South Bend Spine - A Regional Spine Center in Indiana

Most people at some time in their lives will have an attack of back pain or neck pain. That’s the bad news. The good news is that 80% of the time, these back pain or neck pain symptoms will go away on their own with time, some anti-inflammatory medicine and some movement. 

It’s the other 20% of those with back and neck symptoms that can over time become complex problems.  Many of these back pain sufferers are doomed to endless visits to the back doctor. That's because once you have your first back pain attack, you are four times more likely to have a recurrence.

If you have back or neck pain, we are now in a position to help.

Recognizing the best way to care for complex health problems is through a Center of Excellence approach, South Bend Orthopaedics founded South Bend Spine in 2009, in Mishawaka, Indiana. South Bend Spine is a work in progress, combining the efforts of our spine physicians and hospital to develop a regional referral center for back and neck pain over the next five years in the Indiana State. The center includes spine surgeons, spine therapists, x-ray and exercise gym— all under one roof for the convenience of those with back and neck pain. By having it all in one place, the back pain patient no longer has to drive to multiple locations for top quality spine care.

The spine center currently includes the expertise of:

A nonsurgical approach to back and neck pain

What makes our spine center unique from other regional centers in Indiana, is its emphasis on a non-surgical approach to back and neck problems. South Bend Spine includes board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians Dr. Jon Markley and Paul A. Smucker, M.D.. These spine providers specialize in the non-surgical treatment of back and neck pain. These doctors are often able to help many patients resolve their back or neck pain symptoms without the need for spine surgery.

However, sometimes, spine surgery may be unavoidable. This may occur because symptoms of radiating pain have not responded to non-surgical treatment options like injection therapy or customized spine physical therapy. In other cases, some symptoms like weakness or numbness in a leg or hand, or loss of control of bowel or bladder, represent emergency symptoms where back or neck surgery must be done quickly to prevent permanent paralysis of the nerves that relate to these muscles or extremities.

When spine surgery is necessary

If your back or neck problem requires surgery, South Bend Spine has fellowship-trained spine surgeons who already are referred the most complex surgical cases across Indiana. These cases include herniated discs, spinal fractures, spinal deformity, spinal tumor and scoliosis.

These spine surgeons use some of the most advanced instrumentation and spine surgery techniques. Because of the minimally invasive techniques used by South Bend Spine surgeons, including Dr. Henry W. DeLeeuw, many patients are able to have their spine surgery in the morning and then return home the same day to recover in the comfort of their own home.

Pain relief through a focus on function

Pain is a signal from the body to the brain that something is wrong. Either the back is too weak, too inflexible, something lifted was too heavy or the wrong body mechanics were used. And, unfortunately, those doctors who focus exclusively on pain symptoms often recommend a course of treatment that is the exact opposite of what the individual needs to recover from the back problem.

Years ago, for example, doctors treated back pain with bed rest and heavy drugs to mask the discomfort. It was found, however, that this type of treatment was actually damaging to the back, because it caused muscles in the back to get weaker, in turn, causing more strain and pain. Patients became more dependent on drugs and grew more inactive and disabled.

In fact, pain relief actually can come through movement. Low-impact sports like walking and swimming are the best way to make the back feel better and stronger.

South Bend Spine uses written clinical protocols to improve care and reduce treatment variation — the essence of true quality management. This enables us to make sure the right thing is done at the right time, every time. This also makes sure that every nonsurgical option has been explored — such as therapy and injections — before spine surgery is considered.

While others talk about quality, we measure outcomes with patient severity data at intake and functional status post treatment. Lastly, we audit patient satisfaction so we can continually improve, because that's what quality is all about.