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Kudos for Spine Care at UAB

Adult spinal deformity, in particular scoliosis, is being seen at the UAB Spine Clinic with greater frequency. That’s to be expected with our aging population. While only a small percentage of us develop lateral curvature of the spine in childhood, many others begin developing it later in life.

A recent study of volunteers more than 60 years old revealed 60% had adult-onset scoliosis whereas only 2% of the population have early-onset scoliosis.

“Fortunately not everyone with scoliosis will require surgical treatment but some patients do enter a downward spiral, experiencing collapse of the lumbar discs which leads to loss of lumbar lordosis, the normal swayback curve of the back,” says Don Deinlein, M.D., UAB spine surgeon and associate professor.

Loss of that normal lumbar curve causes the body to lean forward, affecting balance and potentially causing muscle fatigue, back pain and falls. It also may lead to rotation of the vertebrae, which can cause pain that radiates into the legs.

UAB Orthopaedic Surgeons Specialize in Spine Surgery
Highly complex surgical techniques that have been developed and refined over the past 20 years allow UAB spine surgeons to correct many adult spinal deformities when medically necessary. Such surgeries are regularly performed at UAB by orthopaedic surgeons who subspecialize in spine, back and neck care, notes Steven Theiss, M.D., UAB section head of orthopaedic spine surgery and director of the orthopaedic residency program.

“Whereas in most medical centers a highly complex spine surgery may only be performed periodically by an orthopaedic surgeon who operates on a wide variety of problems, here at UAB, as subspecialists, we’re routinely performing these and other spine surgeries,” Theiss says.

In addition, UAB orthopaedic surgeons within the Bone and Joint Service Line are all board-certified and fellowship-trained, which allows them to subspecialize in an area of expertise such as back, neck and spine care.

Such dedication to quality care from the most complex to the most routine spine procedures is just one reason Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has designated UAB as a Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery. In June we told you about UAB’s Blue Distinction designation for Hip and Knee Replacements, another of the medical center’s Blue Distinction specialties.

Why UAB?
The Blue Distinction honor is based on optimal outcomes and few complications, with a goal to help consumers find quality specialty care on a consistent basis.

As an academic medical center dedicated to continually improving patient care, UAB tracks and reports its treatment outcomes. Treatment protocols have been developed and continue to be refined for various ailments so patients can be assured they will receive a high level of care. Subspecialists and the rest of the treatment team work closely with each patient to understand their condition and individual treatment plan.

“What’s important to the patient is their whole experience, not only with their surgeon but also with the nurses, nurse practitioners and other staff,” Theiss says. “We’re dedicated to providing a higher level of patient care, and it’s great to have had Blue Cross validate that.”

Not all patients with adult spinal deformity or other spine problems will require surgery. Many cases are managed non-surgically with medication therapy, injections or physical therapy. But if surgery is needed it’s good to know that UAB has surgeons who specialize in comprehensive spine care.

For more information…
To learn more about the UAB Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, visit uabmedicine.org/boneandjoint. If you have a referral from your primary physician and would like to schedule an appointment with a UAB neck, back and spine specialist, please call UAB HealthFinder at 205-934-9999.

The Blue Distinction designation is awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality healthcare. The selection criteria used to evaluate facilities were developed with input from a panel of expert physicians. More information on selection criteria is available at bcbs.com.

Last Update

August 10, 2010