Efforts improve to ease back pain

MIAMI, Fla. – It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of adults will experience back or neck pain at some point in their lives.

Non-invasive treatments can ease the discomfort for many, but for others, the agony never goes away.

Fortunately, newer approaches to surgery are improving the chances of a positive outcome.

The simple act of picking up his baby boy was once an impossibility for Lucas DeCastro.

Months before his son Ottis was born, DeCastro was suddenly stricken with debilitating back pain that seemingly came out of nowhere.

“One day I woke up with severe pain like astronomical pain. (I) went to urgent care, they gave me two shots and I thought that was it and then it just came back and was getting worse and worse to the point where I basically just lived off the floor,” he said.

When physical therapy failed to help, DeCastro ultimately found his way to spine surgeon Dr. Georgiy Brusovanik.

Brusovanik went beyond imaging to help pinpoint the source of the problem.

“Essentially if you take a drop of lidocaine, which is a numbing medication, and you inject that right behind the disc you think is causing one’s pain, if indeed that disc is causing one’s pain, the moment the medication hits the back of the disc, the pain will be gone,” said Brusovanik.

While the pain will return as the anesthetic wears off, Brusonovik said the process eliminates any uncertainty which, in turn, reduces the risk of needing to repeat a procedure.

“So I never have concerns going into surgery that the patient will wake up with the same pain because I definitely insist that patients who’ve even already had injections that they have one more and that verification lets me sleep well at night before surgery,” he said.

Once the problem area was properly identified, DeCastro underwent surgery and experienced immediate relief.

“It was night and day. So one day excruciating pain, the next day no pain. One day I can’t walk the next day I can walk again. I’m glad that I chose it because I’m able to live my life again,” he said.

While many patients experience improved mobility and function within weeks of surgery, full recovery can take several months to a year.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.