Finding the Real Cause of Your Pain
By Michael A. Catino, M.D., Texas Spine, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Denton County LIVING WELL Magazine
The landscape of medicine is clearly changing. As our economy struggles to recover and health care reform is underway, we find that our health care dollars don’t go quite as far as they used to. It is now necessary to find physicians who provide not only quality but efficacious care. Several of the patients I see these days, some who are in a great deal of pain, are reluctant to proceed with treatment because of fear of large co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses. They would rather continue to suffer with their pain than be burdened with large health care expenses. Futher, I have seen many patients for second opinions who have undergone unnecessary tests and procedures that, in addition to being quite expensive, have not contributed to an improvement in their condition or quality of life. Far too often, I see patients who have been misdiagnosed and placed on a treatment path that simply “meanders” in an inefficient manner toward any meaningful goal.
As a spine surgeon, I can tell you that the causes of back pain, numbness, tingling, or radiating pain are numerous. That “bulging disc” isn’t likely the sole source of your spinal complaints. The accurate diagnosis of the cause requires a thorough exam that most fundamentally begins with taking time to truly listen to you, the patient. Often, any further tests I recommend are ordered only to confirm the diagnosis suggested by the initial examination. The practice of ordering multiple tests to make the diagnosis can be very costly and even contribute to the wrong diagnosis for the source of pain. Commonly a new patient will tell me that they spent five minutes with their last doctor, underwent an MRI, and were told that it was normal. Perhaps the MRI was not the appropriate test or maybe it was misinterpreted. These patients will commonly be placed on a “meandering” treatment plan that is costly and ineffective simply because an accurate diagnosis was never made.
At Texas Spine, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, our approach is to spend as much time as necessary with our patients to formulate an accurate diagnosis so that the most concise and efficient treatment plan can be delivered. We strongly believe this fundamental philosophy is mandatory if we wish to achieve the level of care we would want for ourselves or our family. Many patients who come to our practice will have more than one issue contributing to their pain. For example, it is not uncommon for shoulder pain to be caused by rotator cuff degeneration, shoulder arthritis, or possibly a pinched nerve in the neck. When necessary, such patients may benefit from further evaluation by one of our many specialists to further clarify the diagnosis.
Dr. Paul Whatley is an orthopedic surgeon who completed a sports medicine fellowship at the prestigious Hughston Clinic. His specialized training enables him to perform once considered complex surgeries through minimally invasive incisions. Dr. Jay Bender is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in degenerative joint disease and joint replacement surgery. His compassion and expertise in this area makes him endeared by his patients. Dr. Jennifer Zahn, physical medicine and rehabilitation, is respected for her empathetic connection with her patients and ability to establish sophisticated non-operative care plans. By recommending various therapies, medications, and possibly selective injections, Zahn is frequently able to successfully treat her patients without the need for more invasive surgery.
Patients’ concerns regarding medical expenses are clearly associated with the current economic decline and health care reform. By adhering to the fundamental principles inherent to our training, it is possible to provide excellent care in a cost efficient manner. By caring for our patients in the same way we would want to be treated ourselves and by providing comprehensive expertise in various musculoskeletal conditions, Texas Spine, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation is proud to be able to provide quality and efficacious care to our patients.
Dr. Michael Catino, Dr. Paul Whatley, Dr. Jay Bender, and Dr. Jennifer Zahn are the physicians of Texas Spine, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. Please call 940-323-3400 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.