Neck Pain Clinics in October 2020, the response has been tremendous. After a referral, we call the patient by the next day to set up an appointment. If the referral comes in on a weekend, we’ll call the patient on Monday.
Patients and medical providers appreciate a clinic that will evaluate back and neck pain quickly, as many of these patients are miserable and desperate for help. Often, they have been bouncing back and forth between an emergency room and their primary care provider’s office. We give them another avenue to pursue.
Patients don’t need a full work-up before they are seen. The only patients who aren’t appropriate for the clinic are those who have had surgery elsewhere in the past year and those seeking a surgical second opinion. Those patients should schedule an appointment with a surgeon directly, rather than through the Back and Neck Pain Clinics.
It doesn’t matter whether a patient has been experiencing symptoms for two days or two decades. They all want their concerns addressed quickly. We’ve set up the Back and Neck Pain Clinics to do just that.
Kimathi W. Doss, M.D., is a spine surgeon and neurosurgeon with Norton Leatherman Spine.
Sara B. Seifert, PA-C, specializes in neurosurgery with Norton Leatherman Spine.