Spine Center

Thank you for choosing The Iowa Clinic Spine Center. We offer a coordinated, comprehensive treatment option for people with back pain. We have assembled a multi-disciplinary team of board certified physicians, surgeons and healthcare providers to provide your care.

All of our Spine Center specialists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and degenerative conditions of the musculoskeletal system. Our goal is to provide the most advanced treatments available combined with an exceptional patient experience that is unmatched by any practice in Central Iowa.

Stories

Physical Therapy Saves Career

Lisa Carter had just opened her own personal training company when back pain threatened her career. "It wasn't just a little muscle pull," says Lisa Carter, 45, recalling the pain that kept her from doing her job just over a year ago. Carter ultimately learned that she had a bilateral fracture on her vertebrae, a herniated disc, and sciatic nerve issues. Before that, however, "I had seen another doctor and had physical therapy at another facility,…
Read More

Patient Information

Coordinated Care

The Iowa Clinic Spine Center offers a coordinated, comprehensive treatment option for people with back and neck pain. Our team of experts is comprised of physicians, surgeons and healthcare providers from the following specialties:

All of our Spine Center specialists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and degenerative conditions of the musculoskeletal system. Our goal is to provide the most advanced treatments available combined with an exceptional patient experience that is unmatched by any practice in Central Iowa.

Based on our own experience, we know back and neck pain patients are often presented with fragmented and ineffective approaches to treatment. Unfortunately, this can result in patients going from one doctor to another with a lack of coordination. We want to streamline care and that’s why we developed The Iowa Clinic Spine Center. We believe our model of care will provide patients, physicians, employers and insurance companies a better option.

Medical Testing

CT SCAN

CT scan (.pdf)

A CT scan is a noninvasive diagnostic test that uses x-rays and a computer to create images of the body. It allows your doctor to view your spine or brain in slices, as if it were sliced layer-by-layer and a picture taken of each slice. This test can help diagnose tumors, hemorrhages, head injuries, and bone abnormalities.

DISCOGRAM

Discogram (.pdf)

Discogram is an invasive diagnostic test that uses x-rays to examine the intervertebral discs of your spine. A special dye is injected into the injured disc or series of discs. The dye makes the disc visible on a fluoroscope monitor and x-ray film. Discograms are used to locate precisely which discs are damaged and are causing back pain.

ELECTROMYOGRAPHY EMG

Electromyography EMG (.pdf)

Electromyography (EMG), often done along with a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) study, measures your muscle and nerve electrical activity. Small needles, or electrodes, are placed in your muscles, and the results are recorded on a special machine. These tests are used to determine if a person’s muscle weakness is from nerve damage or some other muscle condition.

LUMBAR PUNCTURE, SPINAL TAP

Lumbar puncture, spinal tap (.pdf)

A lumbar puncture (LP), also called a spinal tap, is an invasive outpatient procedure used to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the subarachnoid space in the spine. (This test is similar to a blood test, in which a needle is inserted into an artery to collect blood for testing.)

MYELOGRAM

Myelogram (.pdf)

A myelogram is an invasive diagnostic test that uses x-rays to examine the spinal canal. A special dye is injected into the spinal canal through a hollow needle. An x-ray fluoroscope then records the images formed by the dye. Myelograms can show conditions affecting the spinal cord and nerves within the spinal canal.

MRI MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING

MRI magnetic resonance imaging (.pdf)

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a noninvasive diagnostic test that takes detailed images of the soft tissues of the body. Unlike X-rays or CT, images are created by using a magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer. It allows your doctor to view your spine or brain in slices, as if it were sliced layer-by-layer and a picture taken of each slice. This test can help diagnose tumors, strokes, and disc herniations.

X-RAY (ROENTGENOGRAM)

X-ray (roentgenogram) (.pdf)

An X-ray is a diagnostic test that uses radiation waves, called x-rays, to take pictures of your body tissues.

Patient Education

ANATOMY OF THE SPINE

Anatomy of the Spine (.pdf)

The spine is made of 33 individual bones stacked one on top of the other. Ligaments and muscles connect the bones together and keep them aligned. The spinal column provides the main support for your body, allowing you to stand upright, bend, and twist. Protected deep inside the bones, the spinal cord connects your body to the brain, allowing movement of your arms and legs. Strong muscles and bones, flexible tendons and ligaments, and sensitive nerves contribute to a healthy spine.

ANTERIOR CERVICAL DISCECTOMY AND FUSION (ACDF)

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) (.pdf)

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a surgery to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the cervical (neck) spine. The incision is made in the front of the spine, through the throat area. After the disc is removed, a bone graft is inserted to fuse together the vertebrae above and below the disc space. Your doctor may recommend a discectomy if physical therapy or medications fail to relieve your neck or arm pain caused by compressed spinal nerves. Patients typically go home the same day; recovery time takes 4 weeks.

