The Options to Open Back Spine Surgery

patient-after-spine-surgeryThere are safe and effective alternatives to alleviating back pain other than enduring the risks and long recovery rates associated with traditional open back surgery. Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, at the Spine Institute Northwest, offers patients minimally invasive surgery and treatments to help you get back to the active life you led prior to your painful onset of symptoms.

Laser Spine Surgery Offers a Second Chance

Daniel Schmalzried lived a very physically active life. He is a US military veteran, and had toiled away in underground mining, ranch work, trucking, and logging jobs, all of which can wreak havoc on the spine over the years. A couple of years ago, Daniel found that he could no longer work at all due to intense back pain in addition to numbness and weakness in his left leg. His weakness had become so pervasive that he could barely lift a gallon of milk from the refrigerator. It turned out that he had degenerative disc disease that was causing two of his vertebrae to scrape against one another. He needed help, but the medical professionals he’d seen informed him that he was too old to have risky back surgery. He soon discovered they were referring to traditional open back surgery, not realizing the alternatives offered by minimally invasive techniques.

Dr. Kamson Offers a Solution

After Daniel met with Dr. Sol Kamson, he realized that, if he’d been given the choice of minimally invasive surgery from the beginning, he would have immediately gone for it and spared himself two years of pain.

The minimally invasive surgery needed to help this particular patient was a lumbar interbody fusion. This surgical procedure performed at the Spine Institute Northwest fuses together the two joints that are grinding against one another. This relieves the severe pain that was caused by the bone that was sitting on Daniel’s nerve. It also helped restore the strength in his left leg. The disc above this area was trimmed of extraneous matter or bone material and stem cells (regenerative therapy) were injected into the area to speed up healing.

The type of minimally invasive spine surgeries Dr. Kamson performs eliminates the need to cut through muscle, as traditional spinal surgery often requires. Recovery after this type of open back surgery also requires extensive post-surgical muscle strengthening, which can be painful and take a long time.

Contact Dr. Kamson at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, for more information about minimally invasive spine surgery and how certain procedures can help you have a second chance at the active life you want back. Call one of our patient advocates today at (208) 496-0630 to schedule an appointment.

Can a Torn Spinal Disc Be Fixed?

Torn spinal discs (also known as annular tears or herniated, bulging, ruptured, and slipped discs) affect millions of people worldwide. Your spinal discs can become torn due to an injury you sustain, but most often, discs are damaged because of degenerative disc disease, a condition associated with aging and normal wear and tear.
soccer sports injuries
Your intervertebral discs give your spine the cushioning support it needs so you can comfortably move and bend. If a disc or discs become damaged, the end result can cause you extremely painful symptoms. Here’s some important information from the Spine Institute Northwest about degenerative disc disease and how the latest forms of treatment provided by Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, can help alleviate your pain.

Intervertebral Discs: What Are They?

Spinal discs are situated between each of your vertebrae. They are composed of two layers of soft tissue. The outer layer is called the annulus fibrosus, and the softer, gelatinous inner layer is the nucleus pulposus. Think of those insole support pads for shoes. They contain a gel-like material that helps absorb some of the shock your feet endure as you walk or run. Your spinal discs work in a similar way as they let your spine withstand pressure and bear weight more comfortably.

If you’ve severely and suddenly injured your back or neck, you may need surgery right away to treat the issue and avoid future problems. But more chronic painful symptoms of degenerative disc disease can take years to surface, at which time the soft tissue breakdown can be extensive. At this point, you have a few different options for treatment.

Will Time Alone Heal the Damage?

Actually, an annular tear can sometimes heal on its own, but it’s difficult to know if self-healing will actually occur. The process by which a damaged disc heals over time is called resorption. When the inflammation of a torn disc attracts certain cells known as phagocytes, these new cells absorb into the body, extinguishing the herniated cells. The process occurs naturally for some people, while resorption doesn’t occur for others, unfortunately.

Conservative Treatments for Herniated Discs

You can relieve the pain associated with torn discs, at least for a while, using over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers. Other measures include cortisone injections, rest, physical therapy, low-impact exercises, and massage therapy. If pain persists or worsens, you may need an MRI or another imaging test so Dr. Kamson can evaluate the disc in question and perhaps offer more intensive solutions.

