Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists - Dr. Pinakin R. Jethwa
Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists
3700 Route 33, Suite B
Neptune, NJ 07753
Atlantic NeuroSurgical Specialists
Managing Back Pain
Dr. Pinakin R. Jethwa is a native of Wayne, NJ. He completed medical school and neurosurgical residency training at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where he learned to treat the full spectrum of patients with brain and spine disease. He is board-certified in neurosurgery and is one of the few surgeons in New Jersey who performs both complex and minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr. Jethwa has published extensively on various topics within neurosurgery, including spine surgery, vascular diseases, brain tumors, and cost-effectiveness in neurosurgery.
What are some of the recent innovations in back surgery?
There have been notable advances in minimally invasive techniques for spine surgery, an advance that represents a tremendous improvement over traditional or “open” spine surgery. Now we can treat spinal disorders surgically with smaller incisions, less pain, and less blood loss, ultimately leading to better outcomes in the long run for the patient.
The other big improvement is in much better patient selection. Not every patient who comes into the office with back pain needs to have a spinal operation or spinal fusion done. Many can be managed non-operatively, and outcomes are better because we are able to identify patients for whom medical or non-surgical treatment is more appropriate.
Has there been a learning curve for treating back pain?
Only 15 to 20 years ago, almost everyone was getting a large back operation to fuse parts of the spine together. In those days, this was major surgery involving a lot of pain, blood loss, and long post-operative recovery times. Now we’ve learned that many patients will benefit just as much from less invasive surgery.
Depending on the source of the pain, some patients may only need a simpler operation to take pressure off the nerves. In other cases, there may be degenerated or slipping discs, or compression of the spinal cord, needing a more complex operation.
However, with minimally invasive techniques available to us today, we can do even more complex operations through smaller incisions with less blood loss and much shorter recovery periods.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a blanket term for pain that goes down the back of the legs. That pain can be due to compression of the sciatic nerve either at the level of the spine, at the level of the nerve root where the nerve exits the spine, or in the muscle itself.
Most commonly that pain is due to a problem in the lower spine, but it can be from somewhere else, which is why it is best to consult a surgeon who will identify the source of the pain and recommend the appropriate treatment. Rule #1 in neurosurgery is to try to locate where the problem is before deciding on treatment.
What are some considerations for patients when choosing a neurosurgeon?
Important considerations include competency, training, experience, and extent of follow up. It’s your body, your life, and you have a right to ask about a surgeon’s rate of complications for a procedure. No surgeon will have zero complications, but the main thing you want from your surgeon is honesty.
You should feel that that the doctor is upfront with you about what is wrong and what needs to be done, and what you can expect during the overall process from beginning to end.
What will happen in the hospital, who will I see, what kind of postoperative care, how long physical therapy, and what about follow up appointments?
Doctors who give you their time are the ones you want to stick with. You should be able to have all your questions answered. Free communication between doctor and patient is what makes for a relationship built on trust.