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Back pain? Spine practitioner aims to get patients best possible treatment

illustration of human spine


Denise Karsten is someone you might not expect to find in the office of a neurosurgical practice, but she‘s an important part of the Upstate Brain and Spine Center team. Karsten, a chiropractor and registered nurse, is a primary spine practitioner who this year began working alongside the neurosurgeons.

Her role is like that of a primary care provider, whose focus is on the spine. Most of her patients suffer from back and neck pain.

Karsten cites studies showing that seeing a primary spine practitioner can decrease a patient‘s chances of an episode of back pain becoming a chronic, disabling condition.

“It‘s all about how fast we act and delivering appropriate care at the first visit with the most appropriate provider,” she explains. The first visit with Karsten usually takes more than an hour. She asks dozens of questions about the pain, such as when it began, what it feels like, its location and what provokes it. She performs a neurological and orthopedic examination and reviews any imaging tests with the patient. This can help identify the cause of the back or neck pain.

It‘s Karsten‘s job to either give the patient tools to help alleviate or manage their pain, or to help them find an intervention that will help. This might include acupuncture, massage therapy, weight loss, physical therapy, chiropractic care, psychological support or surgery.

To make an appointment, call the center at 315-464-6386.

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health-winter-2017cvr This article appears in the winter 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazine. Hear a radio interview/podcast about spine care with Karsten from Upstate's "HealthLink on Air."