Other Treatments

You may have tried all of the above conservative treatments, are still in pain, but want to avoid any type of surgery. If so, you may want to consider regenerative treatments. These therapies often use stem cells from your own body to help heal torn discs using a minimally invasive technique. The cells are injected into the damaged disc. The injected material is sometimes combined with other natural substances to advance healing and create new, healthy cell growth.

If you’re interested in fixing your torn spinal disc issues or having any questions about intervertebral disc treatments, contact Dr. Sol Kamson at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, today to discover more. Call us at (208) 496-0630.

Tips on Post-Surgical Home Recovery After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

42307279-nurse-taking-female-patients-blood-pressure-in-hospitalOne of the advantages of having minimally invasive spine surgery is the shorter recovery period you’ll need as opposed to more invasive types of procedures. Although a speedier recovery time is a big plus, patients will still need a window of time after surgery during which mobility will be decreased.

If you undergo one of the minimally invasive spine procedures, such as those regularly performed at the Spine Institute Northwest under the guidance of Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, you’ll want to ensure that your recovery time at home is comfortable and your quality of life is impacted as little as possible. As the date of your spine surgery nears, it’s a good idea to have some specific items at hand in your home to help you with certain tasks during your recovery.

After a minimally invasive spinal procedure, you will want to avoid twisting your back or reaching up over your head. To avoid these movements, be sure that any pajamas or clothing you wear have buttons in front for closure, so you won’t have to pull any clothing up over your head. Choose nightwear that is large enough to keep you from being confined from movement, yet not so large that the material will clump up beneath you. You’re also bound to have an itch in an area you shouldn’t be reaching for during your recovery. Buy an inexpensive backscratcher or use a long-handled, wooden spoon to scratch that itch.

Keep a cooler full of ice packs and beverages nearby your recovery area to avoid moving around too much the first few days post-surgery. Another handy item to have nearby is a grabber. This long-handled ‘claw’ that you squeeze to grab things just out of reach will help you retrieve the TV remote, snacks, a pack of tissues, or something you’ve dropped without too much exertion or bending. Don’t forget to put trash bags on your list of shopping items for your at-home recovery period. A plastic bag will come in handy if you’re having difficulty moving in and out of bed. If you lay down on the bag first, you can then slide off the bed more easily when you need to get up. Wear a slip-on shoe with a rubber sole, like Crocs, to help you get mobile and walk around without having to bend over and work with shoelaces.

Finally, think about your movements while taking a shower. Have a long-handled bath brush and shower gel ready to use so you can reach areas of your body easily and without stress or strain.

You can discuss these tips and obtain many other pieces of advice from Dr. Kamson when you go over the details of your minimally invasive procedure and period of recovery. Call Dr. Sol Kamson at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, today and make an appointment to discuss your specific needs.

Dr. Sol Kamson’s Presentation on Minimally Invasive Procedures

dr-solomon-kamson-wfmiss-panelThe World Federation of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (WFMISS) exists to promote an exchange of scientific ideas and findings among specialists who are dedicated to minimally invasive spine surgeries and treatments. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, had the honor of presenting at the 2014 World Congress of WFMISS in Istanbul, Turkey.

Dr. Kamson presented his findings on a panel that was focused on less invasive surgical treatments for the spine. His presentation, “Full Endoscopic Lumbar Fusion Surgeries Performed in Outpatient Center – Outcomes Study,” observed the end results of 32 minimally invasive fusion procedures performed on patients at his surgical outpatient center.

Twelve of the subjects in this study had been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, two had been in car accidents in addition to having endured work-related injuries, while two others had specifically experienced injuries on the job. Five patients had been hurt in a different manner, and ten people were unsure as to the root of their chronic pain. Dr. Kamson performed decompression on these patients at the fused level as an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia. One hundred percent of the lumbar fusion patients were complication-free within 72 hours of the procedure. Sixty-two percent of the patients experienced less than 5 cc of blood loss, an extremely minimal amount.

