Dr. DePalma on CBS Good Morning
CBS 6: Good morning. Welcome back. Do you remember the story we told you about last week of this Richmond spine specialist who is making breakthroughs in spinal surgery? Dr. Michael DePalma was recently recognized on the national show CBS Sunday Morning right here on CBS 6 and he’s here with us today in the studio to talk to us about this revolutionary treatment. Great to see you doctor. Thanks for coming in so early Dr. DePalma. Tell me, 8 out of 10 Americans at some point will be suffering from back pain. Why is it so common?
Dr. DePalma: That’s correct. Eight out of 10 people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lifetime. Many of those folks are developing recurrent or chronic ongoing back pain. And the most common reason for that is injury of a disc in our low back. Now the disc itself can become injured for a variety of reasons: while lifting, bending, or twisting it into an injury. And then the injury doesn’t heal like it would for, say, a cut on the arm or something. So that not healing injury within the disc becomes chronically painful. Blood vessels grow into it, nerve endings follow the blood vessels, and then we have a setup for both degeneration and chronic back pain.
CBS 6: Can this be hereditary or is it really preventable, where you said lifting boxes the wrong way or couches the wrong way.
Dr. DePalma: That’s a good question. There are three broad areas that play, three broad factors that play, a role in degenerative changes in the spine; genetics, environmental and biomechanical with all the lifting for example. Genetics does play a role. We’re not sure how to read what hand we’re dealt with individuals but that does play in the development of degenerative changes in the spine.
CBS 6: Tell us about these four studies you were a part of in the paper that was just released yesterday that’s really gaining some national attention.
Dr. DePalma: The paper was a review paper manuscript published last month by North American Spine Society reviewing the experimental technologies that are labeled as biologic intradiscal treatments. Biologic meaning the objective is to initiate repair of the disc, of that non-healing wound in the disc. And the different technologies take the shape of injecting growth factors, which are proteins, in the disc, which stimulate repair. Injecting cells, be it stem cells or actual disc cells, into the disc to replenish those cells. And then another technology is tissue scaffolding, which is injected in the disc to try to seal the tear and initiate healing of the wound by setting up a scaffold. So those cells can proliferate in three different dimensions.
CBS 6: Doctor, if somebody is suffering from back pain what’s your advice for them?
Dr. DePalma: Depends on where they are in the spectrum. If the back pain is incapacitating we might need to intervene pretty quickly with something to reduce their back pain and let them progress further in physical therapy and go about their business. If they’re able to function and it’s more episodic back pain and activity dependent, then we’ve got to address the activities that are causing the symptoms, adjust their biomechanics, maybe look at their ergonomic variables, correcting things in the workplace setting that might be bothering them. So it kind of depends on how incapacitation the symptoms are at that moment.
CBS 6: Richmond Spin Specialist Dr. Michael DePalma thank you so much for the information. We appreciate it.