A back problem can manifest itself in many ways, so see a spine specialist sooner rather than later
Dr. Ali Zahrai sees all types of back problems when people visit Alexander Orthopaedics’ office in Trinity. But in most cases, there’s one common thread — very few of his patients will need surgery.
That said, what many people may not know is that a spine problem can manifest itself in many ways, which requires careful analysis by a spine surgeon to determine what’s going on. With this mind, we asked Dr. Zahrai about questions he’s asked most often:
Q: Why should people with back issues go to a spine surgeon?
A: Most people who have back pain more than one time may be suffering from an old injury or accident. Or in many cases, the issue may be back pain caused by issues with the sciatic nerve. It’s important to see a surgeon who specializes in spine disorders — someone who’s trained on what to look for in an MRI.
Q: What are some of the most common problems your patients have?
A: It really runs the gamut, from back or neck pain, to pain radiating to the arms and legs. We help people who have degenerative disc disease, people who’ve had narrowing of the spine from an injury, people with difficulty walking because of weakness and pain, and people with weakness in their arms caused by compression of the spinal cord.
Q: How can a spine problem manifest itself in other parts of the body?
A: There are many ways this can happen. Problems in the neck can lead to headaches or a lack of coordination. Impingement of the spinal cord can cause people to stumble or drop things. And sometimes pain in the lower back can actually be related to arthritis in the hip. So it’s important to get to what the true issue is.
Q: Why should someone see you now vs. later?
A: There is no harm in coming to see us, and we often find that time is of the essence. Most of our patients — I would say about 90 percent — don’t need surgery. But there are many other ways we can help, whether it’s physical therapy, pain management through injections, or epidurals. We do our pain management here, so we can have quality control throughout the entire process.
Q: Do most patients get relief with your help?
A: The vast majority of people who undergo treatment at Alexander Orthopaedics have an improved quality of life afterward, with significant relief from pain.
Q: How is technology affecting your work?
A: We are doing robotic spine surgery that helps make our work more exact. With robotic surgery, incision sizes are smaller and there’s less blood loss, making for a better experience for the patient. Also, we do back surgery using access through the abdominal wall, which reduces risk and helps with recovery.
Q: Why should someone go to Alexander Orthopaedics?
A: For us, it’s about the quality of our surgeons and our highly experienced staff, with a focus on great service. It’s important to check out the backgrounds of the doctors. I trained at Emory University, one of the best fellowships of its kind, and I now teach residents how to stay on top of their game. As director of spine surgery and director of robotic surgery at Largo Medical Center, I also train doctors around the country on how to do robotic surgery.
To learn more about Dr. Zahrai and to schedule an appointment at Alexander Orthopaedics, visit AlexanderOrthopaedics.com or call its office in Trinity at 727-369-8605.