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What To Do If Your Neck Surgery Is Cancelled

Dr. Deitch and Dr. Chris Centeno discuss what to do when your neck surgery is cancelled due to Covid-19, why it’s important, and what that means for you. 



Dr. Jason Deitch

Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of You’ve Got the Power – because you do. I’m Dr. Jason Deitch with Dr. Chris Centeno. Dr. Centeno is the founder of the Regenex network, an international network of regenerative orthopedists. These are the most highly trained doctors to help people with orthopedic conditions heal themselves naturally. He’s also the Medical Director of the Centeno-Schultz Clinic in Colorado.

Dr. Centeno, thank you for taking some time to share with us today what we can and should be doing if our neck surgery has been cancelled.

Welcome and thank you.

Dr. Chris Centeno

Thanks, Jason. Glad to be here. And again, I think, as you’ve said, you know, what do you do if your neck surgery has been cancelled?

Right, I mean, we probably have hundreds of thousands of people all across the U.S. who have had their neck surgeries – back surgeries, shoulder surgeries, knee surgeries – put on hold. And the healthcare system is changing as we speak. So, what do you do?

Dr. Jason Deitch

That really is the question many of you, if you’re at home, if you had been scheduled perhaps for a neck surgery that’s been canceled. Maybe you have a loved one, somebody you know, a neighbor, a friend, a coworker. We all know someone who’s been having these nagging orthopedic conditions, neck pain, neck problems. They may have gotten X-rays or MRIs.

They may have been going to doctors. And now all of that stops because of the crisis that we’re in right now. And yet you or many of the other people out there may be still living in pain. And you don’t have to.

Dr. Centeno, you put together a series of self-assessment sort of exercises of sorts to be able to understand – how do I know how bad it is? How do I know if I do need help? How do I know how serious it is? And then that leads to, well, who do I talk to if I do have one of these issues? You want to help us understand. You know, I guess a bit about what a home assessment for our neck includes, why it’s important and what that’s all about?

Dr. Chris Centeno

Sure, Jason. So, let’s take one of those which will post here, which is a self-assessment for your neck, involving  sensation. So, what does that mean? That means the nerves in your neck. And one of the most valuable things and secrets that I’ve learned through almost now a lifetime of seeing patients in the clinic is that there is almost nothing more important than what I find on the sensory exam. Meaning that’s the exam that looks at what patients can feel or not feel and where that corresponds to irritated nerves in their neck.

Oftentimes a patient will come in, and the doctors that have been seeing that patient, for example, will have looked at the lower neck because that’s where the bright, shiny object is right now. And it shows that maybe they’ve got some degenerative arthritis and a disc bulge down there. But you do the exam and you find out that what’s involved isn’t that nerve that is shown on the MRI. So, all of a sudden, you’re in a situation now where you need to treat that patient in a different spot.

And again, our form of treatment involves using your body’s own platelets or stem cells to heal that area rather than trying these big surgeries. And again, all too often the surgery will be focused on the bright, shiny object on the MRI and not where there’s a nerve problem. So, the goal of this video is to teach you how to have the power to understand which nerves are involved and which nerves need to be treated because that’s a critical piece of information for you to understand.

Dr. Jason Deitch

Yeah, I think that’s really a essential for people to understand the difference between what’s referred to really as a “regenerative orthopedist” as opposed to perhaps a traditional orthopedist.  Whereas you look at very much, I believe, the functional aspects and what that means in sort of simple language is: if you feel any numbness, tingling, any sort of awkward sensations in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, even upper chest and upper back areas, that very well is likely caused by interference and damage that’s in the cervical spine or what we know as the neck.

So, the more you pay attention, again, if you notice any sensations anywhere in your upper bodies, it is likely coming from your cervical spine. Traditional orthopedist, as you referred to the “shiny object syndrome,” will typically focus on simply the picture and where they believe the pathology is, where they believe the damage is. In many cases, when you do a more comprehensive evaluation starting at home, then you can also include more information to make sure that you’re being much more accurate in what it is that you are focusing on correcting.

