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TOSH Offers Unique, New Rapid Assessment Center for Utahns With Back & Neck Pain

Speeds diagnosis, recovery & relief for patients who often have to wait to see a specialist

Eight out of ten people will have back pain at some point in their lifetime, but getting an appointment to see a specialist can take weeks, if not months.

Now, there's a first of it's kind back and neck rapid assessment clinic at TOSH-The Orthopedic Specialty Center in Murray that acts like an InstaCare for back and neck pain patient. The center will see most patients within one day.

"The idea is to get people in immediately, diagnose their pain and get them the help they need in less time," says Kent Dudley, a physical therapist at the TOSH Back & Neck Center.

A recent poll found 40 percent of Utahns had no idea where to go when their back isn't feeling well, and bed rest is often a bad idea. "Doing nothing sometimes does not help, laying in bed is sometimes the worst thing you can do for a back problem," says Dudley.

Staffed by a nurse practitioner, a physical therapist and an educational psychologist, the TOSH Back & Neck Center uses a multi-faceted approach to evaluate and treat patients. Rapid, triage-style assessments help determine the source of pain, and patients can then immediately transition to the appropriate spine care specialist who establishes a plan for pain management through medication, physical therapy and education. Because the center is located within TOSH, patients are able to obtain same-day or next-day access to the facility's state-of-the-art diagnostic services, including X-ray, MRI and CT scanners.

The TOSH Back & Neck Center also provides an educational psychologist because some patients who come in with back problems are also suffering from anxiety and depression, which can increase the severity of pain.

In Utah, back pain is the top cause of disability for people under 45, and doctors say most people with back and neck pains often don't need a lot of treatment, to feel a lot better.

"The fact is many patients really don't need surgery. Most need physical therapy and self care. They need to learn how to better manage their lifestyle so they don't keep injuring their back," says Marla Birch, nursing administrator at TOSH.

Experts say the key is diagnosis, and for those who do need surgery, and time is important because the longer spine problems go untreated, the more likely permanent damage will occur.

Major problems are diagnosed at the TOSH Back & Neck Center and then patients are then passed onto specialists near their home who can help. If surgery is not necessary patients find out quickly what it is. "We attempt to get patients into same day or next day imaging services and or the physical therapy you need the same day or next day," says Dudley.

"I am really excited to be a part of this team," says Cheryl Scholes, nurse practitioner with the TOSH Back & Neck Center. "We have great relationships with physical therapy departments, sports medicine doctors and orthopedic specialists throughout the valley and that allows us to get people to the right healthcare provider sooner."

For more information, check out Intermountain Healthcare's TOSH department

Article Reviewed: July 18, 2012
Copyright © 2014 Healthy Magazine

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