Make Pain a Thing of the Past – neck pain – Physician Partners of America

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Common Golfer Pain May be Unrelated to Discectomy and Fusion

Legendary golfer Tiger Woods’ neck pain is preventing him from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

He tweeted Monday “Unfortunately due to a neck strain that I’ve had for a few weeks, I’m forced to withdraw from the API. I’ve been receiving treatment, but it hasn’t improved enough to play.”

Woods, ranked 12th in the world, underwent four back procedures, including an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, and discectomy. He hasn’t missed a tournament – until now.

“Strain of the neck or cervical spine is a common musculoskeletal injury in the sports medicine world,” says Physician Partners of America pain management specialist Chad Gorman, M.D. “The patient can irritate or strain the muscles of the cervical spine causing tightness, limited range of motion and significant pain. For a professional athlete who uses precision and accuracy with his sport, having to perform while also dealing with significant neck pain can significantly hinder your performance.”

Occasionally, spinal fusions  can impact other parts of the spine in certain patients. In other patients, neck strain can be unrelated. It appears that is the case with Tiger Woods‘ neck pain: his fusion occurred in the lumbar, or lower, spine, and it is unlikely it impacted his neck.

Fortunately, in many cases, neck pain is easily treatable.

“Neck strains can be treated with oral anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, ice, massage and more advanced treatments like laser TENS units,” says Dr. Gorman, who practices in New Port Richey, Fla. and is a golfer himself.

According to, Woods competed on the PGA Tour 18 times last year, winning the Tour Championship for his 80th PGA Tour title. In addition, he played in the Ryder Cup as well as December’s Hero World Challenge. He has played three times so far this year without injury issues.

An anterior lumbar interbody fusion is performed in a minimally invasive way by Physician Partners of America spine surgeons and other specialists. It uses small incisions at the front of the body – the “anterior” – so that the large muscles of the back are not affected.

While Woods is not out of the woods yet, he reports the fusion and disc replacement worked. He tweeted, “My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for the Players.”

Woods, ranked 12th in the world, played a full schedule last year for the first time since 2015, which came after the first of what would turn out to be four back procedures. He contended at the last two majors, tying for sixth at The Open and finishing second at the PGA Championship.

It is uncertain whether Tiger Woods’ neck pain will sideline him from the Valspar Championship March 21-14, WGC-Dell Match Play Championship March 27 – March 31, and the Masters, which begins April 11.

Physician Partners of America treats neck and spine pain with a variety of modalities, from conservative to minimally invasive spine procedures. Find a PPOA specialist in Florida or Dallas-Fort Worth here.

Vertiflex procedure is minimally invasive and reversible

A new spinal stenosis treatment is allowing people to walk without pain for the first time in years – and without relying on opioids. Physician Partners of America now offers this minimally invasive procedure, known as the Superion Indirect Compression System, at its Texas Pain Relief Group and Florida Pain Relief Group locations.

This spinal stenosis treatment has even helped some patients leave their wheelchairs behind. That’s what recently happened for a patient of Christopher Creighton, M.D., Physician Partners of America’s pain management specialist in Richardson, Texas.  “It was truly remarkable,” Dr. Creighton says. “He came in in a wheelchair and walked out of the surgery center 100 percent pain-free.” Another patient who had hobbled for years had the same result.

Dr. Creighton calls the unique system “remarkable. I’ve never seen anything like it in my 26 years in practice.”

How does this spinal implant work?

Manufactured by Vertiflex, it is a one-inch titanium implant that slightly spreads the vertebrae, relieving pinched nerves. The implant “decompresses,” or widens, the spot that is compressing the nerve.  Once it is in place, the surgeon releases two “arms” on either side of the device to keep it secure.

The procedure takes about 30 minutes, causes little bleeding, and does not involve removal of bones or tissue. It is also completely reversible if the patient chooses a different procedure later on.

What is spinal stenosis?

Most often seen with age and wear and tear, stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. It is usually associated with the lumbar, or lower, spine. The narrowing process squeezes on nerve roots that exit the spine, causing pain.

Spinal stenosis symptoms

The most common way to tell if a patient needs lumbar spinal stenosis treatment is when bending over feels better than standing straight. The bending motion opens up the space between the vertebrae, temporarily relieving the nerve compression.

What is spinal decompression?

Since it’s not comfortable to live life bent over, decompression surgery might be an answer. “Surgery,” in the case of Physician Partners of America, is always minimally invasive. That means an incisions that is one inch or less. While there are several ways to treat painful back conditions, Vertiflex shows much promise.

