Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Helping patients navigate spine care - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Helping patients navigate spine care

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Are you suffering with back pain or pinched nerves? These ailments can be frustrating but relief may be closer than you think. The Avera Acute Spine Center helps patients navigate from their first doctor visit through rehab and beyond.
Raising five kids is a full time job for Alan Barch Jr. It's also a job that became increasingly difficult after nagging bouts of back and leg pain popped up.

"The main thing that got me in here was when I had what's called footdrop where I couldn't point my toe up and it was about hundred pounds weaker than the left leg." said Barch.

So Alan called the Avera Acute Spine Center and was hooked up with navigator Amanda Jungman.

"My job is to oversee the care of patients to kind of help triage them to the right place so that they get to the right specialist." said Jungman.

After reviewing his case, Alan was referred to Dr. Jose Santos and was put through a conservative management plan of treatment.

"Conservative management consists of medications such as your anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants and physical therapy for core strengthening, myofascial release or other modalities to release the pain." said Dr. Santos, with the Avera Medical Group Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation.

In most cases, physical therapy and medications help clear up back and nerve issues by strengthening the core but Alan's pain never subsided.

"I tried those things and then came back and he said let's get you an MRI and x-ray and then I'll send you up to Dr. Klopper who then checked me over and decided that surgery was my best option." said Barch.

"These are normal disks they are white because they are full of water and they are expanded." said Dr. Santos.

The MRI revealed disk defects in Alan's lower vertebrae as the culprits of his nerve pain.

"The reason that he had pressure on the nerve was because he had what you could think of as a stress fracture in one of the joints in his back that caused the bones to slip a little bit on each other." said Dr. Henk Klopper a neurosurgeon with the Avera Medical Group Neurosurgery.

To repair the damage and relieve the pain Alan needed surgery. Dr. Klopper spent four hours releasing the pressure in a surgery that fused Alan's three lower vertebrae together. More than three months later the nerve pain is gone, but Alan is still working hard to rehab. It's not easy but at least he still has Amanda's navigation to help connect the dots.

"You want to have the least amount of stress outside of the actual surgery and recovery as possible and they did a great job of that." said Barch.

Whether it was a question about a medication or setting up an appointment, Alan only needed to make one phone call  throughout the process.
That's the goal of the navigator and acute spine center: to make sure no patient falls through the cracks.

"They are following with the one person who can really keep up, you know we know what's going on and keep them on that path." said Jungman.

Alan's journey ultimately led to surgery, but only after conservative treatments failed. While the recovery road isn't a short one, at least this dad is once again able to do his most important job and do it pain free.

Being seen by a specialist early on is essential in getting effective treatment without surgery. So if you have had lingering back pain in the past 6 months a spine navigator is waiting for your call. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA
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