Published Articles

Alaska Journal of Commerce

July 26, 2004

Just one shot was all it took - the right medication in the right place - and the patient from Bethel, who had suffered increasing back and leg pain for more than a year, walked out pain free.

It's all in a day's work for physicians at the Alaska Spine Institute, a one-stop medical shop for patients with spinal pain and injuries. The institute opened a new office June 7 on the campus of Alaska Pacific University.

Athletes Not Only Ones to Suffer From Tennis Elbow

John DeCarlo Alaska Spine Institute

Elbow pain is one of the most common injuries doctors and, ultimately, physical therapists see, whether in Anchorage or in Austin. While there are several reasons for elbow pain, lateral epicondylitis – or what is commonly known as tennis elbow – is one of the more frequent causes. Tennis elbow is characterized by a pain on the outside of the elbow that feels worse when objects are grasped or while cocking back the wrist.

Alaska Spine Institute Opens on APU Campus

A new center staffed with doctors who offer physical therapy and treat back problems has opened on the Alaska Pacific University campus at 3801 University Lake Drive.

The three-story, 60,000 square foot building will offer care for spine and sports injuries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, imaging technology and pain management, according to a news release about the new center. The center houses a new magnetic resonance imaging tool that can return better information at a faster speed, the release said.

New Technologies Benefit Those Who Suffer From Low Back Pain

Michel L. Gevaert, MD, Alaska Spine Institute

Lower back pain can be traced back to the earliest humans. Walking upright proved crucial in human evolution, but at what cost? The spine, specifically the lumbar region (or lower back), suddenly had to support all of the upper body weight. The arms and hands -- now free to reach, throw, lift and pull -- put the lower back in constant danger of strain, sprain and over-exertion.

Pacemakers for Pain

Dr. Robert Valentz, Alaska Spine Institute

Pain that lasts for longer than six months is generally defined as chronic pain. For those suffering from chronic back or limb pain, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may provide new hope.

Spinal Stenosis As A Cause of Low Back and Lower Extremity Pain

J. Michael James, M.D. and Shawna Hill Wilson, ANP-C, Alaska Spine Institute

Spinal stenosis is the leading cause of back pain and lower extremity pain in people over the age of 60. It usually starts gradually for no apparent reason, without any trauma or specific injury, and worsens over time. Spinal stenosis is characterized by the symptoms of low back pain, leg pain, and leg numbness. These symptoms may occur together or separately and are aggravated with activity, specifically, standing and walking. In fact, many times people affected by spinal stenosis have difficulty walking for even a few blocks.

Rotator Cuff Injury: A Common Cause of Shoulder Pain

Shawn P. Johnston, MD, Alaska Spine Institute

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that attach the upper arm bone (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). These muscles help guide the shoulder through many motions and provide dynamic stability to the shoulder joint.

Injury can occur with repetitive overhead activities (such as are common among athletes and workers) as well as traumatic events such as falling on an outstretched arm.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - CRPS

Robert F. Valentz, MD, Alaska Spine Institute

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a syndrome that typically affects the hands or feet and is characterized by continuous pain, changes in skin temperature and increased or decreased sweating. This syndrome is often misdiagnosed initially because of its presentation. That’s unfortunate because early in the disease is the only time that its progression can effectively be halted. As the syndrome progresses, it becomes progressively more difficult to treat.

Easing the Pain from Whiplash

Dr. Larry Levine, Alaska Spine Institute

When you hear the word whiplash, most people immediately think of a car accident. While a large percentage of those suffering from whiplash do get it from a car accident, it’s also a common sports injury and can occur when someone receives a blow to the head, slips or falls, or is hit by a falling object.