Your first visit

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Find out more information about what our process is for diagnosis and what you can expect from your first visit to our clinic.

Please remember the following for your first visit: All patients must sign forms for the authorization for treatment, release of information and authorization to file insurance.
Treatment begins with conservative therapy Each Patient at Great River Spine Clinic goes through individualized diagnostics to pinpoint his or her specific problem. 1. The first thing we do is obtain a history and talk to the patient about their health, their pain and treatments so far, any surgical history, and even family medical history. 2. Then we perform a physical examination, including neurological and musculoskeletal examinations. We don’t look at an MRI until we’ve finished the examinations. By doing this, we make sure that any other possible causes of the complaint have been addressed.

Examinations lead to a diagnosis, which forms the basis for the patient’s treatment plan. Treatment choices range from conservative noninvasive procedures to surgery. Dr. Foster and the Great River Spine Clinic team usually prefer a conservative approach. “The first choice is to do nothing,” Dr. Foster said. “Usually the patient wants pain relief, so we present conservative care. Physical therapy is the mainstay of this.”

“To get patients back to their daily activities with less pain, we teach them exercises and educate them so they can protect themselves from further injuries,” said Robb Gardner, director of Rehabilitation Services at Great River Medical Center.

“If they’re still having problems, then sometimes we talk about injections,” Dr. Foster said.

“We do many pain-management procedures” epidural steroid injections, disk injections, nerve-root injections “depending on the symptoms,” said Joseph Marshall, M. D., an interventional radiologist at Great River Medical Center. “We also do a procedure called kyphoplasty.”

“Kyphoplasty is a procedure for people with painful compression fractures of the spine “often caused by Osteoporosis,” said interventional radiologist Jay Radhakrishnan, M. D.

“Guided by real-time X-ray images provided by the fluoroscope, we insert a small balloon into the vertebra and blow it up to make a cavity. Then we inject a cement to fill the cavity. It hardens to fix the fracture and relieve the pain.”

But injections may not provide a permanent solution. Dr. Foster will then look at surgical options.