Maine Spine & Nerve Institute - The Back and Neck Surgery Alternative
In the Portland area, patients seeking back pain and neuropathy relief have many healthcare options.
And from clinic to clinic, they're likely to encounter a diverse range of recommendations. For the same set of spine and nerve symptoms, some providers may prescribe pain medication, and others may recommend back or neck surgery. Lately, though, more and more providers are recommending that patients start with a non-invasive treatment approach.
At Maine Spine & Nerve Institute, we specialize in that approach.
We begin by diagnosing the origin of your pain, and then proceed to correct the underlying condition through non-surgical spinal decompression therapy.
After a course of treatment here, many of our patients are able to avoid surgery and expensive, addictive prescriptions. And we've even been able to achieve success in patients who have gone through failed back surgery.
If you're struggling with spine and nerve symptoms, we'd love to see if we could help. The initial consultation is free, and you can request your appointment by filling out the form above on this page.
Health Care Articles
Imagine foot pain caused by peripheral neuropathy that’s so severe, so relentless, and so resistant to pharmaceutical nerve pain treatments that amputation seems a reasonable option.
“The pain can be so debilitating that I’ve had patients tell me they can’t even stand the pressure of the sheets on their feet,” says Dr. Douglas VanderPloeg, founder of Maine Spine & Nerve Institute. “They can’t sleep. They can’t walk well either.”
Severe pain isn’t the only symptom. Neuropathy can also prompt:
- Burning sensation
- Sharp, stabbing pain
- Dull aches
- Tingling or prickling
What exactly is peripheral neuropathy?
The muscles, skin and internal organs are connected to the brain and spinal cord by an intricate network of peripheral nerves. Peripheral neuropathy, then, is a disease or disorder of those nerves, which are responsible for carrying messages to and from the brain.
“Periphery refers to ‘away from the heart,’ ” says Dr. VanderPloeg. “So symptoms are typically more pronounced in the feet, which are the farthest from the heart.”
Therefore, balance can be significantly affected, with estimates that people with peripheral neuropathy are 15 times more likely to fall.
About 40 percent of people with diabetes also have peripheral neuropathy, although there are other causes:
- Chemotherapy is caustic to nerves – and not just those in the feet
- Environmental toxins
- Alcohol or drug abuse, including certain prescription medications
- Genetic predisposition
“And sometimes we just don’t know,” says Dr. VanderPloeg.
Nerve pain treatments historically have encompassed only medications, including methadone, and many with intolerable side effects.
“When I hear a patient say, ‘I am not a pill-taker,’ I smile and identify with them. That has always been my philosophy,” says Dr. VanderPloeg. “Our treatment is radically different than treating the symptoms with medications that target symptoms alone, most of which work in the spinal cord itself. The treatment we use works locally on the vascular and nerve components directly.”
In 2011, electrotherapy for neuropathy was cleared by the FDA – although it has been safely and effectively used in other countries for more than 20 years.
With mid-frequency electro-analgesic treatment, a device is placed on the leg that emits rapid pulses, which, among other effects, stimulates the nerves, muscle and small-nerve regeneration, as well as inhibits many pain chemicals.
Hand-in-hand, the Class IV therapeutic laser is also used to help form new blood vessels, improve lymphatic drainage and increase circulation, among other benefits.
“The bottom line is the Class IV laser and electro-analgesic stimulation complement each other in addressing the constellation of components that play a role in generating peripheral neuropathy symptoms,” says Dr. VanderPloeg.
During treatment, many patients describe experiencing gentle vibrations that are not unpleasant and sometimes even relaxing.
Additionally, because of the enzymes and nutrients that can be depleted by specific medications Dr. VanderPloeg says he also includes high-quality nutritional supplementation. “Depletion of certain nutrients can have an adverse effect on peripheral neuropathy symptoms so we make sure we address these deficits thereby maximizing recovery”.
At Maine Spine & Nerve Institute, the initial goal is to reduce the pain by 50 percent over the course of eight or nine weeks.
“That can change lives dramatically,” he says.