Dr. Kamson reviewed the longitudinal data, noting a substantial increase in pain relief as compared to the Visual Analog Scale each patient filled out prior to the procedure as compared to how each felt post-surgery after six months. Patients who had reported their back pain as averaging a 7.29 on the scale described their pain as going down to 3.95 on average, post-surgery. Those experiencing leg pain went from 5.5 on average to 2.66. The patients were generally pleased with their surgical outcomes, with 91% satisfied to some level, 59% reporting they were a “great deal satisfied,” and nearly 72% stating they would recommend minimally invasive lumbar fusion to others.

Positive long-term outcomes for minimally invasive lumbar fusion procedures are backed up by the research data Dr. Kamson presented at the World Federation.

You can read his research data and findings presented at the 2014 World Congress of WFMISS Istanbul on the Spine Institute Northwest website.

To learn more about how minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgeries work and what you can expect before, during and after recovery, call the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA today.

Regenerative Therapy To Treat Pain

stem cell therapyDr. Sol Kamson is dedicated to keeping abreast of the latest, most innovative research findings in the field of pain relief treatment due to injury- or age-related tissue loss and damage.

Regenerative medicine techniques can be used in some cases as an alternative to or add-on treatment for orthopedic surgery procedures and/or spinal disease. One such disorder is degenerative disc disease, which occurs when the tissue in one’s intervertebral discs wears away, causing chronic pain and/or arthritis.

Degenerative disc disease has traditionally been treated with surgeries such as disc replacement and spinal fusion. With the advent of regenerative therapies, these degrading discs can help heal themselves without surgical intervention. This type of therapy works to trigger your body’s innate healing abilities. Natural substances are placed within the area of pain to stimulate collagen growth. These new collagen fibers strengthen the areas that are affected and relieve pain.

Dr. Kamson offers three types of regenerative materials within his treatment plans: platelet-rich plasma (PRP), BioD, and MatriStem.

PRP is made up of concentrated platelet cells that come from a patient’s own blood, making it a safe, natural substance for use in regenerative medicine. The PRP is injected into the site of injury, and its natural growth factors aid in speeding up and stimulating the healing process. PRP is useful in a variety of orthopedic ailments.

BioD is composed of placental afterbirth tissue cells in addition to cells taken from live donors in the midst of childbirth. The proteins, growth factors, and other potent material in these cells are placed with the pain area or injured site for help in recovery and relief. Sol Kamson has used BioD during microdiscectomy, discectomy, interspinal muscle or nerve bundle protection, and laminectomy procedures.

MatriStem is derived from pig bladders. The tissue used in MatriStem is a complex protein that is similar in makeup to human tissue. The cells in this substance help prevent the formation of scars. They trigger cells to revert to their normal activities related to healing. MatriStem is used in a variety of procedures, particularly those stemming from sports injuries.

Regenerative therapy for degenerative disc disease and other orthopedic issues is the least invasive technique to help with alleviating back, neck, and other areas of pain involving joints and discs. This promising treatment offers relief for those who suffer from acute or chronic spinal pain.

Contact Dr. Solomon Kamson and the team at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA,  to discover more about regenerative therapy and whether this is a route you should explore to get back to living life to the fullest.

Excellence in Pain Practice Award

dr. kamson

Sol Kamson MD is very proud that the Spine Institute Northwest has earned an Excellence in Pain Practice (EPP) Award from the World Institute of Pain. The achievement of this award provides Dr. Kamson and his colleagues with recognition of their dedication to treating patients with the highest quality of care and for attending continued educational and training programs and seminars in the field of interventional pain management.

The World Institute of Pain began distributing the EPP Award in 2010 to promote the highest models and standards of pain management practice around the globe. This organization was founded over 20 years ago by Phulchand Prithvi Raj, Ricardo Ruiz Lopez, and Gabor B. Racz, in order to help physicians and researchers work together to improve the quality of life of those suffering from chronic and acute pain.

Pain Treatment Center Credentials

Physicians, such as Solomon Kamson, and scientists who are members of the World Institute of Pain are able to share important information concerning research and clinical studies in order to help and learn from one another. Through the Institute, these medical professionals can attend international seminars and training sessions. Data and information is pooled from physicians around the world. This knowledge is then distributed to members, enabling them to learn more about the results of certain procedures, new treatments being developed, and the best practices in pain management techniques.