BACK PAIN

Back pain (.pdf)

Back pain results when the spine is stressed by injury, poor posture, disease, wear and tear, or poor body mechanics. Most people will suffer from back pain at some point in their life. Acute low back pain is abrupt, intense pain that subsides after a period of days or weeks. It typically resolves with rest, exercise, and other self-care measures. Some people suffer from chronic pain that continues despite treatment.

BRACES AND ORTHOTICS

Braces and Orthotics (.pdf)

Your doctor may prescribe a neck or back brace for you to wear after a spinal injury or surgery. A brace does three things: immobilizes your spine during healing; stabilizes injured areas; controls pain by restricting movement.

CHIROPRACTIC CARE

Chiropractic Care (.pdf)

Chiropractic medicine aims to improve health by restoring structure and function to the spine and other joints. Stress, accidents, overexertion, or other injuries may cause minor displacement (subluxation) of the spinal vertebra. When a vertebra is displaced or an extremity is affected, muscle tension or irritation to the spinal nerves can result, causing pain (e.g., neck, back, headache, whiplash) and impairing overall health.

DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE

Degenerative disc disease (.pdf)

Degenerative disc disease is a condition caused by the breakdown of your spinal discs. As you age, your spine begins to show signs of wear and tear as your discs dry out and shrink. These age-related changes can lead to arthritis, disc herniation, or spinal stenosis, which can put pressure on your spinal cord and nerves and may cause back pain. Physical therapy, self-care, pain medication, and spinal injections are used first to control the symptoms. Surgery is an option if the pain is chronic.

EPIDURAL STEROID INJECTION (ESI

Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI (.pdf)

An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a minimally invasive procedure that can help relieve neck, arm, back, and leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves. ESI may be performed to relieve pain caused by spinal stenosis, spondylolysis, or disc herniation. Medicines are delivered to the spinal nerve through the epidural space, the area between the protective covering of the spinal cord and vertebrae. The effects of ESI tend to be temporary. Pain relief may last for several days or even years.

EXERCISE FOR A HEALTHY BACK

Exercise for a Healthy Back (.pdf)

Exercise is a vital part of improving and maintaining normal, comfortable back function. It is important to exercise regularly so you can maintain your fitness level. Regular exercise is important to prevent back pain and injury. A program of strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercises will improve your overall fitness level. Research has shown that people who are physically fit are more resistant to back injuries and pain, and recover quicker when they do have injuries, than those who are less physically fit.

CORE EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN THE SPINE

Core Exercises to Strengthen the Spine (.pdf)

Just as the stays support the mast and the cables support the bridge, your core muscles support your spine. The muscles in your abdomen and back – which we call the “core” – are central to your everyday spine health. They are at the heart of any fitness regimen designed to strengthen a healthy or ailing back. Just as you protect your heart through cardiovascular exercises, you will benefit from strengthening your back through core exercises.

FACET INJECTION

Facet Injection (.pdf)

A facet injection is a minimally invasive procedure that can temporarily relieve neck or back pain caused by inflamed facet joints. The cause of facet joint pain (arthritis, injury, degeneration) is not well understood and can be similar in nature to disc pain. The procedure has two purposes. First, it can be used as a diagnostic test to see if the pain is actually coming from your facet joints. Second, it can be used as a treatment to relieve inflammation and pain caused by various spine conditions. The effects of facet injections tend to be temporary – providing relief for several days or even years.

HERNIATED CERVICAL DISC

Herniated cervical disc (.pdf)

A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of a disc ruptures through a weak area in the tough outer wall. Neck or arm pain, numbness or tingling may result when the disc material touches or compresses a spinal nerve. Treatment with rest, pain medication, spinal injections, and physical therapy is the first step to recovery. Most people improve in 6 weeks and return to normal activity. If symptoms continue, surgery to remove a portion of the disc and any bone spurs may be recommended.

HERNIATED LUMBAR DISC

Herniated lumbar disc (.pdf)

A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of a disc ruptures through a weak area in the tough outer wall. Back or leg pain, numbness or tingling may result when the disc material touches or compresses a spinal nerve. Treatment with rest, pain medication, spinal injections, and physical therapy is the first step to recovery. Most people improve in 6 weeks and return to normal activity. If symptoms continue, surgery to remove a portion of the disc and any bone spurs may be recommended.

INTRATHECAL DRUG PUMP

Intrathecal drug pump (.pdf)

Intrathecal drug delivery, or “pain pump,” is a method of giving medication directly to your spinal cord. The system uses a small pump that is surgically placed under the skin of your abdomen and delivers medication through a catheter to the area around your spinal cord – similar to an epidural that women may have during childbirth. Because the medication is delivered directly to the spinal cord, your symptoms can be controlled with a much smaller dose than is needed with oral medication.