It’s one of the many differences between a regenerative orthopedist and a traditional orthopedist. Dr. Centeno, what other things should people know about the distinction as to why they really should be looking towards a more regenerative, holistic, what I refer to as organic approach, that doesn’t really depend on simply using dangerous medications as a solution – but, in fact, seeks to correct the cause of the problem. How else are regenerative orthopedists, I guess different, and I’ll daresay better than just the traditional orthopedic surgery that most people would be exposed to?

Dr. Chris Centeno

Yeah, the traditional orthopedic surgery approach is very much focused on structure. You see something that looks abnormal on the MRI. You do a very cursory exam, and then you go in and you cut something out.

The idea of cutting something out might be to open up an area. However, what we’ve learned through the years and through the research is that that approach doesn’t work all that well. For instance, we all probably know someone who’s had a back surgery, or we know someone who knows someone who has had a back surgery that failed. It didn’t work for them. Well, that’s based on that traditional model. Same thing with neck surgeries.

So in this case, our goal is to throw out the traditional model, but to use all the same high technology to find out exactly where the problem is to do this sensory exam that we’re talking about here, trying to figure out exactly which nerve is responsible for the problem, and then to apply your own platelets or stem cells using precise image guidance in order to try to heal the area.

Or as an example, in the neck, many times we’ll see segments of the neck vertebrae that are unstable and moving around too much because the ligaments are loose. We can go in for injections and tighten down those ligaments, get rid of that extra instability and the nerve is no longer aggravated. And the patient feels much better. Now. Again, traditional surgical approach there would have been to cut all that stuff out and make the spine more unstable so the patient might feel better for six months to a year, but, then, they’re right back in there looking now for a fusion.

And once you used that one level, it’s going to be the next level the next year and the next level the year after that. Again, our goal is to throw all of that stuff out and focus on using the same high technology to accurately diagnose, but also, then, to treat this a different way that helps the body heal itself rather than just cut stuff out. It’s really that simple.

Dr. Jason Deitch

Some people think it’s too simple – “It can’t be that simple!” In many cases it is. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself. You know that because, most of the times, it is healing itself. We all go through different traumas and damage, whether it’s micro traumas from sitting in front of a computer all day, or traumas from being out and about, whether it’s a fall or a sports injury or something else. And in many cases, we heal ourselves.

We have amazing healing potential in our blood and in our body. Our bodies really are the world’s greatest pharmacy. The key is understanding where to have the right healing factors in the right places.

And what regenerative orthopedists focus on is making sure that there are the appropriate healing factors in the places that have the most damage that can heal naturally themselves, using again, your own body’s natural ability to heal itself. It is a far more conservative, but it’s a far more, again, holistic, organic approach than going in there and slicing, burning, cutting, sewing.

All of the things that actually – in the long term, as Dr. Centeno talks about – actually destabilizes the integrity, the structure, the normal structure and strength your body has to last and to live a long, healthy life, when you start breaking the integrity through surgical procedures. Maybe talk a bit about how science has shown that the results of those procedures may not quite live up to the promise or the hope of how people will have outcomes as a result of them.

Dr. Chris Centeno

As an example, Jason, we know that for a cervical fusion, which is one of the more common neck surgeries done – again, that’s where you go in and you may be open an area up and then you bolt it together so it doesn’t move. And the high-level research on that shows that that procedure is no better than either doing nothing, or physical therapy in most instances. Now, why is it done? It’s a highly compensated procedure. And, many times, it’s the knee jerk reaction of what physicians have been taught to expect to do.

However, we see patients all day, every day where we can use their own platelets or stem cells. And, again, through high technology, precise injections restore that normal movement to restore that normal nerve function rather than cutting stuff out.

Because, as you said, when you cut stuff out, you are damaging the area. Surgery is nothing more than damage to accomplish a goal. And you had better hope that the goal is pretty sure, because if it’s not, you just did a bunch of damage without much good.

And that’s never a good thing to be that guy or gal who’s 70 or 80 and still killing it – we all know those people, they’re out there – yet we know people in their 50’s and 60’s who can’t do much. And, many times, I find, that not only some of that genetics and some of that is a good, clean, healthy life, but of that is the people who elected to get big surgeries when they shouldn’t have.