With the EPP Award, Dr. Sol Kamson and Spine Institute Northwest, have been singled out not only for the treatments they offer, but also for the practice as a whole. The organization reviews the ways in which patients are cared for by every member of the staff during a site visit.

“Gaining the cache of being able to display the World Institute of Pain’s red shield on our web site has inspired even greater confidence in our abilities from our many satisfied patients, while it also helps to reassure new patients that they will be receiving the quality of care they deserve.” Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, Director of the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, notes that the EPP Award is an honor to receive, as it points him and his team out to patients as being a top practice in the field of pain management.

Now that you are aware of the EPP Award bestowed upon Dr. Kamson, give us a call and schedule an appointment before you make the decision to undergo treatment for your back pain. You may send us your MRI or CT scan for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Kamson.

Stem Cell Therapy: Not Just for Athletes Anymore

golfer-swinging-club-backProfessional athletes were among the first to receive innovative stem cell therapies to treat problems related to sports injuries. Knee injuries, for example, can be hard to treat due to the fact that the body usually doesn’t repair torn cartilage and tissue on its own. With the help of stem cell therapy, physicians like Sol Kamson, MD, can offer a natural fix for damaged tissue. There may even come a day when knee replacement surgery will no longer be necessary.

Athletes and Stem Cell Therapy

When Peyton Manning sustained a serious neck injury in 2006, the former Colts and Broncos quarterback had to travel to Europe to receive treatment with stem cells, as this option was considered to be experimental in the United States. After his therapy with stem cells in Europe, Manning was able to play football for several more years and retired after last year’s big Super Bowl win. It’s now known that stem cell therapy is particularly encouraging for neck injuries because this delicate area can be hard to treat.

Today, stem cell therapy is widely in use when it comes to healing athletic injuries. This type of therapy is considered a medical treatment by the NFL, rather than known as an athletic enhancement. Many sports physicians and orthopedic surgeons, such as Solomon Kamson of Spine Institute Northwest, now recommend stem cell therapy for certain injuries that require regenerative treatment. Famed tennis player, Rafael Nadal, chose this type of therapy in 2014 for a back injury after having opted for stem cell therapy for a previous knee issue. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers went to Germany in 2011 for regenerative treatment on his knee.

Regenerative Medicine

Stem cell therapy uses material from your own body to fix and regenerate injured tissue without undergoing surgery. Sol Kamson, MD offers different options for regenerative therapies to heal injuries at the cellular level.

Stem cells have the capacity to change into the kind of cell they are placed next to. This helps the body repair tissue and regenerate new tissue, stimulate bone growth, and lessen the formation of scars. Dr. Sol Kamson uses stem cell therapy to relieve joint and/or back pain at the Spine Institute Northwest. The different types of stem cell therapy used by Dr. Kamson include:

  • BioD Regenerative Therapy
  • MatriStem A-Cell Injection
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
  • Amniotic Cell Matrix
  • Stem Cell Therapy

If you have severe joint pain, ligament or muscle damage, these types of therapies may be helpful to you when used along with surgery to promote healing. Used for shoulder injuries, acute accident trauma, mildly degenerative discs, and bulging discs, stem cell therapy may be right for you. It takes just half an hour to receive a regenerative treatment.

Contact Solomon Kamson MD at Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, for more information or to schedule a consultation.

Dr. Kamson Patient Testimonials, 2017 Update

Dr. Kamson, president of the Board of Directors For the Society For Advanced Spinal Intervention and founder of Spine Institute Northwest in Seattle, is an advocate of both minimally invasive surgery and regenerative medicine in treating spine conditions of the thoracic, lumbar, and cervical areas.