NECK PAIN

Neck pain (.pdf)

Neck pain results when the spine is stressed by injury, poor posture, disease, wear and tear, or poor body mechanics. Acute neck pain is abrupt, intense pain that subsides after a period of days or weeks. It can also radiate to the head, shoulders, arms, or hands. It typically resolves with rest, exercise, and other self-care measures. Some people suffer from chronic pain that continues despite treatment.

PAIN MANAGEMENT

Pain management (.pdf)

Acute pain starts suddenly and improves over time with healing. Chronic pain persists and is often present in ongoing conditions such as arthritis or cancer. Pain management is an integrated approach to making pain tolerable by learning physical, emotional, intellectual and social skills. This may include exercise, physical therapy, medication, holistic therapies, and counseling. With these techniques, you stay in control of your health.

PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (.pdf)

Physiatry, also called physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), is a medical specialty that primarily uses physical means to help in diagnosis, healing, and rehabilitation. Physiatrists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with chronic illness (e.g., stroke) or injury (e.g., spinal cord, brain), acute and chronic pain, and musculoskeletal injuries (e.g., sports-, work-related). Many physiatrists specialize in the treatment of back pain.

PHYSICAL THERAPY

Physical therapy (.pdf)

The principles of physical therapy have been part of healing arts since recorded time. Physical therapy is an important part of a nonsurgical approach to restore, maintain, and promote overall health. Working with a doctor, a physical therapist (PT) will help patients who have suffered an accident, injury, or disease, or those recovering from surgery.

POSTERIOR LUMBAR DISCECTOMY

Posterior lumbar discectomy (.pdf)

Lumbar discectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove a herniated or degenerative disc in the lower spine. The surgeon approaches the spine from posterior, through the back muscles. Your doctor may recommend a discectomy if physical therapy or medication fail to relieve leg or back pain that is caused by inflamed and compressed spinal nerves. Discectomy may also be recommended if you have signs of nerve damage, such as weakness or loss of feeling in your legs. The surgery can be performed in an open or minimally invasive technique.

POSTURE FOR A HEALTHY BACK

Posture for a Healthy Back (.pdf)

Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities.

 

PREPARING FOR LUMBAR SPINAL FUSION

Preparing for lumbar spinal fusion (.pdf)

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure performed to permanently join together one or more bones of the spine. Fusing bones together can prevent painful motion and provide stability. An unstable spine can result from an injury, disease, or the natural aging process. When these changes allow abnormal movement of the vertebrae to rub against one another, back, leg, or arm pain may result. Fusing the vertebrae stabilizes and aligns the spine, maintains the normal disc space between the vertebrae, and prevents further damage to your spinal nerves and cord.

SCIATICA

Sciatica (.pdf)

Sciatica describes pain that begins in the lower back, radiating into the buttock and down the back of one leg. Pain is often caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve from a herniated disc, bone spurs or muscle strain. You play an important role in the prevention, treatment, and recovery of sciatic pain. Sciatica pain typically improves with rest, exercise, and other self-care measures. Chronic pain that continues despite treatment may be helped with surgery to relieve the underlying cause.

SELF CARE FOR NECK & BACK PAIN

Self care for neck & back pain (.pdf)

Eight out of 10 people will suffer from back or neck pain at some point in their life. Acute pain is abrupt, intense pain that subsides after a period of days or weeks. However, some people continue to suffer from pain that continues despite nonsurgical or surgical treatment methods. This long-term pain is called chronic pain.

SPINAL CORD STIMULATION

Spinal cord stimulation (.pdf)

Spinal cord stimulation uses low voltage stimulation of the spinal nerves to block the feeling of pain. It helps you to better manage your pain and potentially decrease the amount of pain medication. It may be an option if you have long-term (chronic) leg or arm pain, and have not found relief through traditional methods. A small battery-powered generator implanted in the body transmits an electrical current to your spinal cord. The result is a tingling sensation instead of pain.

SPINAL DECOMPRESSION, LAMINECTOMY

Spinal decompression, Laminectomy (.pdf)

Narrowing of the spinal canal, a condition called spinal stenosis can cause chronic pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in your arms or legs. The condition primarily afflicts elderly people and is caused by degenerative changes that result in enlargement of the facet joints and thickening of the ligaments. Constriction of the spinal cord and nerves may be effectively relieved with a spinal decompression procedure if your symptoms have not improved with physical therapy or medications. This surgery requires a hospital stay from 1 to 3 days and recovery takes between 4 to 6 weeks.