“It’s much faster to perform, it has less operative risk, and the results are immediate,” Dr. Creighton says.

Vertiflex procedure – an alternative to spinal fusion

This decompression device can also help people whose spines have become unstable from disc degeneration. This process releases proteins in spinal fluid, which can irritate sciatic nerves. A traditional treatment is spinal fusion, in which two or more vertebrae are permanently joined together with hardware into a single structure. The goal is to stop movement between the two bones and prevent back pain.

Fusion usually has a three- to six-month recovery time. Compare that with the days of weeks of recovery after a Vertiflex implant.

Patients in a clinical trial reported 73 percent improvement in back function after two years and 81 percent improvement after five years. Overall patient satisfaction with the implant stood at 90 percent after five years.

Ask your PPOA physician about the Vertiflex procedure as a disc degeneration and spinal stenosis treatment.




We don’t realize how heavily we rely on our necks for everyday movements until we experience neck pain and immobility. Suddenly, even the smallest tasks such as reaching a high shelf or turning your head to check for oncoming traffic can seem excruciating.

For many people, acute neck pain in the cervical region of the spine will go away on its own with rest, physical therapy, and medication. However, chronic neck pain due to conditions like a pinched nerve, whiplash, or fibromyalgia may require a more targeted therapy such as nerve block treatment.

A nerve block treatment for neck pain may help to relieve:

  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion in the neck
  • Chronic headaches
  • Tingling in the shoulders and arms
  • Weakness in the upper extremities
  • Muscle spasms in the neck

How a Nerve Block in the Neck Works

A cervical nerve block may be used for both diagnostic and treatment purposes. A nerve block is performed by injecting a local anesthetic around a group of sympathetic nerves in the neck. The injection is guided by the use of a special X-ray called a fluoroscope to ensure accuracy and precision. The solution that is injected is usually a combination of an anesthetic and an anti-inflammatory steroid.

If the nerve block successfully eliminates or diminishes pain, your doctor may recommend repeating the nerve block injection about every other week. Local anesthetic and a calming sedative are usually all that is required for a nerve block in the neck. General anesthesia is not necessary and you can return home shortly after the procedure.

Neck Pain Treatment in Florida and Texas

Living with neck pain can affect everything you do, from working to exercising, to socializing. At Physician Partners of America, we know that it can feel as if your life has been put on hold when you’re struggling with neck pain and nothing is more frustrating than trying treatment after treatment without success.

We offer a comprehensive range of minimally invasive pain relief therapies including cervical sympathetic nerve blocks for patients in Florida and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This type of targeted pain relief therapy has helped many patients get their lives back and may prevent the need for an invasive neck surgery. Our expert team of pain management doctors and medical professionals has extensive experience performing cervical nerve blocks.

Find out if a nerve block for neck pain is the right treatment option for you by scheduling an appointment at one of our pain relief clinics. We offer convenient locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Euless, Grapevine, Hurst, and Irving.

Spinal Cord Stimulation: For patients who suffer from chronic pain in their limbs, neck and trunk, the options for pain relief can be limited. For some, pain medication works. But for others the effect is negligible and more aggressive treatment is required.

Among those treatment options that are available is what’s called Spinal Cord Stimulation.

“The spinal cord stimulator is an invasive implantable device for the treatment of chronic intractable pain in the limbs, neck Spinal Cord Stimulation,” said Dr. Jorge Leal, a Tampa pain specialist with Florida Pain Relief Group.

The Spinal Cord Stimulator process, a form of neurostimulation, is done by applying an electrical current to the source of pain creating a tranquil sensation that blocks the brain’s ability to sense perceived pain.

“I tell the patients that it works by ‘fooling’ the brain into believing that there is no pain,” Dr. Leal said. “First, a trial is performed and if successful, a permanent unit is implanted.”

This procedure is one that is commonly done for patients suffering from failed back surgery or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

“It is a last resort effort designed to treat pain that has not responded to conventional therapies, nerve blocks, etc. It is commonly described as a ‘pacemaker’ to the spinal cord,” Dr. Leal said.

In order to qualify for the procedure, a patient must first undergo a psychological evaluation.

Our Tampa pain specialists at Tampa pain relief center locations in East Tampa, North Tampa, and Carrollwood are experienced with the effective use of spinal cord stimulation to treat chronic pain. Schedule an appointment today.