Dr. Thomas Rizzo: Healthy Backs As We Age

On Saturday, March 3rd our guest was Dr. Thomas Rizzo from Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, discussing keeping your back healthy as you age.   Dr. Rizzo specializes in both Sports Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Medical Edge Weekend 3-3-12


  1. Rebecca Seay
    Posted March 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    I am in the middle of this decision myself. I have had back problems since my early 20’s, I am 35 now. Approximately 8 months ago I reptured two disks. L4-S1.
    I have had PT, pain meds, three steroid epidural shots, chiropractor, weight loss, walking, etc. I still have not been able to get the pain out if my right ankle.
    My surgeon provided a detailed video of spinal fusion to me. After the video I was scared to see what this really involves and that I will essencially be left with a long tubular bone structure in my back.
    Not one of my doctors has mentioned a microdissectomy. Can you give details on this type of surgery as well?

    Thank You.

    • leonel a urdaneta
      Posted March 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      I have the same; would you go thru the surgery and let me know if it works?

      (Humor might help)…temporarily)

      Leonel A. Urdaneta, MD

    • Tracy
      Posted March 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Dr. Rizzo says “You have tried all of the things I would recommend before surgery. Your physicians may wish to consider an EMG/NCV (Electromyogram and Nerve Conduction Velocity) to confirm that the ankle pain is coming from a damaged nerve.

      Fusions are typically done IF there is evidence of instability (abnormal movement of the bones in the spine) or the surgeon has to take out enough bone to correct the problem that you could develop instability. (In rare instances, fusion may be done for pain, but the success rate for surgery to treat back pain alone is not great.)

      A microdiscectomy typically refers to removing the damaged part of the disc through a small incision. Some surgeons are more comfortable with one surgical approach over another. The surgeon will also choose the procedure that he/she feels is best for your situation.”

  2. John Cornel Kovach
    Posted March 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I too have this problem and have been told that a fusion surgery was the only way. Through extensive weight loss, radical diet change and exercise with a medication schedule that is rational most of the pain ia controlled. Never-the-less, neuropathy due to disc herniation and stenosis is causing muscle loss which is not going to get any better. The microsurgery that opens up the inside diameter of the canals that the spinal chord and lateral openings in in the vertebrae is effective, but I am also searching for the surgeon that will do the procedure. Dr. Richard Zipnik formerly at the Arizona Institute of Bone and Joint Disorders of Phoenix performed these surgeries successfully in the past.He left the area to work with the Olympic athletes and I am not able to find another surgeon. Keep me informed if you can find a surgeon. JCK

  3. Anne
    Posted March 3, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    What are your thoughts on pain relief through alternative medicines (acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.)?

    • Tracy
      Posted March 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Dr. Rizzo says, ” Acupuncture and chiropractic can be effective for pain relief. I have seen lasting benefit with acupuncture. I think that chiropractic should be followed by exercises.”

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