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Naperville Sun Health Matters:
SpineAware survey no pain in the neck
Mar. 23, 2011
Living with back pain can be frustrating, especially when it gets in the way of normal daily movement - sitting, standing, sleeping and walking. The frustration can grow when pain continues despite previous treatment and surgery.
This was the case for 47-year-old Bolingbrook resident Paula Walinski who began having neck and upper back pain in 2001. She was diagnosed as having two herniated disks and underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2002. But in March 2009, she began having pain again. A third vertebra had herniated, leading to a second spinal fusion in May 2009.
"I felt better after the surgery," Walinski says. "But I was now fused from the fourth to the seventh cervical vertebrae, and my range of motion was somewhat limited. I'm a dog groomer, so I was doing a lot of contorting and stretching, which led to discomfort and even pain. I'd have to lie down for a couple of hours when I got home from work. I'm an active person and don't like to be limited."
One evening Walinski noticed an Edward e-mail inviting her to take the five-minute SpineAware questionnaire on the hospital's website. SpineAware is one of several online health risk assessments that Edward offers.
SpineAware helps people understand their spine health and chronic back pain. If the survey results suggest a person is at risk, follow-up begins with a call from an Edward Spine Center staff member who'll take their history. After the center's medical director Dr. Jeffrey Williamson-Link reviews this information, he'll make a recommendation. Typically, the patient comes in to see Williamson-Link or is referred to a spine surgeon or other spine professional.
Walinski's responses did qualify her for follow-up. After she completed an interview, Walinski received a call from SpineAware nurse navigator Becky Harski who invited Paula to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Williamson-Link. Harski not only coordinates appointments, she also contacts the patient at various points during treatment to see how they're doing.
"Everyone involved in SpineAware seemed to honestly care how I was doing," Walinski says. "Dr. Williamson-Link gave me the most thorough evaluation I've ever had. He spent a full hour and a half with me and never made me feel rushed."
Williamson-Link says what surprises him is how long many people suffer in silence. He says completing the SpineAware questionnaire can help break that pattern and lead people to seek treatment.
Williamson-Link referred Walinski to a pain specialist who put her on pregabalin, a medication for nerve pain. Physical therapy was also prescribed, including exercises and ASTYM, a treatment that stimulates natural healing by disrupting abnormal soft tissue and sending new collagen to the area being treated.
"Doing the SpineAware survey got me on the right track," Walinski says. "Now, after a couple of months of treatment, I feel 80 percent better. When I go home at night, I can do things around the house or work out. I got a lot of life back that I was missing."
Submitted by Edward Hospital
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services