Dr. Jason Deitch

That’s really the key here is, you know, sometimes damage has so far gone, it is so bad, maybe there’s a time and place for certain surgeries under certain circumstances. But the science and the data really does show in many cases they are misused, abused, misunderstood. And a lot of people go in with high hopes and, unfortunately, end up perhaps with their expectations not being met. And I’m being kind about that.

The real approach most people should be thinking about is what is the least invasive thing I need to do to get the maximum and longest lasting outcome or result.

Some people are short term thinkers. They go, this hurts. Make the pain go away. And that’s why we have an opioid crisis. If you want to take the power back for your own health, if you want to take your own power back to understand what you can do to intelligently take care of yourself, then understand the ability you have to make the right choice.

Interestingly enough, ironically enough, in many cases, this choice these days is being made for you. You cannot go to the hospital and have an elective procedure as of this time. And more and more people are appropriately afraid to go to the hospital under these times because it happens to be the most infectious place you can expose yourself to. And a surgery in an infectious environment is probably not the best idea today and/or for the forseeable future. So if you’re looking for the most conservative approach for you to take your power back, in many cases, avoid unnecessary surgery, unnecessary medications, allow the body to heal itself using your own body’s natural healing factors, then finding a Regenexx regenerative orthopedist near you is the way to go.

Now, to take that next step and find out if it’s the right approach, the new Telehealth medicine program is the way to go.

And Dr. Centeno, if you’ll just briefly explain as we close: What does it mean to have a Telehealth assessment – which is new to a lot of people with an orthopedist for something that would seem to be something a doctor would need to touch or move or feel? How do we accomplish such great results over the internet? And how does this new form of healthcare help so many people?

Dr. Chris Centeno

Yeah, Jason, we’ve really embraced this Telemedicine concept, and to do that, we had to rethink how were we going to do an exam.

So, what we have done, as an example for your neck, you can see a taste of below in the video that we’ll post, where we’re just looking at sensation. Now realize that you’re going to go online, and you’ll be at a secure web page. You’ll be able to say you’ve got a neck problem. You’ll be able to watch a video that’ll be longer than the one here that’s focused on getting the information the doctor needs, whether that’s sensation, range of motion, where you hurt, where you don’t hurt, which movements cause which problems – all of that.

You’ll then fill out a form for the doctor. Then the doctor will get on a video link – just like this one, a secure one – and be able to look at all that information. If you’ve got imaging, review that imaging. If you don’t have imaging, order that imaging so that we can get the information we need to do the same kind of diagnosis that we would do in the office. And again, this is a great time to do all that stuff because there’s only so many Netflix shows you can watch where you’ve got to start changing gears.

As I told my wife, this is the new normal. Now we’re all starting to get into our shut down routine and we’re trying to claw back and get some of our life back. Well, if you’ve got neck pain, one of the things you’ve got to do is figure out what to do about it. And this is a great time to do that.

Dr. Jason Deitch

That’s the case. Please understand these are progressive conditions that don’t just go away: for those of you that may have an increase, you know, flare up, and then it feels a little bit better, and then it gets worse, and then it feels a little bit better. These are progressive conditions that do not go away by themselves.

The fact that a symptom may come and go, a sensation may come and go, indicates that there is something wrong. Now’s the time to check it out. And now you can do it from the convenience of your own home. And in fact, schedule a Telehealth appointment with a regenerative orthopedist – a specialist who really focuses on understanding the most appropriate, most conservative, and most effective ways to help your body heal itself.

With that, I want to say thank you, Dr. Chris Centeno, for joining us – making time to help the millions of you that are out there worldwide who have these types of conditions.

Understand what power you have, even if your surgery has been cancelled. There’s something you can do to help yourself. We’re here to help you. Watch the video links down below. Schedule your Telehealth appointment in the near future. And if it’s not for you, share this video with people who you know can benefit from it.

They’re probably binge watching something.  looking for something they can do to help themselves. You might just be the right person to help them understand what they can do to take their power back. Thanks for watching another episode of You’ve Got the Power.” Thanks for watching. Until next time, I’m Dr. Jason Deitch on behalf of Dr. Chris Centeno. We’ll see you next time.

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