Minimally invasive surgery spine surgery (or less invasive spine surgery), as opposed to traditional open back surgery requires much smaller incisions since it relies on state-of-the-art imaging technologies and endoscopic tools, resulting in significantly lesser damage to surrounding muscle areas, lesser pain, faster recoveries, and shorter downtime for the patient. Another significant difference is that minimally invasive surgery can often cost a lot less than open surgery.

dr. kamson

Dr. Kamson consultation with a patient

Watch information on Dr. Kamson and the procedures they perform at Spine Institute Northwest in the YouTube video link below:

dr-kamson-youtube channel

Latest Patient Testimonials for Dr. Kamson

Read the success stories of some patients who were suffering from various forms of back pain in their individual testimonials below.

Chronic Pain Survival: Jeremiah Dawson

As a field training officer, Jeremiah relied on his ability to be active – running, performing training exercises, and keeping up with rookies. However, a bout with back pain while training turned out not to be just any ordinary pain. Painkillers did not help with Jeremiah’s pain at all, which led him to seek out alternative treatment. His search led him to Dr. Kamson and the Spine Institute where he had fusion performed on his cervical and lumbar spine. Grateful of the care he received from SINW, Jeremiah says:

“Thanks to Dr. Kamson and SINW, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

spinal fusion

Cervical Fusion Ends Michelle’s Suffering


Arthritic degeneration in Michele Roberts’ spine caused her chronic neck pain that prevented her from doing normal everyday things such as turning her neck and simply brushing her hair. Dr. Kamson operated on her cervical vertebrae and did a fusion to deal with her pain. “I came to see Dr. Kamson and he was so nice and confident. I had trust in him,” Michelle says. After becoming pain-free, she encourages other sufferers like her to have their back pain looked at instead of keeping on suffering.

Kathleen Cowitz-Laski: Lumbar Decompression

Kathleen, an active grandmother who owned her own house cleaning business was in very bad shape before having back surgery.  She needed a walker to move around and gradually her mobility worsened.

“My leg actually felt like concrete. I couldn’t lift it, and to get into the car was bad!”

A lumbar decompression procedure restored her mobility, so she now can tend to her business. What’s more, she can now play with her grandchildren – an activity she could not enjoy before her surgery. “I was surprised how soon I could walk after my surgery.”

Esteban Castaneda’s Chronic Pain Relieved

Desperation led Esteban to seek out an alternative form of treatment for his chronic back pain. No amount of painkillers or medication could address his back pain, which turned out to be caused by a birth defect – a pars defect. Dr. Kamson operated on his lumbar area to address Estaban’s pain.

Cameron Reyes Opted for Minimally Invasive Surgery for His Back Pain

Cameron, a 300-pound 6-foot former football and wrestling enthusiast as a young man, ended up with chronic back pain as an adult. His severe back pain left him depressed. Wanting to find a way to deal with his pain, Cameron researched traditional open back surgical procedures, but decided that the extended healing and downtime was not for him. With the minimally invasive procedure he received (a lumbar decompression), he was able to end a “horrible chapter in his life.”

“When Dr. Kamson told me that he could make me better…I wept like a kid.”

lumbar decompression patient

Cameron can now laugh when he recalls his successful operation.

Randall Huff, was another Spine Institute patient who underwent lumbar decompression for his back pain. After his back pain dispossessed Randall of the ability to do anything – he could not work and found it impossible to sleep – he decided to seek treatment.

Tim Watts: Ruptured Disc Treatment

Tim suffered from two ruptured spinal discs and was also enduring the painful effects of spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal) that put pressure on the nerves in the spine and spinal cord. After meeting the staff of Spine Institute Northwest and speaking with Dr. Kamson, Time says, ” I felt comfortable with what he had to say…I felt like this was the place I needed to go.” True enough, after his procedure and much to his surprise, the tension in his legs completely disappeared quickly after.

Dan Schmalzried: “It Almost Feels Like a Miracle.”

Dan faced opposition from from everyone when he decided to get surgical relief for his back pain. No one in his family believed that traditional surgery was the best solution for his pain, since he would still have to deal with more pain and an extended healing period afterwards. Even doctors and physicians he consulted were against him. No one believed he could get rid of his pain. His procedure at Spine Institute Northwest proved the naysayers wrong. A fusion and a repair of a herniated disc that was causing pain cured the numbness and the pain in his foot and back.

