Southwest Spine and Sports Featured in the Phoenix 2015 Medical Directory

Excerpt from “Super Clinics” in Phoenix 2015 Medical Directory Vol. 49, No. 14

She could ride, and she could run. At 57, Kim rode horses competitively, and she jogged to stay in shape. Then one day while exercising, she felt a pop in her left hip, and suddenly it wasn’t even easy to walk. Indeed, the pain in her left thigh and buttock was so severe that it hurt to sit.

She pursued the usual courses of treatment – physical therapy, injections to the lower back, chiropractic manipulation. Improvement was minimal. She began to wonder if her gluteal injury might not bring her life as a woman of action to an end. Then, in 201a, Kim “presented” – to use prevailing industry jargon-speak – at Southwest Spine and Sport, where her treatment included doses of PRP.

Southwest Spine and Sports founder Dr. Michael Wolff administers Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) to a patient

Southwest Spine and Sports founder Dr. Michael Wolff administers Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) to a patient

Never heard of it? PRP stands for Platelet-Rich Plasma, a regenerative treatment for pain in the joints and the soft tissues. “It’s using your own blood to treat your injury,” says Dr. Michael Wolff, who founded Southwest Spine and Sports in 1999. “It might lead to faster or fuller healing. And it’s all natural, not like steroids.”

It works like this: “We draw your blood, and that machine spins your blood,” explains Jen Stewart, a medical assistant at the Tempe location of Southwest Spine and Sports, pointing to a toaster-size white gizmo that looks like some high-end kitchen appliance. The result, as the name “Platelet-Rich Plasma” suggests, is a product with a high concentration of the platelets that contain growth factors and proteins that help rebuild and enhance recovery.

When it’s re-injected, Stewart says, “we flood that part of your body with platelets… It’s not FDA-approved, so it’s technically experimental, but they’ve been doing a lot of them.” Kim, who asked that her last name not be used in this article, became a believer. Since undergoing PRP treatment, she and her horse have completed a 75-mile endurance ride, and multiple 50-mile rides, and she’s resumed her other exercises. In her online testimonial, she inevitably notes that PRP got her back in the saddle.

PRP is just one of the diverse and sophisticated treatments offered at Southwest Spine and Sports, any of which might be worth an article. But what may be even more remarkable is that they’re all available under one roof. “You really shouldn’t have to go see eight different people because you have lower back pain,” spokesperson Helen Basey says.

Southwest Spine and Sports is not unique in this regard. It may, at that, be an example of a rising trend – specialty practices that aren’t content to be so specialized anymore, and are expanding their models to include subspecialties, holistic care, even research and development. This is the essence of the integrative health care revolution, and chances are, it’s already at your doorstep.

Southwest Spine and Sports physician Dr. Lata Kumaraswamy

Southwest Spine and Sports physician Dr. Lata Kumaraswamy


Botox on the Menu

PRP is a specialty of the house at Southwest Spine and Sports – an ongoing study project of the SWSS Foundation for Innovation, Research and Education (FIRE). But it’s certainly not the only item on the menu.

Had our equestrian Kim suffered from numbness, tingling or carpal tunnel syndrome, she could have received electromyography. If chronic lower back or sacroiliac joint pain was the problem, she could have tried radiofrequency ablation. The Southwest Spine and Sports bag of tricks includes such exotic-sounding procedures as “Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET)” and “Percutaneous Disc Decompression” and even the rather saucy-sounding “Provocative Discography.” In the procedure center, she could have gotten her X-rays. A psychologist on staff specializes in sleep disorders. Southwest Spine and Sport could even have offered Kim the services of a massage therapist or an acupuncturist.

And if she suffered from chronic migraine, she could have gotten Botox.

Yes, you read that right. Botox, long used to relieve the heartache caused by ungallant mirrors, is actually FDA-approved for chronic migraines as a treatment option.

Dr. Lata Kumaraswamy of Southwest Spine and Sports recalls another patient in her 50s who suffered from chronic migraines, defined as 15 or more headaches a month lasting four hours or longer. She had seen a neurologist and tried pain medication, with minimal benefit. Then at Southwest Spine and Sports, she was deemed a good candidate for a Botox injection into her head or neck. Although the treatment is not the immediate treatment option in some medical circles, Southwest Spine and Sports patients have often noticed their headaches getting better within two weeks.

This was the case with the patient in question.” We did one treatment, and she had a reduction in her headaches,” Kumaraswamy recalls. “We did a second treatment, and she had a further reduction. Now she’s more active; she can play with her grandkid.” Such positive outcomes, spurred by an innovative healthcare concept that reaches outside the strict parameters of a given medical field, are not exclusive to Southwest Spine and Sports.