Published On : Wed, Sep 6th, 2017

Spine surgery not a dreaded option in Nagpur anymore says Dr. Shivraj Suryawanshi, Alexis Hospital

Dr. Shivraj Suryawanshi, Alexis Hospital
Nagpur: Dr. Suryavanshi is not just in Orthopedics, he is a Spine expert, so one can call him the ‘back bone’ of his hospital! Or at least one of the ‘super specialists’ that make Alexis Hospital stand out in the crowd.

In the free wheeling discussion we had on the subject of ‘bone health’, preserving your back bone, and general health issues too, the following points evolved: and not necessarily in that order!

First of all, about the doctor himself. He is a ‘product’ of Nagpur, belonging to the 1996 GMC batch. He did his M.S. in Orthopedics from Bombay Hospital followed by a ‘Fellowship’ in Spine Surgery. He then came back to work in Nagpur at IGMC, later joined the teaching staff at his alma mater GMC before shifting to Alexis.

His expertise lies in the field of microscopic assisted spinal surgeries which make the whole process much less morbid, less painful, more refined where recovery time for patient gets vastly reduced too.

“There are cases where we have been able to send the patient home the same day of the surgery too” Dr. Suryawanshi recalls. Earlier, a ‘back operation’ meant at least a week’s stay in a hospital and continued ‘bed rest’ at home.

“Not only is the recovery faster but we need to prescribe lesser medicines, patient does not require blood transfusions, or IV fluids. The simplification of the process should result in reducing phobia related to any ‘back surgery.” He says.

What are the symptoms that a patient may be suffering from spine related problems?

Obviously patients with chronic back pain; neck pain or radiating pain… could be in hands or lower limbs too. (Like Sciatica.) Scoliosis, bending of spine etc.

There is no time limit – patients with old problems can also be helped

In some cases, micro surgery has helped patients whose injuries were not recent and who had reconciled themselves to living out the rest of their lives in a state of ‘paralysis’.

The Doctor recalls a patient, a manual worker who came to him a year after living with a ‘Food drop’ problem that occurred after an accident. (He could not operate his feet normally when walking and had to use his knees more, lifting and dropping his feet by bending knees almost 90* from the ground.)

A surgery that released pressure on a nerve that was getting compressed helped me walk normally again!

But while outlining benefits of (micro) surgeries or surgeries of the spine the surgeon emphasizes that surgeries are NOT the solution for every problem.

“Of the 100 patients that come to us, less 1 – 2 % need surgery. The rest get better with medication, physiotherapy… even healthier habits.” Dr. Shivraj dispels the notion that surgeons will ‘cut’ whenever possible!!

The importance of Calcium and Vit D

Indians do not get adequate Vitamin D anymore with drastic changes in life style. Even diets have changed.

“It is a wrong notion people have that if they are ‘exposed’ to sunlight even for some brief periods, even regularly so, will get enough Vit D produced in their body” Shivraj says.

“For that to happen one will have to be under the sun for 6 – 7 hours at least, with a wet body. Our farmers or other outdoor labour who work in the sun, stripped down to minimal clothing, dripping with sweat, are the only ones who have enough Vitamin D produced. The rest need to take supplements!”

This will prevent permanent wear and tear of your bones, including your back bone.

What is spondylosis? Can it be ‘cured’ by surgery?

Spondylosis word can be broken in to two: Spondylos – spine, and osis – destruction. So the condition of spondilosys is age related wear and tear of your back bone and surgery cannot cure it.

But it can be treated, and further damage minimized.

Wear and tear of the spine added to bad posture compounds the problem and results in pain.

What causes frozen shoulder?

Almost all of us have known people who have suffered from the devastating ‘frozen shoulder’ – we may have ourselves suffered, so we HAD to bring up this subject with the Doctor.

He surprised us by candidly stating “we are yet to come to an understanding of why really frozen shoulder occurs. A lot of research has gone into it but no conclusion reached. The only plus point is that it is a self starting and self limiting condition. The pain begins, it reaches a peak and then it begins decreasing on its own. Naturally the ‘patient’ is taking pain killers, muscle relaxants etc. Some go in for injections as well – but ultimately it is Nature that heals. Or call it God.

We only know one fact, that diabetic people are more prone to suffering from this.

How much Research goes on in Medical fields in India?

“We are progressively getting there. At least system of recording and computing patient info. has begun.

But my concern is that India still lacks largely in medical facilities for its citizens. Imagine even in a big city like Nagpur, the second capital of a progressive and rich state of Maharashtra, there is ONLY ONE MRI machine in the Govt. infrastructure. The one at GMC. Imagine the load of patients it must be seeing? And where else will poor patients go if not to GMC? The sad fact is that getting an MRI done is getting costlier and costlier because of more specialized and sophisticated machines. Even we, in the private sector, prescribe it sparingly.”

Finally, we ask the Doctor to advise things one should do for ‘bone and spine health’.

This is his advise:

Pay attention to Ergonomics. A chair that supports your spine well; monitors at eye level; hands and fingers at elbow level… paying attention to such small details goes a long way from keeping you problem free.

Do some physical activity regularly. Go for walks. (But NOT on tread mills.) Do stretching exercise. If your job requires you to sit at the computer for long hours, get up and walk around every half an hour.

Pay attention to your diet. Eat food rich in Calcium, Vit. D, iron and other nutrients. A study done by a Mumbai hospital found that not only lay people, even Doctors themselves are severely deficient in Vitamin D.

And finally, don’t worry… be happy! What they say is true, Laughter is the best medicine!!!

—Sunita Mudaliar, Executive Editor, in conversation with Dr. Shivraj Suryavanshi, Alexis Hospital