Watch his testimonial in the video below:

Mary Halabi: Herniated Disc Injury

Mary never thought that a routine weightlifting session would lead to something much worse than a pulled back or a sprained muscle. Self-diagnosing her pain to be nothing more than a pulled muscle was not a wise move for Mary, as her pain did not go away and only went from bad to worse. The pain got so bad that it caused Mary to miss class.

After a minimally invasive procedure relieved the pressure on her spine. Mary says, ” If you have pain, have it looked at professionally.”

Disabled From a Ruptured DIsc: Jim Perri

A problem with Jim’s L5 (lumbar vertebrae) caused him intense, debilitating back pain. Coupled with sciatica that caused more pain in his right leg, Jim’s pain level was, in his words, a twelve (12) on a scale of 1 to 10. All the pain he was experiencing meant that he effectively could do absolutely nothing but rest on the floor all day.

After his procedure at Spine Institute Northwest, his pain level dropped to a zero, for which he is extremely grateful.

Dwayne Burnell: Twice Treated for Two Different Spine Conditions

Dwayne has been a patient of Dr. Kamson twice. Once in 2003 for leg and back pain and again more than a decade later, for an unrelated condition in his spine. What brought Dwayne to the Spine Institute both times was the very thorough and analytical approach to diagnosis and care he received that ensured that he was well taken care of. Hear Dwayne relate how his experience in the YouTube video below:

Margo Witters of Spokane

Margo used to rely on her walker or her wheelchair to go anywhere. Not that she could really go anywhere since she was in chronic pain that made even the simplest of tasks impossible.

Her pain ended after coming in to the Spine Institute Northwest which treated her back through a lumbar fusion procedure.

“I felt really good right after the surgery…I can do things I haven’t done in four or five years.”

Dr. Kamson with Margo

Dr. Kamson (middle) with Margo and her husband after her successful procedure are Spine Institute Northwest.


Dr. Kamson’s Patient Reviews

Read through Doctor Kamson’s patient testimonials and watch their stories in the videos below.

“I’m back to doing things that I’ve always enjoyed. I couldn’t have worked 30 minutes before.”

– 89-year-old Irma Stennes, on the change her life underwent after Doctor Kamson helped fix the chronic pain in her back

“It is amazing. I’m back to all my normal activities. I can go and do sports.” 

– Jaselyn Lee, lumbar discectomy patient at Spine Institute Northwest, on the daily activities she can once again do after her procedure

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Stopping the Pain for Our Returning Troops!

Our troops are suffering significantly from chronic back pain once they have returned home. Although our veterans have had to tolerate the pain long enough to finish their tour, there is no need for continued suffering. Chronic pain has a way of infiltrating many aspects of their lives and Doctor Kamson would like to stop the pain.

Common back pain is usually a result of sitting too long or poor posture – civilians can remedy the pain by simple lifestyle changes. However, our troops suffer chronic pain caused from time on the battlefield. Though there are certainly troops who have desk jobs, those whose assignments involve carrying lots of equipment or wearing heavy protective gear for long periods of time are prone to wear-and-tear injuries. Veterans may also experience back pain as a result of injury, which can complicate the treatment process.

It’s unfortunate that returning troops may experience common problems caused from chronic back pain. For ‘anyone’ experiencing chronic pain, there is the risk of developing feelings of frustration, despair, and depression. This risk can be even greater for veterans, even those returning from non-combat missions. Back pain and back injuries can limit your ability to work. For those who have made serving their country their career, back pain can seriously inhibit successfully performing their duties.
We want our military to have easy access to medical help to stop back pain. However, this isn’t possible with the VA. Beginning in 1998, the Veterans’ Administration has used a protocol for handling veterans’ pain issues known as the National Pain Management Strategy. However, the lengthy wait times and inefficiencies of the VA system have been well documented. Returning troops are faced with bureaucratic hurdles and frustrating lags, especially for seeing specialists. Though efforts are being made to overhaul the VA, chronic pain can make each day feel like an eternity.

If you would like to stop chronic back pain, don’t wait! The Spine Institute Northwest offers a comprehensive array of treatment options, and we make every effort to make sure you don’t need to wait to come see us.