SPINAL FRACTURES

Spinal fractures (.pdf)

A fracture or dislocation of a vertebra can cause bone fragments to pinch and damage the spinal nerves or spinal cord. Most spinal fractures occur from car accidents, falls, gunshot, or sports. Injuries can range from relatively mild ligament and muscle strains, to fractures and dislocations of the bony vertebrae, to debilitating spinal cord damage. Depending on how severe your injury is, you may experience pain, difficulty walking, or be unable to move your arms or legs (paralysis). Many fractures heal with conservative treatment; however severe fractures may require surgery to realign the bones.

SPINAL STENOSIS

Spinal stenosis (.pdf)

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of your spinal canal and nerve root canal along with the enlargement of your facet joints. Most commonly it is caused by osteoarthritis and your body’s natural aging process. As the spinal canal narrows, there is less room for your nerves to branch out and move freely. As a result, they may become swollen and inflamed, which can cause pain, cramping, numbness or weakness in your legs, back, neck, or arms. Mild to moderate symptoms can be relieved with medications, physical therapy and spinal injections. Severe symptoms may require surgery.

SPONDYLOLYSIS AND SPONDYLOLISTHESIS

Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis (.pdf)

Spondylolysis (spon-dee-low-lye-sis) and spondylolisthesis (spon-dee-low-lis-thee-sis) are conditions that affect the moveable joints of the spine that help keep the vertebrae aligned one on top of the other. Spondylolysis is actually a weakness or stress fracture in one of the facet joints. This weakness can cause the vertebrae to slip forward out of their normal position, a condition called spondylolisthesis. Treatment options include physical therapy to strengthen the muscles surrounding the area. Sometimes the patient is placed in a brace. In severe cases, surgery is also an option.

VERTEBROPLASTY & KYPHOPLASTY

Vertebroplasty & kyphoplasty (.pdf)

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures performed to treat vertebral compression fractures (VCF) of the spine. These fractures, which can be painful and limit spine mobility, are commonly caused by osteoporosis, spinal tumors, and traumatic injury. Traditional treatments of bed rest, pain medication, and braces are slow to relieve the pain. By injecting bone cement into the fractured bone and restoring the vertebra height, these procedures offer patients faster recovery and reduce the risk of future fractures in the treated bone.

WHO TREATS SPINE PROBLEMS?

Who treats spine problems? (.pdf)

Of the many types of specialists who treat spine problems, each has specific skills and plays an important role in patient care. Some spine specialists are physicians and some are non-physicians. The right specialist(s) to treat your condition depends on the type and severity of the problem. Spine problems can arise from soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments), nerves, or bone.

Referring Physicians

At The Iowa Clinic Spine Center, we want to make the referral process as convenient and efficient as possible.

  1.  Click here to print our referral form and fax it to 515-875-9889
  2.  Call our office at 515-875-9888

When you make a referral to The Iowa Clinic Spine Center, our scheduling coordinator will match your patient’s specific need with the appropriate specialist.

IMPORTANT information:

  • Patients can be sent without prior imaging.
  • We will keep you informed during the care process. You can expect a letter from our team updating you on your patients diagnosis and treatment plan after their initial assessment and evaluation.

Videos

Services & Treatments

Pain relief for the patient will be our first priority. This will be attempted through conservative methods such as injections, oral medications and physical therapy. If this isn’t working, surgery may be recommended. Spinal surgery is effective in managing and often resolving a number of spinal conditions.

NON-SURGICAL OPTIONS:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Injection Therapy
  • Epidural Injections
  • Facet Joint Injections
  • Sacroiliac Joint Injections
  • Greater Occipital Nerve Blocks
  • Cervical and Lumbar Facet Blocks
  • Transforaminal and Sympathetic Nerve Blocks
  • Radio Frequency Ablations
  • Medication
  • Braces and Orthotics

SURGICAL TREATMENT OPTIONS:

  • Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
  • Lumbar Laminectomy
  • Lumbar Discectomy
  • Posterior Lumbar Fusion
  • Anterior Cervical Fusion
  • Posterior Cervical Laminectomy
  • Posterior Cervical Fusion
  • Spinal Cord Stimulators
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery
  • X-Stop®

SPINE DIAGNOSTIC TESTING:

  • Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Test
  • Radiology – MRI, CT, X-Ray, Myelogram, PET
  • Discogram

Patient Stories

Physical Therapy Saves Career

Lisa Carter had just opened her own personal training company when back pain threatened her career. "It wasn't just a little muscle pull," says Lisa Carter, 45, recalling the pain that kept her from doing her job just over a year ago. Carter ultimately learned that she had a bilateral fracture on her vertebrae, a herniated disc, and sciatic nerve issues. Before that, however, "I had seen another doctor and had physical therapy at another facility,…
Read More

Contact

Main Locations

Methodist Medical Center – Plaza II

(515) 875-9888
1215 Pleasant Street, Suite 608
Des Moines, IA 50309

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The Iowa Clinic West Des Moines Campus

(515) 875-9888
5950 University Avenue
West Des Moines, IA 50266

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