With a substantial increase in spine surgeries in the United States and more than 80 percent of the general population experiencing chronic back pain, Kam Raiszadeh is taking steps to address this widespread problem.
In addition to opening four SpineZone clinics in San Diego, the Rancho Santa Fe resident and well-respected orthopedic spine surgeon recently wrote a book titled Take Back Control: A Surgeon’s Guide to Healing Your Spine Without Medications or Surgery. It is based on Raiszadeh’s 20 years of experience in the medical field and offers practical tips based on scientific-based principles and real life stories to help patients alleviate their pain without undergoing surgery.
“The main reason that prompted me to write this book was the excessive number of surgeries being done for back or neck pain,” said Raiszadeh. Over the last two decades, he noticed this trend of increased surgeries without a proportionate improvement in outcome as well as an alarming increase in the use of pain medication.
About 12 years ago, Raiszadeh joined forces with a UCSD professor who was a big proponent of strengthening and rehabilitation. As Raiszadeh learned more and saw the successes, he began to incorporate holistic non-operative methods to treat patients in his surgical practice.
He completed a two-year study with one of the large medical groups in San Diego six years ago and found that by using a strengthening-based program, compared to standard physical therapy, there was a 30 percent decrease in surgery rates.
This led him to open the first SpineZone clinic in 2005 in Mission Valley where he and his team teach patients medically-supervised therapeutic exercise. Raiszadeh said by incorporating these methods, he has found that fewer patients have required surgery and those who have undergone surgery had much better long-term results with improved function and health. He said a recent internal study showed that by utilizing these methods, narcotic use was decreased by 75 percent.
There are currently four clinics in San Diego: Escondido, La Mesa, Mission Valley and Vista. In 2015, he teamed up with his brother Kian Raiszadeh, who was a lead physician and orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente, to help expand the SpineZone vision across the nation. They are currently working on opening a fifth facility in San Diego and plan on expanding to Orange County and Los Angeles as well as to large carriers and employers.
Each location has a team of exercise physiologists, physical therapists, physicians assistants and spine specialists. “The team is multi-tiered for a reason,” said Raiszadeh. “We realize that all of us bring a complementary skills set to bear that enhances the patient’s improvement. Having them all under one roof and accessible to the patient makes this process a lot smoother and more effective.”
There are three large medical groups in San Diego that refer patients to SpineZone. “There is also a lot of interest from all of the big carriers and many large employers who realize that our current system is broken and want a solution,” said Raiszadeh. “In conjunction with the clinics, we have now incorporated an online digital program that helps educate patients regarding their condition and provides customized exercises they can do at home.”
He also decided to write a book to empower a larger population of patients who have chronic pain. “I realized that until SpineZone is more widely available, this is a much bigger message that needs to communicated.” Raiszadeh weaves in his own experience about spine problems in general and gives readers practical advice and tools to better understand their back condition and to recover. The book is currently being sold on www.amazon.com and www.takebackcontrol.com.
Although the book is targeted to those who have chronic back or neck pain, Raiszadeh said he hopes that the information will reach policy makers. “It’s a public health problem,” he said. “The impact of chronic spinal pain is a huge burden on society as far as medical costs, missed days of work, disability, and constitutes a disproportionately large percentage of the overall medical spending. All of these can be improved by a more holistic approach.”
He said one of the biggest factors causing chronic back and neck pain is our current lifestyle. “Now, in the tech age, we often bend to look down at our phones and computers in awkward angles. “Sitting for a long time is a very bad posture for your disk,” said Raiszadeh. “It’s probably the worst thing for your disc on a sustained basis to be sitting.”
Raiszadeh said his next main goal is to continue to expand SpineZone and its message. “I really feel that by educating patients on their condition, having them understand their own body’s amazing ability to heal, and providing the tools for them to tap into this healing capacity, we can empower patients to prevent chronic back or neck pain from affecting their lives,” he said.